How to defer Windows 10 Feature Updates/Upgrades

With the introduction of Windows 10 Microsoft changed the way major updates are delivered. Security updates continue to be delivered on regular basis on Tuesday every two weeks (on what has became known as Patch Tuesday), but new major versions of the operating system — i.e. upgrades — are no longer provided as a completely new version every three years on average (Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1). Windows 10 updates are more subtle and essentially follow a Software as a Service (SaaS) updating scheme. Major (and minor) feature updates and are delivered in the background and are more transparent to users.
As of October 2018, Windows 10 receives a major update twice a year, once in the Spring (April) and a second time in the Autumn (October) and unlike previous versions updates are mandatory.

There are benefits to this update scheme, namely the mandatory installation of security updates in an era when even individual home users are at great risk to security threats. Unfortunately however, things don’t always go as smooth as they should. By default Windows 10 treats security updates and feature upgrades the same way and they both get installed as soon as they are released (give or take a couple of days). While this is generally a good approach from a security standpoint, the inclusion major upgrades creates a concern as they have the potential of introducing instability in the early days and they often.
This is an even more of a concern in a production environment as any type of downtime or disruption of functionality could become a serious problem and not just an inconvenience. Especially for micro and small businesses without a dedicated IT team.
Therefore, in a production environment I recommend running one version behind the cutting edge. For example: Windows 10 version 1809 was released on October 2018 (the time if this writing), which means that business users could now safely update to the the previous version–Windows 10 version 1803 from April 2018. When the next version of Windows will be realeased in April 2019, users could consider upgrading to version 1809 (October 2018).
This approach minimizes stability issues, while still keeping users current with newer features and hardware support.

To make things more complicated, outside of large organizations (i.e. Enterprise) Windows comes in two versions: Home and Pro. While the Pro version does offer some control over how updates are delivered, the Home version does not.

In this post I’ll list all the methods Windows Home (sort of) and Windows Pro users could use to keep the system up-to-date with security patches but defer the automatic installation of newer versions of the operating system.

Windows 10 Pro

Through the Settings app

Windows 10 Pro offers controls over how updates will be delivered.
To access the relevant settings, click Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update (from the left pane) > Advanced Options.
There are three relevant settings here:
The branch readiness level
Determines which of the two release branches the system follows. The options are Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) and Semi-Annual Channel. Set this to Semi-Annual Channel, which basically means the system will switch to the Stable/Business release branch.

A feature update includes new capabilities and improvements. It can be deferred for this many days
This setting allows to delays non-security updates for up to 365 days. I have it set to 200 days because this is roughly the time interval between two consecutive major updates, which is consistent with my recommendation to always run one version behind the most current one.
In fact, I typically schedule a dedicated down time to install major updates manually. I take a current disk image of my system drive and then proceed with the updates. This gives me time to respond better to any issue and ensures I won’t be surprised by an update at the most inconvenient timing, but if I don’t get around to it having automatic updates set up this way is the next best thing.

A quality update includes security improvements. It can be deferred for this many days
As the title suggests, this gives control over how security updates are installed. Deferring them for two long beats their purpose, and while they pose lesser stability risk, I believe it is still a good idea not to install them immediately after they are released. Deferring them for 2-7 days seems like a balanced approach to me.

Windows 10 Pro Update settings in the Settings app
Windows 10 Pro Update settings in the Settings app

Change activity hours

To minimize the risk of having a major update sneak up on one in the middle of the work day, it’s recommend to set the activity hours for the computer. Windows will not automatically restart the computer during those hours.
Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update (from the left pane) > Change activity hours and set your business hours.

Through the Group Policy Editor

While the above method is more straightforward, those settings could also be set through the Group Policy Editor.
Click Start, type ‘edit group policy’ and press the Enter key to launch the first search result. Alternatively, press Windows key + R, type ‘gpedit.msc’ into the Run box and press the Enter key.
In the Group Policy Editor, go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business, where you’ll find the same settings as above.

