Was Microsoft right to make Windows 8.1 Update mandatory?

Was Microsoft right to make Windows 8.1 Update mandatory?

There has been much talk about Windows 8.1 Update over the past weeks and months, but now the waiting is over -- the update is here. What has taken some people by surprise is the fact that Microsoft has decided to make the update mandatory -- but is this a good thing? While the changes made in Update have been broadly welcomed, they are -- as ever -- not to everyone’s taste. So should Microsoft be forcing users to install it?

In short, yes. And for a number of reasons; but we’ll come to that in a moment. Microsoft requiring Update to be installed is not something a lot of people were expecting. In a post on the TechNet blog, Michael Hildebrand wrote: “Failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)”, although this has since been crossed through.

But it is Microsoft’s description of Windows 8.1 Update on the Windows blog that gives things away: “Windows 8.1 Update is a cumulative update to Windows 8.1, containing all the updates we have released for Windows 8.1, so if you install this update you do not need any earlier updates. It also becomes the new servicing baseline for Windows 8.1, so next month’s security updates (on May 13th, the next “patch Tuesday”) will be dependent on Windows 8.1 Update.”

So while the Update might not be completely mandatory in the strictest sense of the word, any Windows 8.1 user who wants to continue to receive further updates and security patches will need to get it installed. While some may feel that this is like being held to ransom, there is a great deal of sense in Microsoft’s thinking.

From a usability point of view, as well as simplifying support, it makes sense that every Windows 8.1 user has the same experience. Windows may not be completely different after installing Update, but it is different enough to cause confusion for anyone who finds that they are working with some machines that have it installed and others that do not. It is also interesting to note that Update is classed as a security update -- it just happens to contain numerous other, non-security changes as well.

Making Update mandatory also helps to show users that Microsoft has complete faith in this version of Windows 8.1 -- the company has no doubt that this is the edition it wants you to be running.

How do you feel? Do you mind being “forced” into installing Update.