Microsoft

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The May feature update for Windows 10 began a limited roll out yesterday. This is the one that gives users control over when to download and install future Windows 10 updates. Some were excited about this new level of control because Windows 10 updates have consistently produced serious problems ranging from bricking computers to deleting personal text files, photos and music collections.  I recently wrote that the May update only gives users a limited degree of control over future updates. Now Microsoft has revealed that user control is even more limited than previously thought.

Microsoft tends to phrase announcements about replacing automatic updates with user control in ways that lead people to believe they will have complete control over the update process. This is far from true, but you have to read blogs on Microsoft’s Windows website to find this out. For starters, users can only control the timing for Windows 10’s twice-yearly feature updates. Windows 10’s monthly updates—which also cause problems—are still automatic. In addition, the feature updates can’t be forestalled until you’re sure all the serious problems have been solved. They can only be delayed for a maximum of 35 days and doing so requires the user to manually renew the delay on a weekly basis. Miss the weekly deadline and the latest feature update automatically installs whether you want it to or not.

This isn’t what I thought it would be.

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Now we find out that there’s another limit on user control of the update process. At the beginning of April, Microsoft announced that when “Windows 10 devices are at, or will soon reach, end of service, Windows update will continue to automatically initiate a feature update.” That sounds reasonable but it depends on what Microsoft means by “soon”. In its latest blog post, “soon” turns out to mean “within several months”. Okay, how many months are there in “several”? Probably more than you think.

Last year’s April feature update for Windows 10 caused system crashes, didn’t work with some popular solid-state drives, froze apps like the Chrome and Firefox browsers, broke webcams and more. This update reaches end of service in November and, as noted, Microsoft will begin automatically updating it to this year’s May update “several “months beforehand. How many months is that for Microsoft? Five. Current versions of Windows 10 will start automatically updating to this year’s May update in less than two weeks.

You can protect yourself from Windows 10 updates right now.

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But what if you don’t want to install the May feature update until Microsoft has solved the serious problems we already know it has, not to mention the ones that will show up after release if this update is like all the previous ones? You need the May update to get even limited control over the update process, right? Wrong. Windows 10 already has all the tools you need to block automatic updates completely (not recommended), or better yet, have full control over when an update is installed after being informed that it’s available. Step-by-step instructions can be found here.

I wish we didn’t have to worry about Windows 10 updates breaking our systems. But we do. I’m sure Microsoft is doing everything it can to produce safe updates. But it’s track record thus far is abysmal. Users would be wise to delay feature updates for Windows 10 as long as possible until Microsoft releases at least a year’s worth of updates that are free of the serious problems that have plagued every feature update since Windows 10 first released in 2015.



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