Windows 10 Pro update setting in the GPO Editor
Windows 10 Pro update setting in the GPO Editor

The Group Policy Editor also offers an option that doesn’t exist in the Settings menu: the ability to get notified before any update is being downloaded and installed.
In the Group Policy Editor, go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update and double-click on Configure automatic updates in the right pane.
Click on ‘Enable‘ and then select option ‘2 – Auto download and notify for install‘ from the Configure automatic updating drop-down list. With this setting the user is notified when new updates are available and will have to go to Windows Update to select which one to install. This might sound like a good idea because it provides as close to a full control over the updates, which could result in updates not being installed at all. I therefore don’t find this the best approach for separating security from feature updates.
Window 10 Pro update notify for download and install

Using the Registry Editor

Please note: Editing the Registry is a little risky and is not recommended by me for anyone who is not familiar and comfortable with Registry editing. The above two methods are safer and easier, I think. For this reason I won’t give the instructions here but they could be found on this TenForums tutorial on deferring Windows updates.

Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Home users have only one true viable option and this is to turn off updates completely: Start > type Services > scroll down and double-click on Windows Update > Click on Stop and then change the Startup type to Disabled.

Disabling the Windows Update service through services.msc
Disabling the Windows Update service through services.msc

While this method not recommend because it also disables security updates, given no other choice it might be the lesser of two evils when used strategically. One must be mindful of when a new major update is about to be released and consider disabling the updating service for a month or so starting that date/manually start the service once a month to check and install updates.
That said, the better option for production machines running Windows Home is to upgrade to Windows Pro.

A Script to Reset SDL Trados Studio

Here’s a quick script for resetting SDL Studio 2017. It could be helpful for troubleshooting SDL Studio.

A couple of notes:

  • To use the script with newer versions of Studio, please rename the “14.0.0.0” folder in the path to match the version number of the current Stuio version you are trying to reset, e.g. “15.0.0.0”, “16.0.0.0”…. “xx.0.0.0”.
  • Alternatively, removing the version specific folder from the path altogether, will effectively result in the reset of all installed versions of Studio.

To Do
Originally I’ve created the script for personal use, as a quick and easy way to reset Studio for troubleshooting purposes, and it is therefore therefore not as robust as it could or I like it to be. Here are some of of the functionality I always wanted to add but never go round to it because it wasn’t a priority:

  • An Options List so the user can choose his or her version of Studio out of the last 2 or 3 versions of Studio;
  • A more reliable error checking and reporting function to alert the user if the reset had failed;
  • Potentially a preliminary check to see if Studio is running in the background and closing Studio in before proceeding with the reset if it is already running;
  • A way to revert back to the last configuration before the reset if the Reset didn’t solve the problem.

Should I ever get around to updating the script with any of the above functionality, I’ll update this post. Please feel free to improve the script yourself, and I’d appreciate if you could share the improved version with me so I could post it here.

Download the .bat script to reset SDL Trados Studio file.
Some programs or security features might prevent the script from being downloaded. In this case, or you want to edit its content yourself, please copy and paste the following code snippet into a text editor and save it as a .bat file.

@echo off
@echo This script will Reset SDL Studio. It is strongly recommended to manually save all open work in SDL Studio and close the program before you proceed.
pause
@Echo Resetting SDL Studio 2017...
ren "%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\SDL\SDL Trados Studio\14.0.0.0" "14.0.0.0_bak"
ren "%userprofile%\AppData\Local\SDL\SDL Trados Studio\14.0.0.0" "14.0.0.0_bak"
@echo Studio has been reset. This window will now close.
pause

How to repair a corrupt SDL Studio Update module

After recently upgrading Windows 10 to the Creators Update (May 2017), I ran into an error message that was new to me. When starting Studio 2017 the following two ‘StudioUpdateClient‘ messages popped up:

‘Failed to get archive directory listing’
SDL Studio 2017 'StudioUpdateClient' Failed to get archive directory listing message
and
‘Failed to load update data file’
SDL Studio 2017 'StudioUpdateClient' Failed to load update data message
The following video shows those messages at start-up

The same happened when trying to manually check for updates (Help > Check for updates [in the Action ribbon group]) and when launching Multiterm.
There was clearly something wrong with Studio’s update module.

