Microsoft (finally) delivers service pack-like Windows 10 1909

The latest version of Windows 10 is little more than a rerun of the May version of the operating system, though it does offer a few new features.

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Microsoft on Tuesday released Windows 10 1909, a feature update that has little in the way of new features.

Also dubbed "Windows 10 November 2019 Update" - the 1909 moniker noted its year and month, even though the release was actually 1911 - the upgrade was immediately available to those who sought it.

(On an unmanaged PC, select Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, choose Check for updates and then pick Download and install now.)

On consumer PCs running Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro systems not overseen by IT, 1909 will be installed only when the user chooses "Download and install now." However, as the current edition nears its support expiration, Microsoft will take charge and start an upgrade. Computerworld has forecast that Microsoft won't begin force-feeding 1909 to users until late January, when it begins upgrading machines running Windows 10 1809. (On Windows 10 Home and Pro, 1809 drops off support May 12, 2020.) Most Windows 10 Home PCs running 1803 were compulsorily upgraded by Microsoft to 1903 in the four months prior to the former's retirement using this mechanism.

Commercial customers on Tuesday were also told to kickstart their testing of 1909. "IT administrators should begin targeted deployments to validate that the apps, devices and infrastructure used by their organizations work as expected with the new release and features," wrote John Cable, director of program management, in a Nov. 12 post to a company blog.

Service packs come to Windows 10

For those keeping score, Windows 10 1909 is notable for what it is not: It is not a feature upgrade as Microsoft has defined the term for Windows 10. Instead, 1909 will be little more than a rerun of May's 1903, including all the fixes Microsoft has made to that version since its debut, and a very small number of new features.

The November update's composition and content (or lack of it) impacted how it will be delivered, something Microsoft spent time Tuesday describing here and here.

"Devices running Windows 10, version 1903 can take advantage of a new way of servicing that leverages the same servicing technology used to deliver monthly quality updates to get the new features and capabilities available in version 1909," wrote John Wilcox, Alec Oot and Will Patton, all part of the Windows Servicing & Delivery team, in a blog post yesterday.

(On the other hand, devices running Windows 10 1803 and earlier process 1909 the now-standard way.)

Because 1909 is a retread of 1903 - albeit with a handful of new, minor features - the code for the latest cumulative refresh of the latter and the code for the former is identical. (In fact, Microsoft embedded the 1909 features inside the October cumulative update for 1903, the one released Oct. 8.) All it takes to shift from 1903 to 1909 is to install what Microsoft calls an "enablement package," a small download that switches on the new features.

(The enablement package - described in more detail in this support document - is bundled with Windows 1909 when users refresh from a version other than 1903.)

Even at its release, questions remained about 1909. Several that Computerworld posed in September, for instance, still have no answers, including whether the 1909 model is a one-off or will become the standard for all fall "upgrades."

Along with the release of Windows 10 1909, Nov. 12 also marked the end of support for Windows 10 1803, the refresh also known as "April 2018 Update," for Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 Enterprise 1803 and Windows 10 Education 1803, however, will be supported until Nov. 10, 2020. (When Microsoft extended Enterprise's and Education's support to 30 months for each fall upgrade, the Redmond, Wash. developer also gave the four previous upgrades, including 1803, 30 months to "provide additional flexibility for customers who need more time.")

Yes, it's confusing. It's Microsoft.

Windows 10 1909's support retirement was set by Microsoft at May 11, 2021 for Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, and at May 10, 2022 for Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.

More information about Windows 10 1909 for enterprises can be found here.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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