Microsoft’s Farzana Rahman, the group program manager for Windows Update, has posted about the details of the planned improvement for Windows Update on Windows 8 on an extensive blog post in the Building Windows 8 blog.
According to Rahman, Windows 8 OS updating will be improved in two main ways.

First, she says that Windows Update will consolidate all restarts in a month, synchronizing with the monthly security release (you might know this by its “Patch Tuesday” moniker) and that Windows Update will notify you of any upcoming automatic restart in the log-in screen.

For the first area of improvement, Rahman writes:
“This means that your PC will only restart when security updates are installed and require a restart. With this improvement, it does not matter when updates that require restarts are released in a month, since these restarts will wait till the security release. Since security updates are released in a single batch on the second Tuesday of every month, you are then getting essentially one restart a month. This simplification helps in three ways: it keeps the system secure in a timely manner, reduces restarts, and makes restarts more predictable.”

Nonetheless, there’s an exception to this rule so there might be times when the ideal one-restart-per-month for Windows Update will not hold true.
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User experience with Windows Update will be improved for Windows 8. Image: Microsoft

This is for times when a patch for a very critical vulnerability with Windows 8 is released by Microsoft. Rahman assures, however, that “this will happen only when the security threat is dire enough.”

For the second area of improvement, Rahman says that Windows Update will notify the user on the log-in screen that an upcoming automatic restart is scheduled by Windows 8 Windows Update.

This notification will last for three days, Rahman says, to “allow you to restart at your own convenience”.
With Windows 8, users will also “no longer see any pop-up notifications or dialogs about pending restarts” while on the desktop or on the home screen.

Microsoft has also thought of the loss of data with Windows 8 as users sometimes get shocked that Windows has automatically restarted without them being able to save their current work before the restart occurred.

According to Rahman:
“If after three days, the restart still has not occurred, then WU will automatically restart your PC for you. In this case, the automatic restart will happen either at the end of the three-day grace period, or, to prevent data loss if WU detects that there are critical applications open at the end of the three-day grace period, it will wait to automatically restart the next time you login.”

She continues:
Delay the automatic restart if there is potential of losing user data. If the PC has hit the three-day deadline and still needs an automatic restart, WU will only automatically restart the machine if there is no chance of losing the user’s data. That means, if you are not at your PC (i.e. it is locked), if you have applications running in the background, or if there is potentially unsaved work, WU delays the automatic restart until the next time you come back to your machine and log in. At log-in, you will be asked to save your work, and you’ll see a warning that the machine will be restarted within 15 minutes.”
So if these improvements are implemented seamlessly with Windows 8, users can expect a better experience with Windows Update on the next-generation Microsoft operating system.

You can read Rahman’s post here for more details about the improvements being made to Windows Update on Windows 8 along with data about current user behavior regarding Windows Update on other Microsoft operating systems.