Some Win10 PCs are apparently being upgraded to version 2004 without consent

I’m seeing an increase in the number of people who claim that their Windows 10 version 1903 or 1909 computers were upgraded to version 2004, without warning. The behavior might be due to a bug in the way Win10 handles “Pause updates.”

Microsoft windows 10 2004 on hold
Mark Hachman / IDG

Every time Microsoft rolls out a new version of Windows 10, a certain percentage of Win10 customers claim their machines have been upgraded without their consent. Most of the time, some digging shows that the person who was upgraded had, in fact, clicked on something they shouldn’t have. 

On the other hand, almost every version upgrade has been accompanied by odd (mis-) behaviors that result in some PCs getting upgraded, without the advice or consent of the clobbered.

At this point, it appears we’re seeing a considerable number of no-consent upgrades from version 1903 and 1909 to version 2004. Some are convinced the forced upgrade is intentional. Others – including me – think these particular forced upgrades occur because of a bug.

How the upgrade’s supposed to work

The ground rules for version 2004 upgrades are pretty straightforward, and they’ve been set in stone for some time. As I explained last month, Win10 Pro and Home users who are deemed ready for the upgrade (using some arcane “AI” magic from Microsoft), and venture to the Update & Security pane, see an offer to upgrade to Win10 version 2004 (see screenshot).

download and install 2004 Microsoft

If you click Download and install, Windows Update downloads and installs 2004. If you don’t click, your machine stays on the version it’s currently using. (Machines attached to update servers follow the network admin’s rules, of course.)

That’s a very genteel approach, much appreciated by many of us. Sure, the rules will change as older versions of Win10 fall out of favor. But for the majority of Win10 customers, on 1903 and 1909, it’s a very straightforward and restrained rollout method. Customers have a chance to decide for themselves when they're ready to upgrade.

Bravo.

What changed

Yesterday, we saw two big changes to Microsoft’s 2004 rollout. 

Windows 10, version 2004 is available for users with devices running Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909 who manually seek to “Check for updates” via Windows Update. We are continuing our measured approach on initial availability, as we listen, learn, and adjust. Today we are increasing the number of devices that will be offered the May Update. 

Based on that wording, it isn’t at all clear whether clicking “Check for updates” will automatically upgrade you to version 2004 without notification, or offer a chance to hold back. If Microsoft is signaling a reversion to that old, darker interpretation of seeking, we’re all in a world of hurt.

How the upgrade appears to be working

Right now, all reports I’ve seen say that we’re supposed to be at the stage where you have to click “Download and install” in order to get moved to version 2004. In light of yesterday’s muddled announcement, I don’t know if that’s going to change.

The fly in the ointment: Many people report that - even before the change yesterday - they were pushed onto version 2004 without being asked for permission. The reports I’ve seen point to a combination of factors:

  • The Win10 1903 or 1909 PC must be “ready to upgrade” according to Microsoft’s magic “AI;”
  • You have “Pause updates” turned on;
  • Either the “Pause” expires, or you manually turn it off (possibly by altering a Registry setting, possibly by clicking “Resume updates”).

It appears as if that set of events triggers an update to 2004, even if you’ve set Win10 Pro’s “defer feature updates” setting to extend feature updates - which is to say, version upgrades - beyond today. 

If all three of those events come to pass – your PC's eligible, you pause, and the pause expires – it looks like you may get upgraded to Win10 version 2004 without being asked. No, you don’t have to click “Download and install.” Indeed, you’re never offered the opportunity.

Some people believe that Microsoft has changed the upgrade rules. I prefer to think of this as a specific bug. Hard to say, since, like so many important Windows update policies, it’s completely undocumented.

Do you know someone who’s been upgraded without their permission? I’d sure like to know the details on AskWoody.com.

Thx @jimmythesaint53, @flashcatj, @Hailstorm, @abbodi86, @PKCano.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon