Windows 10: New update controls for end users, automatic removal of broken updates

It seems that last year’s Windows 10 updating troubles have spurred Microsoft to make some changes to the operating system’s update experience and the company’s quality testing of updates.

“In previous Windows 10 feature update rollouts, the update installation was automatically initiated on a device once our data gave us confidence that device would have a great update experience. Beginning with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, users will be more in control of initiating the feature OS update,” Microsoft’s corporate VP of Windows Mike Fortin has shared.

Changes for users

Unlike security updates, which are pushed out every month, feature updates are released two times per year. The next one scheduled for Windows 10 is the May 2019 Update (Windows 10 version 1903).

Starting with this update, end users will get the notification that it’s available, but they will be offered a modicum of choice on when the update will be installed.

They will be able to:

  • Download and install it immediately
  • Download it and pause the installation for up to 35 days (this extension ability is for all editions of Windows 10, including Home, and will work both for feature and monthly updates)
  • Avoid downloading and installing it until their version of Windows 10 is close to the end of the support window designated by Microsoft. Once that threshold is reached, Windows will automatically initiate a new feature update.

To minimize disruptions and avoid disruptive update restarts while they are immersed in their work, users will also be able to make the system determine their “active hours” so that Windows and Microsoft Store updates can occur when they are away from their devices.

In addition to this, Microsoft has also recently revealed that, starting with version 1903, users may occasionally see this message:

Windows 10 update controls

“If your device displays this message after sign in, then your device has recently recovered from a startup failure on Windows 10, Version 1903,” Microsoft explained.

“If Windows detects that your machine cannot start up successfully, it will try to diagnose and resolve failures due to disk issues, system file corruption, invalid registry keys, or other such causes. If all these steps are unsuccessful and your machine is still unable to start up properly, Windows will determine if the startup issue was introduced after recent driver or quality updates were installed. If so, these updates may be uninstalled automatically to get the device back to a workable state.”

When a buggy update is removed and the machine starts up successfully, Windows will prevent the removed updates from installing automatically for the next 30 days.

“This is intended to give Microsoft and our partners the opportunity to investigate the failure and resolve any issues. After 30 days, if the updates are still applicable, Windows will try to install them again,” the company noted.

Changes for Microsoft

To minimize the possibility of buggy updates being pushed onto users, Microsoft will start testing them more thoroughly.

“The final May 2019 Update build will spend increased time in the Release Preview Ring of the Windows Insider Program, allowing us to gather more feedback and insights on compatibility and performance at scale before making the update more broadly available,” Fortin shared.

During that phase, Microsoft, original equipment makers (OEMs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) will deploy the update internally to pinpoint possible issues.

The company is also working on identifying high-severity issues faster (even when they are reported by just a few customers), and on evolving their ML-based intelligent rollout model so that updates are rolled out first to devices that are likely to have the best update experience.

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