I tried repairing Studio’s installation (SDL KB article number: 000001414), as well as resetting Studio (SDL KB article number: 000001417), but to no avail. I then decided to contact SDL and with their help we have indeed isolated the problem to a corrupt Update module.

There is plenty that can potentially go wrong–albeit seldom does–when upgrading the operating system and/or a program, and initially I suspected Windows upgrade might have broken the Update module. However, other users who have also upgraded Windows didn’t experience this or any other issue, and therefore I concluded this was unrelated. Something, somewhere, went wrong but there is nothing much to learn from it.

That said, the problem of not being able to update Studio still remained and I wanted to get it fixed.

How to repair Studio’s Update module and resolve the ‘StudioUpdateClient’ error messages

It is very easy to repair the Update module:

  1. Close Studio and/or Multiterm;
  2. Navigate to ‘C:\ProgramData\SDL\SDL Trados Studio\Studio5\’ and delete or rename the ‘Updates’ folder to ‘Updates_old’ SDL Studio Autoupdate folder path at C:\ProgramData\SDL\SDL Trados Studio\Studio5\Updates
    Please note that the above path is for Studio 2017 and the ‘Studio5‘ part of the path should be replaced for earlier/future versions of Studio according to the relevant Studio version number, e.g. ‘Studio4‘, ‘Studio6‘… and so on)
  3. Repair Studio’s installation by following the instructions in SDL KB article number 000001414 [link].
  4. The ‘The Update application has been updated and must restart in order to continue’ loop

    A corrupt update module could also result in the following behavior: When starting Studio or MultiTerm–or when manually checking for updates–the ‘The Update application has been updated and must restart in order to continue’ message appears, but when confirming it nothing seems to happen and you don’t get either the update is available notification or the ‘This application is up-to-date" message, and the same message pops up again the next time Studio or MultiTerm are launched

    That’s it. A simple fix for a rather annoying problem.

memoQ 2014 Release 2: Rediscover memoQ

The release of a new major version of a productivity software is always a mixed experience. On the one hand new and sometimes very important and even exciting improvements and features are introduced, but on the other hand so are new bugs and quirks at the early stages, and major new features are often in need of further refinement before becoming reliable.
Things get even more interesting when changes to the user experience are introduced, and the questions about their necessity, efficiency and reception are highly dependent on the implementation and the workflow they attempt to support.

memoQ  2014 R2
memoQ 2014 Release 2

memoQ 2014 Release 2 (abbreviated as memoQ 2014 R2) — the new major version of the Translation Environment Tool — continues memoQ evolution in terms of functionality and optimization, but also introduced an extensive overhaul to the user interface. So extensive in fact it made Kevin Lossner, an expert on all things memoQ and a trainer, to argue that memoQ 2014 R2 should have been called memoQ 2015 to signify the departure from the traditional interface.

A quick overview of memoQ 2014 R2

memoQ 2014 R2 introduces several new features and improvements, mainly:

For more information, I strongly recommend reading Emma Goldsmith‘s article on memoQ 2014 R2.

But the change that gets most attention is the departure from the conventional toolbar-centric interface in favor of the Ribbon interface*.

The advantages of the ribbon

I’m a fan of the ribbon interface and generally find it superior to the conventional toolbars and menus. I always found the old toolbar-centric interface to be cluttered, distracting, and above all: restricting natural workflow and the discovery of functionality. This area is where I find the ribbon to excel the most.

I see the following advantages in the ribbon interface:

  • A cleaner design that gets out of the way;
  • The ribbon promotes a logical and more focused workflow;
  • Discoverability: unlike the conventional approach, in which one first had to be familiar with the functionality in order to look where to invoke it, the ribbon design assists users in discovering functionality as they go along with their work;
  • Since its introduction in MS Office 2007, the ribbon interface has found its way into other components of the Windows operating system (as well as other major third-party productivity tools), which effectively makes the ribbon a design language that can contribute to a more consistent user experience on Windows as a whole. Something that in my opinion was historically lacking.

