Language · Technology

“Let’s cross this one off your list”

Updating Windows 10 is not on any of my lists.

If you’re a Windows 10 user may I ask how it’s working for you? Are you happy? I mentioned, in this piece from earlier this month, some issues of my own with a Windows 10 update. I had restarted my laptop, as recommended by both Windows and Firefox, which had been nagging me to do so, and after 12 hours the device was still unusable. The screen was showing the same five white dots, rotating in a clockwise direction on a black screen, suggesting that something was happening. I didn’t tell you what happened next. The screen was still displaying the same lack of progress 24 hours later. I gave up, rebooted the machine and after some vaguely encouraging messages about trying to finish its update, had another 24 hours of the same five white dots, rotating in a clockwise direction on a black screen. I powered it down and left it for a few days.

Last Monday morning (15 January), expecting to run a system restore from a USB stick to get back to an earlier version of Windows, I switched the laptop on again to be informed that its update had failed, and it was reverting to an earlier version of the operating system. I don’t know how long it took but by the evening it had finished and I was able to use Windows 10 again. The previous Saturday’s edition of The Guardian (the last in its Berliner format) contained suggestions about how to go through some form of “digital detox”, recommendations to wean yourself off screen-based technology. It didn’t suggest running a Windows 10 update, but that had certainly worked for me. Usually, with either the Windows laptop or my Mac Book Pro working normally, I would read most of the weekend’s papers onscreen. I read both Saturday’s Guardian and Sunday’s Observer in print, for the first time in ages, not knowing when I would have a fully functional laptop available to read them online. When the Windows 10 laptop was up and running again, on Monday evening, I browsed web pages as if I’d been offline for weeks. Reading them on my phone, or on my beloved Windows 7 netbook, is not the same.

You’d think that might be it for a while, that Windows 10 might (figuratively speaking) keep a low profile and just go about its business without bothering me, but for the last few days it has been pestering me yet again to allow it to have another go. Here’s what it says: “The newest Windows feature update is ready to install. We need you to kick it off. With new features and apps, this one could take a little longer than other updates. Ready? Restart now. Not ready? Pick a time that works for you.”.

I choose the option “Pick a time that works for you”, hoping to find the word “Never”. Instead, there’s the “Restart options / Schedule a time” dialog box. It’s set to “On”. I turn it off and get back to whatever I was doing before.

Within an hour Windows 10 is back again, with, “The newest Windows feature update is ready to install. We need you to kick it off…” They need me to kick it off. Well, it’s nice to be needed sometimes. But here’s what really bugs me, and gets me shouting obscenities at the device. The dialog box has the following heading: “Let’s cross this one off your list”. I read it and shout, “It’s not on my list. I have lots of lists and this one isn’t on any of them.” (Curse words have been deleted from those last two sentences.) I have never had a “To Do List” item that reads: “Let Windows 10 have a go at upgrading your laptop, fail, render your device unusable for at least 48 hours, and then return it to its previous state. Eventually.” I never will.

There is much that irritates me about the language used in dialog boxes and notifications in Windows 10 and Office 2016. There are phrases like “Oops! Something went wrong” and “Working on it!” and “All done. We made x replacements” after running a Find and Replace in Word. I have not shared my irritation with you. Really, I just want to get on with things. But this one (“Let’s cross this one off your list”) takes the biscuit. Let’s not. It’s not on any of my lists.



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