Microsoft Kills One of Its Best Windows 10 Update Loopholes

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Kills One of Its Best Windows 10 Update Loopholes
Screenshot: Microsoft

As Microsoft continues to roll out its latest Windows 10 version 2004 update to consumers and businesses, it seems like it’s taking away some key perks of having a non-home version of the OS, mainly the ability to delay major updates. First spotted by WindowsTimes, Microsoft has quietly reduced the amount of time Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education users can manually delay updates, from 365 days to just 35 days, which is the current amount of time Home users have.

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According to Microsoft, this change is intentional. The company wants to “prevent confusion” so all devices running Windows 10 can make the most of a policy change it instituted last year: only targeting devices running a major update version that is nearing end of service. That means if you haven’t updated in a while, regardless of what version of Windows you have, you’ll have to update.

However, Microsoft seems to have anticipated some potential blowback prior to this change; Business users can still defer updates via the Group Policy setting. Microsoft says:

“If you wish to continue leveraging deferrals, you can use local Group Policy (Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business > Select when Preview builds and Feature Updates are received or Select when Quality Updates are received).”

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Microsoft also quietly changed the menu location of Window’s 10 Fresh Start feature in version 2004, which caused some confusion about whether or not the feature had been completely removed.

The problem with Microsoft removing or reducing Windows 10 users’ ability to manually defer major updates is that there might be instability-causing bugs it has yet to fix. TechRadar recently reported on a bug in versions 1903 and 1909 that causes some computers to randomly reboot with a “your PC will automatically restart in one minute” warning message. And those versions released less than a year ago.

Version 1903 also had other prevalent issues, too. The update could break discrete GPU functionality on Surface Book 2s. Some Qualcomm and Realtek device driver versions weren’t compatible with the update. Some users with an Intel audio driver experienced faster than normal battery drain. Oh, and let’s not forget about the bug that caused high CPU usage, or a more recent bug that prevented device drivers from properly loading. Need I go on?

Microsoft ‘mitigated’ some of these problem by blocking affected products from updating to Windows 10 1903 automatically, but that left people who had already updated and passed the 30-day rollback window SOL. They’re stuck with the bugs until Microsoft releases a new version that fixes them.

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But infamously, the Windows 10 October 2018 version 1809 update was delayed for a month because a serious bug deleted users’ files after updating. And ever after fixing that there was another major bug that overwrote extracted zip files without any confirmation. Microsoft was able to issue patches and resume the rollout of version 1809 in November 2018.

If you want to see everything that Microsoft has fixed or has yet to fix with any of its Windows 10 versions, you can see that here. And hold out for as long as you can before applying the version 2004 update if you haven’t already. My computer is telling me “The Windows 10 May 2020 Update is on its way,” but I’m not hitting update until my OS forces me to...and I’ll just have to pray that nothing goes wrong.

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Staff Reporter, Reviews at Gizmodo. Formerly PC Gamer, Maximum PC.

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DISCUSSION

hippoposthumous
Hippoposthumous

I understand the problem with buggy releases, but I also understand that waiting a year to update can open a network up to potentially serious security gaps. A month ought to be long enough to vet a release for basic stability, and it seems like a small enough price to pay to avoid things like preventable ransomware attacks.