Why Windows 10 1909 should not be a one-off

It's never easy figuring out what Microsoft is up to when it comes to its plans for Windows 10. But the way it's handled updates in 2019 could point to what it plans to do in 2020 and beyond.

Microsoft Windows 10 laptop

Microsoft last week released Windows 10 version 1909, an oddball update that was far more rehash than refresh.

Purportedly the second upgrade for the year, in reality 1909 — also dubbed the Windows 10 November 2019 Update — has so few new features that Windows veterans have compared it to old-school service packs,, the feature-free collections of fixes Microsoft used to issue every couple of years for the then-current OS. (The last time Redmond released a service pack was 2011, when it issued SP1 for Windows 7, the operating system staring at retirement in less than two months.)

Although Microsoft has never given a straightforward rationale for this change to its upgrade model, outsiders have speculated that it was linked to the disastrous rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, a.k.a. 1809. Pulled from distribution almost as soon as it landed — the upgrade erased customer data — 1809 was months late getting to users. To restore the schedule, the thinking went, Microsoft skipped an upgrade by building an un-upgrade.

Because Windows 10 1909 is so unusual in the context of Microsoft's OS-as-a-service framework, it isn't surprising that users have questions. (So did Computerworld.) What's been surprising has been Microsoft's silence. It hasn't bothered to answer many of those questions.

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