Don't rush to install Windows 10 Creators Update

For the first four months of a Win10 version's initial release, users are actually working as unpaid beta testers for Microsoft on the not-yet-stable version

Don't rush to install Windows 10 Creators Update
Credit: Pexels

Microsoft says it will begin pushing out the Windows 10 Creators Update, aka version 1703, on Tuesday, April 11, to anyone who has not disabled updates. Windows Insider beta testers on the Fast Ring have had the near-final version, build 10563, since March 23, and if you know where to look (Microsoft’s Update Assistant page or, if you are registered, from the Microsoft Developers Network), you can download Windows 10 Creators Update right now.

Don’t do it.

Given Microsoft’s recent history, chances are good there will be bugs that look like the mashup of the Keystone Kops and “Godzilla 2” that was Windows Anniversary Update build 14393.222, which included freezing and randomly disconnecting hard drives, failure of a widely used webcam, strange installation bugs, and tromped-on settings. Heaven help you if you tried to plug in a Kindle: The whole PC would freeze.

The dirty secret of Microsoft’s “Windows as a service” plan is that the initial public releases are really public beta tests, meant to catch flaws that the Windows Insider beta program did not, where regular users get to experience the thrill of finding Windows bugs in real time. Microsoft officially calls this the Pilot phase of the deployment cycle (see diagram below). But it’s also misleadingly identified as Current Branch, which normal people interpret to mean “current safe version.”

That Pilot phase lasts four months. The actual safe version (well, as safe as you can get with a Windows release), is called the Current Branch for Business.

Windows 10 deployment cycles Microsoft

If you upgrade to Windows 10 Creators Update right now, you’re joining the very beginning of the bug-catching Pilot phase.

If there were a compelling reason to upgrade, I’d be tempted to risk it. Sadly, there isn’t. Microsoft’s own pep talk about Creators Update features its 3D creation capabilities, its HoloLens support, the ability to chat while using your Xbox, and Edge’s faster rendering (which should appeal to the 4 percent of you who actually use Edge—no doubt, by default rather than by choice). Meh, meh, and more meh.

When I reviewed Windows 10 Creators Update, I found some worthwhile parts; the ability to easily block forced updates may well be the top new feature. And yesterday we learned that the Basic telemetry setting in Creators Update snoops only on 1,966 data points. Yes, that’s actually an improvement on what Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka version 1607, collected.) It’s anyone’s guess how much info you’re sending to Microsoft right now.

We’re slowly seeing some improvements in Windows 10, but the gains in Creators Update features don’t come close to overcoming the pain inherent in installing yet another insufficiently tested version of Windows. Let the fanboys serve as cannon fodder.

How do you keep Windows 10 Creators Update off your PC until it’s safe to run? It all depends on which version of Windows you’re using.

Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1: At this point there’s no indication that Microsoft will reinstitute its much maligned “Get Windows 10” campaign, so you only need to turn off Automatic Updating.

Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise: Choose Settings > Update & Security. Click Advanced Options and check the box marked Defer Feature Updates. That delays any updates until the Current Branch for Business version is released—that is, the safer version issued after the Pilot phase’s carnage subsides.

Windows 10 Home: Your choices aren’t as simple. If you connect to the internet via a Wi-Fi connection, you can set it to Metered, which halts automatic downloads of the huge update files. If you’re using an ethernet connection, Microsoft considers you fair game in the Pilot phase. But there are methods you can try to block forced Windows updates.

While you’re straightening out your own Windows 10 affairs, be sure to tell your friends. The rollout won’t happen overnight, but winter is coming, John Snow.

Commiseration continues on the AskWoody blog.

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