The implementation of the ribbon interface in memoQ

When it comes to user experience and workflow in general, it is not the idea that counts, but its implementation. Change for the sake of change is not a virtue, and even the relatively little things can make or break a transition in user experience.
I was curious to learn about the rationale behind the transition to the ribbon interface, and hoped to gain some insight into its design principles. Kilgray was kind enough to help me with this by putting me in touch with Mónika Antunovics — memoQ architect — and she was kind enough to take the time and answer a few questions:

Q: Hello Mónika. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about memoQ 2014 R2. Can you please introduce yourself?

Mónika: Before joining Kilgray two years ago, I spent fifteen years directly or indirectly involved in software localization and internationalization at Microsoft. At Kilgray, most of my time is taken up by designing the new features of memoQ.

Q: The most prominent feature of memoQ 2014 R2 is the transition to the ribbon interface. In the past Kilgray stated that memoQ will never adopt the ribbon interface, and while I appreciate that people can change their perspective overtime, can you please share some insight into the thought process that led from that statement made about two years ago to the eventual introduction of the ribbon interface in memoQ 2014 R2?

Mónika: This is a question that’s really hard to answer; looking back, I couldn’t really identify the tipping point. It’s certainly true that when I joined Kilgray, the opinion about the ribbon from everybody I ever talked to was “over my dead body”. I was surprised at this, since even by that time the ribbon was considered a success even by the most respected user experience professionals. What prompted us to action in the end was the fact that the command pane below the project list and document list was taking up ever increasing space, and it was eating badly into the area where we were displaying the most important information. We discussed this a lot and even looked at a possible alternative solution, which, after some iterations, started to look suspiciously like a ribbon, although a bit less usable. I think the decision was taken after realizing that the ribbon would offer the most in terms of space gain.

Q: Was keeping consistent with Microsoft design language was a factor in the decision making?

Mónika: In my own case, I spent fifteen years there, that’s certainly an influence. Having been part of the Windows development team and participated in some product planning activities, I also had a closer insight into the tremendous amount of resources they have at their disposal for planning and usability studies. Needless to say, a small company like Kilgray can’t match that, so from the pragmatic point of view, why not use solutions Microsoft developed at their own cost and which have stood the test of time? There is also the principle of giving the user something she is familiar with, as it’s much easier to find the way around an interface that is built from well-known elements.

Q: Did the recent adoption of the ribbon interface by SDL in Studio 2014 and Atril in Déjà vu X3 played a role in the decision?

Mónika: I think the fact that our competitors are doing the same just shows that this is common sense – but if SDL and Atril moving in that direction influenced us in any way, I would say it was more delaying the inevitable ;-). Kilgray has never hidden its respect for its competitors such as SDL and Atril, but we do not copy other tools slavishly.

Q: In my humble opinion, the ribbon interface is more than just a cosmetic user interface (UI) design change, it is a change to the user experience (UX). This is probably the reason for some of the skepticism by experienced users concerned about possible disruption to their established workflow and ergonomics. From my experience, I estimate that they ribbon user experience will find its success and support, but how concerned was Kilgray about negative reaction from experienced users?

Mónika: There was some stage fright, but the first user tests reassured us that this was the right decision. Quite a few customers gave generously of their time and provided feedback on the ribbon. Their reaction was overwhelmingly positive; words like “intuitive” were mentioned more than once. Really negative feedback came about the fact that, with the old menus gone, some hotkeys inevitably changed, and people who relied on them were quite understandably upset; unfortunately this is something we can’t put right (on the other hand, shortcuts like Ctrl+Enter for committing a segment or Ctrl+F for Find all work as before). There were some suggestions about commands that could be more logically placed, although no two people said the same.

Q: I’m generally a fan of the ribbon and think Kilgray did a good job utilizing its advantages in memoQ 2014 R2. Can you please walk us through memoQ’s ribbon design principles?

memoQ 2014 R2 Ribbon interface structure
The anatomy of memoQ 2014 R2 ribbon interface

Mónika: The order of the ribbon tabs mimics a typical workflow – first you create/manipulate a Project, then do some work importing Documents, followed by Preparation of said documents for translation. Then you hand off your project for Translation and Review – during these phases linguists Edit a lot. Finally, you can influence memoQ’s appearance from the View tab.

