If the Windows 'update and shut down' option restarts your PC instead, it's not just you

 The default Windows XP wallpaper.
The default Windows XP wallpaper.

Have you ever seen the Windows login screen on your monitor and thought, "Wait a minute, didn't I tell it to shut down?"

For a while, I doubted myself: Maybe I had told Windows to "update and restart" instead of "update and shut down." And maybe I should go check the burners on the stove, because clearly I can't be trusted with on/off states.

But no, it wasn't me. When I mentioned this experience in a meeting recently, another PC Gamer editor said, Wait a minute, you too?

Windows has been sporadically ignoring the "restart and shut down" option since at least 2021, when someone asked what was up with their PC restarting instead of shutting down on the official Windows forum. Then, about eight months ago, a dozen or so people reported the problem in a Reddit thread. That's around the time it started happening for me.

"Because of this weird bug, I can't trust selecting 'Update and Shut Down' at the end of my work day," wrote the Reddit poster. "It works around 50% of the time, but often the system would restart 2-3 times to finish applying update and end up at the login screen. If I leave my laptop on battery power, it would be dead when I find it the next morning."

Some say the bug occurs whenever Windows needs to restart multiple times to apply an update, but I'm not sure about that—for me, it seems like it just restarts once, regardless of whether I tell it to update and shut down or update and restart. Back in that 2021 thread, someone said it was a BIOS issue, so you might try updating your motherboard's firmware, but I can't say for sure whether or not that's the problem.

Funnily, if you go back far enough in the Google search results you can find someone complaining about the "update and shut down" feature doing what it says it does. Rather than restarting to finish the update, it was leaving the PC shut down and finishing the update on the next boot.

Well, fair enough—that's not ideal, either. The best version of the system would reboot as many times as needed and then 'remember' to shut down as requested. That seems to be how it's meant to work in Windows 11. But it doesn't.

I can't find any official Microsoft support comment on the matter, but on the chance that it's my fault for being lazy about motherboard maintenance, I'll refrain from ranting about long-standing Windows bugs here. (Though I really can't guess why a slightly old BIOS would have anything to do with this.)

Mainly, I just wanted to let anyone who's experienced this know that they haven't lost their grip on reality. You did lock your car. You did turn off the oven. And you did click "update and shut down."