Win10 (1803) declared 'fully available,' throwing Windows Update for Business under the bus

Microsoft says its new A.I. is so good, it’s ready to push Win10 version 1803 to your machine – and businesses should follow suit. Patching pros say, 'Wuh?' Hubris, thy name is Microsoft.

Windows 10 April Update

After 45 days in the unpaid beta testing phase, Microsoft surprised most of the patching world yesterday by declaring that Windows 10 April 2018 Update is ready for deployment in the enterprise. By doing so, Microsoft simultaneously raised the ire of almost everyone in the patching industry, demonstrated how out-of-touch its metrics have become, and completely destroyed the underpinnings of “Current Branch for Business.”

Win10 version 1803 entered the unpaid beta testing phase (officially known as the “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) branch” or, previously, “Current Branch”) on April 30. Yesterday, Microsoft declared that Win10 1803 is ready for business deployment:

Based on the update quality and reliability we are seeing through our AI approach, we are now expanding the release broadly to make the April 2018 Update (version 1803) fully available for all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide. Full availability is the final phase of our rollout process. You don’t have to do anything to get the update; it will rollout automatically to you through Windows Update.

Enterprise customers can also follow the same targeted approach for the Semi-Annual Channel and fully deploy Windows 10, version 1803 when ready.  IT administrators can decide when to broadly deploy once you have validated the apps, devices, and infrastructure in your organization work well with this release.  

The terminology has changed at least three times since Win10’s initial release, but to use the terms most familiar to patching people, Microsoft has reduced the full-on testing time – the interval between “Current Branch” and “Current Branch for Business” – significantly:

Our AI approach has enabled us to quickly spot issues during deployment of a feature update, and as a result has also allowed us to go faster responsibly.  In fact, the April 2018 Update is officially the fastest version of Windows 10 to reach 250 million devices, achieving that mark in less than half the time it took the Fall Creators Update!

How long has it taken Microsoft to bestow the “ready for business” imprimatur?

  • Win10 1511 (Nov. 10, 2015 to Apr. 8, 2016) = 150 days
  • Win10 1607 (Aug. 2, 2016 to Nov. 29, 2016) = 119 days
  • Win10 1703 (Apr. 11, 2017 to July 11, 2017) = 91 days
  • Win10 1709 (Oct. 17, 2017 to Jan. 18, 2018) = 93 days
  • Win10 1803 (Apr. 30, 2018 to June 14, 2018) = 45 days

That A.I. is gooooood, eh?

Mind you, version 1803 is the one that shipped with multiple major flaws, including

  • The inability to run on many Toshiba and Intel solid state drives, which was fixed May 23, or 22 days ago;
  • Conflicts with Avast antivirus (which Microsoft hints was Avast’s fault, while Avast points the accusatory finger back at MS), also apparently fixed on May 23;
  • A conflict with Intuit QuickBooks that was solved by a hotfix on June 5 and rolled into the cumulative update on June 12, or three days ago;
  • The SMBv1-related problem ““An invalid argument was supplied,” which was fixed on… oh, wait a minute, Microsoft says that one’s still a problem and it will be fixed “in June;”
  • The new partition bug, where installing 1803 creates new, bogus partitions that may re-assign drive letters. That one hasn’t been solved, and it isn’t clear whether it will ever be retroactively solved for those who were taken in by an earlier buggy patch.

Of course, Microsoft’s “A.I. approach” has made the world a better place, and folks who have to patch are now instructed to eat dirt. At this point, it looks like 1803 is going to be pushed onto most machines, very rapidly. Microsoft claims that 1803 is already running on 250 million machines, on a user base “approaching 700 million monthly active devices.” moderator Susan Bradley says:

IT pros need a set schedule that relies on a reliable declaration of “ready for business.”  We need real intelligence, not artificial, making these decisions.

We still have some key issues that need fixing before Win10 version 1803 should be deemed business ready.

All of this is happening against a backdrop of terminology change and uncertainty about Microsoft’s Win10 patching advice. Again. Late last month, Microsoft put us on notice that the “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)” bafflegab is about to change. With this latest development – prematurely shoving 1803 into the CBB bucket – Microsoft is simply, aggressively, reasserting its control over Win10 machines.

Why is Microsoft pushing so hard, raising the hackles of just about everybody who’s concerned about Win10 patching? AskWoody MVP PKCano has an explanation that fits the evidence:

I can see why they are doing this. They were late releasing 1803. It should have been close to 3 months out in the public before hitting “CBB,” instead of 1.5. To keep on their schedule it needs to be pushed.

They have just made a reason to force 1703 users to 1803, because come July Patch Tuesday, the 365 days will be up for 1703. They made the announcement they were doing away with "Targeted" classification. Now they can push out Upgrades whenever they want - get used to having NO control.

At this point, it appears as if the only way to avoid having your Win10 machine pushed to Win10 version 1803, is to use the metered connection kludge with wushowhide, which I discuss in How to block the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, version 1803, from installing. In addition, Pro/Enterprise users should set the feature update deferral (Step 3 in that discussion) to 365 days.

And pray that Microsoft doesn’t alter the deal any further.

Windows 10 forced upgrades -- bane or blight? Join us on the AskWoody Lounge.

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