We have also two special tabs: the tab called memoQ opens up the application menu, i.e. a surface where you can access commands that influence the behavior of memoQ in general (this is where you can activate, set options and access help, to name just a few). The other very special tab is called Quick Access – this one was designed with translators in mind, and gives them commands from other ribbon tabs that they are most likely to want to use during translation.

We have also many so-called context tabs, which appear only in a given context, like editing a TM or extracting terminology.

Q: I noticed that the Settings menu and few other panes kept their old design, which personally I find a little cluttered. Are there any plans to redesign them as well?

Mónika: We always have many more ideas than we have the resources to implement :). I personally would love to embed the settings fully in the application menu, but having seen that Options is a pop-up window even in Microsoft Word, I do wonder when we’ll finally get around to doing that.

Q: In my opinion, a good user experience must include some element of customizability. Unlike Microsoft Office’s ribbon, memoQ’s ribbon currently doesn’t offer any customizability options, and I think that for the very least the Quick Access toolbar should be customizable. Are there any plans to make the Quick Access toolbar user customizable?

Mónika: Definitely! In fact, we wanted to make the Quick Access toolbar customizable from the very start, but some technicalities I won’t go into prevented us doing this in time for the release. Stay tuned.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Mónika, it is much appreciated. Do you have anything you want to add?

Mónika: There is much more to memoQ 2014 R2 than the ribbon – we’ve revamped the TM editor, introduced a major usability improvement into segmentation rules, and translators can now even share TMs and TBs via Language Terminal with up to three people, which can be very useful for small, informal teams of translators. Go ahead, download, try and enjoy!

Summary

I witnessed a few transitions to the ribbon user experience and a reaction pattern has emerged: The announcement is followed by immediate skepticism, but as more users actually start using the ribbon user experience, the reaction gets increasingly positive.
Kilgray did a good job in implementing the ribbon and utilizing its inherit benefits, and therefore I’m convinced memoQ 2014 R2 will follow the same pattern. By now, I think the ribbon user experience has proven itself enough to generally become a non-issue, and even a preferred feature when implemented correctly.

It is reassuring to learn that the Quick Access toolbar will become customizable in the future, and while ideally I would prefer to be able to add an entirely new user customized tab to the ribbon, the Quick Access toolbar is a good start.

In memoQ 2014 R2 the ribbon might get most attention, but some important functionality foundations were laid for the future, and the usual further optimization to current features is present as well.
As always, this is a generally safe upgrade for those who like to be early adopters, but for those who prefer a more conservative approach it is advised to wait a few months before upgrading.

Footnote
* A little terminology anecdote: The term ribbon was traditionally used to refer to what is now being commonly known as the conventional toolbar-centric interface, whereas what we refer to as ribbon is actually called by Microsoft the Fluent User Interface (FUI), which I find to be a much more appropriate description of it. Back to the article

SDL Studio 2014 SP2 Review; or Farewell Java, it has been a roller coaster ride

Studio 2014 SP2 was officially released on November 18, 2014. The official version includes some additional bug fixes compared to the Beta version I reviewed, but not new features were added or removed.

During the typical life-cycle of any major Studio version there are two types of updates:

  1. Cumulative update: A scheduled release of hotfixes to address customer impacting bugs, as well as critical performance and/or security issues.
  2. Service Pack (SP): A collection of updates and fixes that improves the overall stability of the software, and usually introduces some new features, or enhance the functionality of existing features.

SDL was kind enough to give me access to the Beta version of the upcoming SDL Studio (and MultiTerm) 2014 Service Pack 2 (SP2), scheduled for release as a free upgrade for all current Studio 2014 users at the end of November 2014.
I have been testing the Beta version for about two weeks now, and decided to briefly go over the primary changes and give my general impression so far for the benefit of those who might be interested to know what is coming.

Continue reading →