Patching behavior in Win10 1903 changes dramatically – for the better

Patching behavior in Win10 1903 changes dramatically – for the better

For years, my main objection to Windows 10 has been its cavalier attitude toward patching: You got the monthly cumulative update (“quality updates”) whenever Microsoft pushed it; you got new versions (“feature updates”) when Microsoft’s vaunted AI (now called ML) decided your machine could take them; and heaven help you if you clicked “Check for updates.”

As you no doubt know by now, clicking “Check for updates” installed anything and everything Microsoft had stockpiled for your machine, often to deleterious effect.

Back in April, Microsoft’s Mike Fortin announced a change of heart:

[W]e have heard clear feedback that the Windows update process itself can be disruptive, particularly that Windows users would like more control over when updates happen. Today we are excited to announce significant changes in the Windows update process, changes designed to improve the experience, put the user in more control, and improve the quality of Windows updates.

Let’s leave aside the “improve the quality of Windows updates” part and focus on the procedural changes Fortin promised.

We are adding new features that will empower users with control and transparency around when updates are installed. In fact, all customers will now have the ability to explicitly choose if they want to update their device when they “check for updates” or to pause updates for up to 35 days.

The details didn’t quite work out that way, but it’s ballpark-close. Said Fortin:

Users can still “Check for updates” to get monthly quality and security updates… All Windows 10 devices with a supported version will continue to automatically receive the monthly updates. This new “download and install” option will also be available for our most popular versions of Windows 10, versions 1803 and 1809, by late May.

In fact, until a few weeks ago, Windows Update in 1903 was all over the map. Many folks found that 1803 and 1809 sported “Download and install now” links for the “feature update” to version 1903. But many also found that managing cumulative updates (and, presumably, version changes) in 1903 Pro, in particular, was an unholy mess:

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