Windows 10 version 1803 customers: Brace for impact

Microsoft just officially announced that it’s revving up its algorithms, with an eye toward pushing Win10 version 1903 on machines running Win10 1803 or earlier. One little problem: It didn’t say how it's going to push. Possibilities — many of them unpleasant — abound.

Microsoft Windows update arrows / progress bars
IDG Communications

If you’re running Win10 version 1803 — still, by far, the most common version of Win10 — Microsoft has a little surprise for you. Yesterday, a one-paragraph amendment appeared on the official Release Information page for version 1903:

We are now beginning to build and train the machine learning (ML) based rollout process to update devices running the April 2018 Update, and earlier versions of Windows 10, to ensure we can continue to service these devices and provide the latest updates, security updates and improvements.

The only details we have at this point were announced back in April, when Microsoft VP Mike Fortin stated:

When Windows 10 devices are at, or will soon reach, end of service, Windows Update will continue to automatically initiate a feature update.

We’ve been expecting the push for a couple of months — Microsoft’s long been open about saying it was going to start forcing 1803-to-1903 upgrades in June — but I’ve always hoped that the announcement would be accompanied by some indication of how the push would, you know, shove.

My first question is whether the new-new machine-learning algorithms will be significantly better that the almost-new ML algorithms that gave us the horrible 1809 rollout, replete with permanently deleted files, or the then-new ML that gave us the 1803 rollout with DOA USB devices.

More than that, though, we only know that Microsoft is going to start pushing 1803 users to 1903 somehow. Will the ML pusher respect the Win10 1803 Pro’s defer upgrade settings? We already know that Microsoft no longer recognizes the Semi-Annual Channel setting, but what happens if the deferral is set to max out right about the time 1803’s set to expire, on Nov. 11?

(Yes, you read that right — 1803 officially has five months of life left, but Microsoft is starting to send it to the morgue in the coming days.)

Will the ML pusher respect the metered connection setting? Up until Microsoft promised that 1803 users would get a “Download and install now” option, metered connections were the only defense Home users had against pushed patches, short of disabling Windows Update.

For that matter, will those in imminent danger of being pushed to 1903 be given the promised block, the “Download and install now” link? Can you simply ignore the link until Nov. 10, and stay on 1803?

We don’t have answers to any of those questions. Until we do, your only hope for staying on 1803 is to follow my traditional instructions to block the upgrade to 1903.

When we know more — how the pushed upgrade actually works, as opposed to how Microsoft says it’ll work — you’ll hear about it here first.

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