Disappearing Windows Update deferral pane suddenly reappears

An unexplained and unacknowledged bug in Win10 version 1903 Pro Windows Update advanced options made deferral settings vanish. Without any forewarning, it appears as if the bug has been fixed in October’s 'optional, non-security' second cumulative update.

Open windows with billowy curtains

Think of it as the patching prodigal son.

When Microsoft released Win10 version 1903 — indeed, in the later beta test copies of 1903, dating back to early this year — a funny thing happened. Many testers discovered that Win10 1903 hid its update deferral settings, if you had the temerity to change them.

For those who haven’t changed their update deferral settings, Win10 version 1903 Pro invites you to change the settings in a portion of the Windows Update advanced options dialog (to see it, click Start > Settings > Update & Security > Advanced options). 

1903 update deferrals zero Woody Leonhard/IDG

Many of you discovered that if you change either the feature update deferral setting or the quality update deferral setting — made either of them non-zero — then rebooted, that part of the advanced options dialog disappeared entirely.


Here’s the kicker. Even though you can’t see, or change, the 1903 deferral settings in advanced options, they’re still in effect. If you elect to defer quality updates for 15 days, for example, when you reboot the deferral option won’t appear anywhere in the advanced options dialog — but quality updates (cumulative updates) will be deferred for 15 days.

It’s bizarre. The option doesn’t appear anywhere. You can’t change it, short of rummaging around in Group Policy or the Registry. But it still, silently, controls the fate of your Windows updating.

It was, and is, one of the most frustrating bugs in Win10 version 1903. I’ve talked about the bug, repeatedly, since 1903 hit the fan. It’s one of the main reasons why I haven’t installed 1903 on my production machines.

And now it looks like Microsoft is poised to fix the bug.

Based on an initial report by Bree in Tenforums, I’m very happy — and startled — to announce that the bug has apparently been fixed in Win10 1903’s KB 4522355, the “optional, non-security” second cumulative update for October. It’s thus poised (but not guaranteed) to be present in next week’s Win10 version 1903 Patch Tuesday update.

As @Tex265 noted, and confirmed by @b, @PKCano, and my own tests, installing KB 4522355 (which I still don’t recommend for “normal” users) brings back the mislaid part of the advanced options dialog.

update deferral showing in 449 Woody Leonhard/IDG

It’s a Festivus miracle!

As best I can tell, Microsoft has never mentioned this bug. Its fix in KB 4522355 isn’t documented anywhere I can find. But, for anyone who cares about controlling Windows updates, the deferral setting reappearance is exceedingly good news.

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