Upcoming Windows 10 1909: Update or upgrade? Microsoft clarifies

The next version of Windows 10, due out this fall, will continue to offer Windows Update for Business controls, the company says.

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Microsoft this week clarified how the unprecedented Windows 10 refresh expected to ship in September will behave when users decide to skip installing it or want to postpone its appearance on their PCs.

"Customers can control 19H2 like other Feature Updates," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email. "For [Windows 10] Home and [Windows 10] Pro users, control will also remain unchanged and largely up to the user when to initiate when the update occurs."

Microsoft has code-named the fall release as 19H2 for now - the label identifying the upgrade as the second of the year - but it will likely be later named 1909 in the company's four-digit yymm format.

On the business front, where users and IT administrators historically have had much more control over incoming code, the refresh will also hew to the rules of a twice-annual feature upgrade.

"Windows Update for Business (WUfB) controls will be unchanged with 1909," Microsoft said. "19H2 will be treated in the same fashion as previous Feature Updates."

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet first reported on the it's-still-a-feature-upgrade nature of 19H2/1909 Monday.

Questions about the fall's feature upgrade arose because Microsoft made much about how the refresh would be strikingly different from past examples. "We will deliver this feature update in a new way, using servicing technology (like the monthly update process)," John Cable, director of program management for the Windows servicing and delivery team, wrote in a July 1 post to a company blog.

How Microsoft characterized 1909 and how it plans to distribute the upgrade are important to customers, especially to the people responsible for deploying updates and upgrades within their companies or organizations. Terms matter, even if Microsoft sometimes blurs the lines, intentionally or not.

A feature upgrade, for example, can be deferred for up to 365 days by those running Windows 10 Pro and serviced through WUfB, and delayed even longer - although not indefinitely - on Windows 10 Home simply by not selecting the "Download and install now" (DaIN) option. (Windows 10 Enterprise-powered PCs are almost exclusively managed by IT administrators using WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) and other servicing platforms.) Monthly updates deployed through Windows Update and WUfB, however, can be paused only for a maximum of 35 days, in 7-day increments.

Elsewhere and as Microsoft issued a second preview of 19H2/1909 to Windows Insider participants who had assigned their devices to the "Slow" ring, the company repeated an explanation of how it will treat new features in the upgrade.

"Note that these changes and improvements are currently OFF by default in this build," said Dona Sarkar and Brandon LeBlanc, the two Microsoft employees who customarily blog about new Insider releases. "As mentioned previously, we may ship features in these updates turned off by default and turn them on via controlled feature rollouts. With today's 19H2 build, we are testing this experience."

Earlier, Microsoft said it was using this approach - one similar to that of browser makers including Google and Mozilla - to test the new feature or enhancements with progressively larger groups, so that if a bug slipped through it wouldn't affect everyone.

Sarkar and LeBlanc confirmed that in their post. "Our plan is to quickly follow-up with another 19H2 build that turns these features on for a subset of Insiders and proceed from there based on feedback and quality."

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