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Windows 11 will finally tell you how long an update will take

Windows 11 Install
Windows 11 Install (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows 11 will show you an estimated time for how long an update will take.
  • Microsoft explained that Windows 11 updates are 40% smaller and will install faster than updates for previous versions of Windows.
  • At this time, the time estimate for an update does not always appear.

Windows updates frustrate people for many reasons, including being a bit of a mystery. Some Windows updates install quickly, while others seem to take forever. That will hopefully be a thing of the past, thanks to a new feature for Windows 11. The new operating system will let you know how long a Windows update will take.

We'd heard about this feature already, but there are now screenshots of it in action, courtesy of gHacks. When an update for a PC running Windows 11 was ready, the usual prompt to update the system also listed a time estimate.

The folks at gHacks broke out a stopwatch and determined that the update actually took just a minute, which is significantly shorter than the five minutes the OS estimated. That's probably welcome, though, as people would prefer a more conservative estimate for how long an update will take.

Source: gHacks (Image credit: Source: gHacks)

At least at this time, it does not appear that this option always shows up. I have an update ready to install on my PC running the latest Windows 11 Insider preview build, but the Settings app doesn't show a time estimate for the update. The power icon within my Start menu doesn't show the time estimate either.

During the Windows 11 livestream, Microsoft's Panos Panay promised that Windows 11 updates will be 40% smaller and install quicker than updates for previous versions of Windows. In conjunction with those improvements, a time estimate for updates should make the process of keeping Windows 11 up to date a lot less stressful.

Microsoft is also returning to one major feature update per year, so you'll run into longer updates less frequently.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

12 Comments
  • the windows 11 ui is so ugly lol . I miss windows 8.1
  • It so ugly I miss Windows 95
  • Windows 11 is definitely stealing some mojo from Windows 95, and going back to boring, ugly icons, but Windows 95 did it better! (and I agree, that screenshot of the Windows 11 version is ugly!) I'll be looking into Stardock's 3rd party answer (like Start 8/ Start 10). During Windows 8.0 time, I used their Windows 7 like Option, and really liked it,, but have stuck with the Windows default since 8.1.
  • I like it more than 8.1
  • I can live without this. But people make such a big fuss about updating Windows that I guess it's amazing for some.
  • Speaking of Updates. I launched To Do and the app showed a update status within the app as it updated itself. Didn't divert to the store to have me click on update. I was too busy sneezing to take a screenshot lol.
  • Oh yeah, so it does
  • Windows 11 and MS SUCKS!! Its conveniently tweaked, where you have blow a bunch more money on new tech to use it. And Yes the UI Stinks. The MS / PC marketing ploy, "and great security features, and again you have to blow more money on modern /current tech!
  • @Polygonal someone is extremely salty... People on Windows 10 get Windows 11 for free. It's upto an individual if they want to make the investment in terms of hardware. Plus it doesn't have to be on the bleeding edge either....
  • Why should have to junk 12 month old PCs because Microsoft says in 2025 these machines can't run Windows 11? Churches and charities don't have bottomless pockets.
  • I wonder if from now on it will do insider updates in the background and just update what has changed? One of the things I hate about insider builds is you need a complete copy each time. This is very painful then you need to delete your old backup version from the (OLD) directory. Will be interesting to see what happens in the next insiders release over the coming weeks.
  • Turn off "Restart this device as soon as possible when a restart is required to install an update. Windows will display a notice before the restart, and device must be on and plugged in." Turn on "Show a notification when your PC requires a restart to finish updating". These settings are in Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options. These are the dumbest settings ever. They should just default to off | on. I think they default the other way around and that is my theory why people don't like Windows Update. They get surprised by it. With these setting off | on, you just reboot when you have time to take the update.