No, I do not want you to restart my machine NOW

As our lives become more and more intertwined with bits of technology, the way that such technological tidbits are managed and upgraded starts to matter more and more. It becomes a part of the user experience just as much as the day to day UI.

In my professional role with my SaaS products, we no longer tolerate messages like this:

Instead, we design and deploy systems that can be managed and updated while still operating. It is actually pretty cool how it is possible to “change the engines while in flight”.

But these tricks work when deployed to fleets of systems in the cloud. Not for individual systems. However, we must stop tolerating bad behavior at the individual system level too. I can be better.

Just this week, I got to experience the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of updating a personal system. First the wrong way.

This is how Microsoft is doing it on Windows 10. This IS the improved version when you compare to Win7 or older.  It did try to notify me beforehand. And it is trying to make it easy to stay current. However, they still don’t ‘get it’ on how to make the process work for regular people.

  1. There is no opportunity to schedule the restart. There never was. The earlier messages before the reported unsuccessful attempts simply said it would happen outside of normal hours. Guess what, outside of normal working hours, my laptop is not plugged in so it won’t do the reboot – ever.
  2. 5:32pm is NOT an ‘off hour’ to do this. I could very easily be in the middle of something then. Now, I suspect that at 5:32 it will offer to let me cancel the restart – IF I’m looking at the screen at that moment. But that’s not good enough. How about asking me when would be good (see #1 , above)
  3. I can reboot NOW. But I should save my work first. Uh… Wait a minute, what were you going to do in the middle of the night or at 5:32pm today? And this is a modal pop up. So I can’t push ‘restart now’ AND go save my work in any open programs. Duh!

Let’s compare to an alert I saw earlier this week. This one on a car (well, some joke that it is a computer on four wheels). Look what they got right:

  1. This dialog comes up after the user clicks on an indicator that there is something to read. It does not pop up modally and interrupt the use of the device. I suspect that at some point it will be more invasive if ignored, but still passive at first
  2. The first option is to schedule the installation and restart. The default behavior recognizes that this device belongs to the user and respects the user’s choices. Yes, the fact that it is a car with life-safety implications probably pushes the engineering team that way but that doesn’t excuse the lack on other devices.
  3. It provides a simple, straightforward way to pick a non-default time to do the update
  4. It provides an option to just do it now and get it over with
  5. What is a little bit of a miss is that there is no explicit way to say ‘go away I can’t deal with this now’  But it is there implicitly in that closing the dialog has that effect.

How about we cross pollinate our tech worlds and apply this thinking to PC software as well


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