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Windows 10 Version 1903 Coming To More Users

A couple of Twitter posts by Microsoft this week highlighted the impending arrival of Windows 10 version 1903 for various user groups.

Windows 10 Version 1903, also known as the "May 2019 Update," was first commercially released by Microsoft on May 21, 2019. For organizations managing Windows 10 feature updates, it's a so-called "semiannual channel" (SAC) release. An SAC release is a new operating system. SACs arrive twice per year in a spring/fall release cycle, and they will replace the underlying bits of existing Windows 10 OS installations.

Only organizations using management tools can defer SAC releases for any lengthy amounts of time. Consumer users of Windows 10 are deemed "guinea pig" users by Microsoft, and have little ability to defer feature updates, which get delivered via the Windows Update service.

Windows 10 Version 1803 Home and Pro Users
On Tuesday, Microsoft stated in a Windows Update Twitter post that users of the Windows 10 "April 2018 Update" (also known as Windows 10 version 1803) will be getting the latest feature update soon:

We are initiating the Windows 10 May 2019 Update [version 1903] for customers with devices running the April 2018 Update that will reach the end of 18 months of service on November 12, 2019. More details here.

This shift will be happening for Home and Pro users of Windows 10 version 1803, Microsoft clarified in that linked document. They're being compelled to upgrade before end of that OS' service lifecycle because so many are still using version 1803. Here's how Microsoft explained it in the linked document:

Based on the large number of devices running the April 2018 Update, that will reach the end of 18 months of service on November 12, 2019, we are starting the update process now for Home and Pro editions to help ensure adequate time for a smooth update process.

Microsoft still uses its "telemetry" information, which gets reported back to Microsoft from various Windows 10 systems, to hold back new feature updates when incompatibilities get detected. For instance, updates will get blocked because of "known issues," such as the ones listed in Microsoft's document.

Windows 10 version 1803 Home and Pro users will have the option to pause the coming Windows 10 version 1903 update for "up to 35 days," Microsoft's document clarified, but it's coming. See this Redmondmag.com article by Brien Posey for the nuances in pausing updates.

Windows 10 Version 1809 for WUB Users
Also this week, Microsoft issued a cryptic Twitter post for organizations using Windows 10 version 1809, the "October 2018 Update," along with Windows Update for Business (WUB) to manage feature updates. WUB is a bunch of technologies enabling the use of Group Policy settings for the management of Windows 10 feature updates.

Essentially Microsoft is warning in its Twitter post that Windows 10 version 1903 will be coming soon for these WUB users, perhaps as early as next week, especially if no deferrals are in place. The Twitter post pointed to a July 15 update to a Feb. 14, 2019 article by John Wilcox, a Windows-as-a-service evangelist at Microsoft, about the retirement of the "semiannual channel (targeted)" (SAC-T) Windows 10 designation.

Here's the updated portion of that article:

Update 7/15/2019: As a reminder to customers on Windows 10, version 1809 using Windows Update for Business with a Branch Readiness Level set to Semi-Annual Channel and a default 0-day deferral, your 60-day one-time built-in deferral period will end on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 and your devices will begin updating to Windows 10, version 1903.

The statement is pretty ambiguous, and it's not clear what Wilcox means by the "60-day one-time built-in deferral period." Here's a best guess on the meaning.

Microsoft earlier got rid of its SAC-T designation, arguing that it was just an arbitrary deployment signal for WUB users anyway. When that was done, WUB users were then supposed to plan for SAC feature update releases.

It turned out that Windows 10 version 1809 was a troubled release. It was first released to consumer users on Oct. 2, 2018. Microsoft later pulled it because of data loss issues for some of its users and then rereleased the OS on Nov. 13, 2018, when it was designated as an SAC-T release. Later, on March 28, 2019, the October 2018 Update was designated as an SAC release, according to Microsoft's Windows 10 release information history. Windows 10 version 1809 actually won't fall out of support until May 2020 or 2021, depending on the edition used, according to that history.

However, apparently WUB users with no deferrals in place will get SAC releases 60 days after a new Windows 10 feature update first gets released. In the case of Windows 10 version 1903, it was first released on May 21, 2019. And so without deferrals set, WUB users of version Windows 10 version 1809 would get Windows 10 version 1903 on July 23, 2019 (about 60 days later).

That seems to be the gist of Microsoft's update announcement, although the popular saying is that "one can't make sense of crazy." In any case, Windows 10 version 1903 will be coming for WUB users. According to this document, WUB users can defer new feature updates for a maximum of 365 days, if they have the policy settings in place.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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