System Boot Flexibility Coming to Windows 10 with Creators Update
Windows 10 "creators update" will bring some tweaked user controls when released this coming spring.
The announcement today by Michael Fortin, corporate vice president of the Windows and Devices Group Core Quality, and John Cable, director of program management for Windows Servicing and Delivery, mostly recapped a few features that are already known from Windows Insider Program test releases, namely the ability for end users to have better control over when system reboots occur and updated privacy settings options.
Microsoft this week released Windows 10 build 15046 for so-called "fast-ring" Windows Insider testers. This early creators update build showcases a few new features, including a new Windows Defender notification item that shows protection status and the ability to block the installation of non-Windows Store apps. The creators update also will feature a new Security Center panel of controls.
System Reboot Controls
The feature that will add improved control over system reboots, coming with the creators update, was added in response to customer feedback, Microsoft officials explained. Currently, Windows 10 Home edition users can't defer system updates. Moreover, they also have limited control over when the associated system reboots that may be required to complete an update will occur. Windows 10 Home edition users getting the creators update this spring still won't have an easy way to avoid system updates, but they at least will see a warning before a system restart takes effect.
A new popup message will give users the options to "Restart Now," "Pick a Time" or "Snooze" with regard to the system restart. The Pick a Time control has options to specify a day and time, per Microsoft's screenshot.
Update 3/2: It's possible to pick a day within a 7-day window, a Microsoft spokesperson clarified today via e-mail:
The "pick a day" button takes you to the Settings page. From there, customers will be able to schedule the update for any date in the future, however, the selection is within a 7 day range into the future at a time.
The Snooze option can defer an update for a maximum of three days. Microsoft also will extend the "Active Hours" specification in the creators update, which lets end users indicate time periods for when they don't want the disturbance of an update to occur. The current Windows 10 "anniversary update" permits a 12-hour span of time, but it reportedly will get extended to 18 hours in the creators update.
Likely, end users won't have unlimited delay options with this new approach, though. A Microsoft premier field engineer recently encapsulated the matter in a December video explanation of the Windows 10 branch release process. In the video aimed primarily at IT pros, Matt Camussi explained that "We're using the world as a guinea pig for your enterprises."
In this scenario, Windows 10 Home users are the guinea pigs. By default, they get the "current branch" releases of the operating system. Microsoft has previously described its current branch releases as something that organizations should primarily use just for testing purposes. However, Camussi said it is possible for end users to change that default using the Advanced Options of Windows Update, where there's a "Defer Feature Update" checkbox available. It wasn't specified in his talk, but possibly that option only applies with the Pro or Enterprise editions of Windows 10.
Update 3/2: The Microsoft spokesperson clarified that the Defer Feature Update is part of Advanced Options for the upper-end Windows 10 editions, and not for the Windows 10 Home edition, in the creators update:
The "Advanced Options" box is the UX manifestation of policy control for enterprise users, and so it only applies to the Ent/Edu/Pro editions of Windows. The snooze/schedule experience, however, will be available on all Windows SKUs.
Camussi explained that Microsoft uses the words, "feature update," in a technical sense, referring to its major build releases that happen maybe twice per year. There are also "quality updates," which contain feature changes but are better known as the monthly "patch Tuesday" releases.
The Windows 10 creators update also will show a new icon under "Windows Update Settings" that will make it easier for end users to verify that their system is up to date. In addition, Microsoft is also promising "fewer reboots" because of an improved Windows 10 update process. Possibly, the Microsoft officials were referring to a new update process that's expected to reduce the size of major Windows 10 update by "approximately 35%."
Microsoft's announcement also referred to new privacy options coming in the Windows 10 creators update. These changes were described earlier this year by Terry Myerson, executive vice president for the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft. Back then, it was noted that Windows 10 users who have already selected privacy settings will get prompted to set them again with the creators update via a newly designed screen.
Telemetry reporting options in the Windows 10 creators update will change from "Basic, Full or Enhanced" to just "Basic or Full," per this new approach. IT pros will be able to control the telemetry settings via Group Policy, registry settings or via mobile device management solution. A "Security" level telemetry setting is also available for managed systems, but just for the editions of Windows 10 above Pro.
IT Pro Resources
While Microsoft harvests telemetry from its Windows Insider Program enthusiast participants and Windows 10 Home edition "guinea pigs," it also is seeking early feedback from IT professionals. Last week, Microsoft instigated a Windows Insider Program for IT Professionals. It's apparently at the early sign-up stage right now, but Microsoft is promising IT pros that with this program "in the coming months, we'll be adding additional features to the existing Windows Insider Program to better support you in your job."
Another resource recently rolled out by Microsoft for IT pros is a new "Windows IT Pro Insider" newsletter, as described in this blog post. IT pros can sign up to get a monthly list of "all the new resources available to help you plan for Windows 10, simplify deployment, and more easily secure and manage your Windows 10 environment," Microsoft promised.
For IT pros concerned with patch management issues, Microsoft said back in January that it planned to replace its Security Bulletins portal with a new Security Updates Guide portal. The changeover to this new portal, previously at the preview stage, is apparently now in effect. It dispenses with Microsoft's long-established numbering scheme for vulnerabilities and Knowledge Base articles. Microsoft's February bulletins are expected to show up on March 14, the next patch Tuesday, following a rare patch delay.
IT pros concerned with Windows 10 deployment can get recent information from Michael Niehaus, a senior product marketing manager at Microsoft and noted Windows deployment expert. His two recent Ignite Australia 2017 talks are currently available on demand at this page. There are also some Tech Summit videos available here on topics such as Windows 10 deployment and its service model.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.