Windows 10 Home and Pro: automatic updates could become mandatory

Martin Brinkmann
May 15, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

If you run a preview build of Windows 10 on a computer currently you may have noticed that it is not possible to modify the operating system's update behavior. The only option you have besides automatic updates is "notify to schedule restart".

Automatic updates download and install important updates automatically without user interaction. The only difference that "notify to schedule restart" offers is that this preferences prompts you to restart the system to finish installing updates.

The available settings make sense for a preview release that is designed to test new builds and features of those build but would limit user choice if kept in the final version.

Microsoft has not revealed information about the operating system's update functionality yet apart from letting slip that servicing branches would be used in Windows 10.

Mary Jo Foley over on Zdnet pieced together information revealed by Microsoft partners and her industry contacts.

windows 10 updates

The three servicing branches that Microsoft plans to launch with Windows 10 are: Current Branch, Current Branch for Business and Long Term Servicing Branch.

The Windows 10 edition that is installed on a device determines which branches are available:

  1. Windows 10 Home: access to the Current Branch only.
  2. Windows 10 Pro: access to Current Branch and Current Branch for Business.
  3. Windows 10 Enterprise: access to Current Branch, Current Branch for Business and Long Term Servicing Branch.

Current Branch

According to Mary Jo's information, feature updates, fixes and security updates will be installed automatically on Windows 10 Home systems. Users of those systems won't have any option to delay or defer updates.

Current Branch for Business

Windows 10 Pro users can select the Current Branch for Business servicing branch instead which adds some flexibility in regards to updates.

Users and administrators can select when and how they receive updates. Options are via Windows Update, Windows Update for Business or Windows Server Update Services.

Mary Jo notes that one of her contacts told here that feature updates can only be deferred for a limited period of time but not indefinitely. How Microsoft plans to handle that is not clear but Mary Jo believes that it will limit security patches to the latest version of Windows and maybe one or two previous versions (without feature updates) so that these feature updates need to be installed to make sure the system remains safe.

Long Term Servicing Branch

Enterprise devices support all three servicing branches. The Long Term Servicing Branch, unique to Enterprise devices, allows users to only install security updates and defer any new features.

Closing Words

I put this under rumors for now but if they are true, both Windows 10 desktop consumer editions won't give users control over the update process anymore.

While some may say that this is a good thing, as it ensures that user systems are patched, one should not forget that this includes all important updates that Microsoft pushes out.

In addition to that, the quality of updates has noticeably suffered in recent time. Patch days are filled with user complaints about updates that won't install or break functionality.

Users do have control over the Windows Update service however. If disabled, updates won't be installed on devices running Windows 10 which should give users time to test updates or wait for update reports before they apply them on their systems.

Now You: Do you think Microsoft will go ahead with this?

Windows 10 Home: automatic updates could become mandatory
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Windows 10 Home: automatic updates could become mandatory
Microsoft may limit the updating functionality of its upcoming Windows 10 operating system by making updates mandatory for consumer editions.
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  1. InterestedBystander said on May 18, 2015 at 5:01 am

    I use Windows at work, and it’s a large account, so their IT will be under the “protected from updates” umbrella. I do have a Win 7 partition at home, though, and if I had ever considered taking MS up on their upgrade-to-Win 10 offer, this nixes it.

    Like many posters, however, I suspect MS will back off.

    For those still using XP, I’d really recommend putting Linux Mint Cinnamon, Salix XFCE, or Zorin on a machine just for convenience. It’s gotten really easy to install those distributions. And if you’re familiar with the XP or Win 7 desktop, with a start button at lower left and a taskbar at the bottom, then you’ll adapt quickly to these operating systems. In my opinion, anyway.

    Over the years MS has produced some great things (and some pratfalls), but I feel the company is rudderless and wallowing of late.

  2. Tek said on May 17, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Feel free to correct me if I am wrong but I thought PC is an abbreviation for PERSONAL Computer. It seems the personal aspect has been slowly eroded with each new release of Windows. The problem is not so much what we do with our computers but the ever increasing underhanded insistence that we need to be monitored via the software that we use.
    All software avenues appear to be wanting more and more feedback which while I understand a certain amount of need for this, a lot of control is being removed from the end user, making what should be a pleasant experience increasingly intrusive. Of course the Internet is the biggest culprit in all of this as the culture of updating software has been embedded into our minds.

    Sure, quite a few updates that escape can have a negative effect on the operating system but it isn’t just Microsoft products that cause this. I’ve always been of the mind that all computer users are just beta testers as no product that gets released is devoid of bugs but then again software isn’t perfect and it seems that this situation is getting worse as technology advances. I wonder if those who do the programming, fully understand how to manipulate the latest code, technology etc. properly.
    I write software on a smaller scale and I know it isn’t perfect as a continual learning curve is required to keep on top of things.

  3. ozone333 said on May 17, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Well.. I guess I’m staying with Windows 7 much longer than planned if Windows 10 forces me to take their updates whenever they choose. I use my main PC mostly for business purposes and everyone who uses Windows knows that every once in a while Windows Update breaks the computer causing havoc and reliability issues. It’s imperative that I have control over what and when Windows Updates so I can go back if one of the updates kills my PC.

  4. Alex said on May 16, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Well, that’s really really bad. I was on Chrome Canary from the very beginning, and after updates some things stopped working completely. That’s very irritating even considering i willfully was testing early releases.
    Windows 8 and 8.1, not being Nightly version of Windows, had updates that also broke things. That happened not as rare as i’d like, that’s why i always waited for news or reports before updating and always read update notes on When Chrome stop working is one thing, not so big deal, i have another browser it’s okay, and when OS stops working it’s usually a disaster.
    Microsoft can’t provide updates that working on every configuration, nobody can. There’s nothing ideal and no one ideal and there’s always will be bugs in software.
    Enabling of mandatory autoupdates is just wrong thing.

  5. Anonymous said on May 16, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    I remember some Apple IOS update wiping external HDDs by Western Digital …, I foresee this applying to Microsoft in the future, too.
    Microbrains update strategy will make certain I won’t buy into 10.

    Too bad most Linux Distros follow a similar path with outdated or nonexistent wine, would be nice to be finally rid of redmonds software.

  6. clas said on May 16, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    i agree with most posters. and i have always waited at least a month before installing any updates. i read the reviews on them and hear the horror stories. then when they get them squared away, i install and then not all of them as so many are a waste on both my win7 systems. for me, win7 is smooth and easy. same with firefox. i use an old version and its great, never a problem. there are other ways to protect your “stuff” than always having the latest updates. manditory updates only cater to the lowest common denominators of the computing society. great topic, martin!

  7. kalmly said on May 16, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Dumber and dumber. Dumb down the OS. Take total control of user’s systems. Take away all options.


  8. Wybo said on May 16, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I certainly would not like to have all updates shoved down my OS!.

    Currently I have set 8.1 only to automatically check for updates. I only install important updates after vetting them. I don’t install the rest and have unticked the box for other Windows services updates as I don’t use them.
    Even with important updates there are some that are crap. KB3035583 is a good example of that. Nagware for 10.

    1. Nebulus said on May 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Probably Microsoft doesn’t want you to be able to avoid installing a nagware patch for their next operating system.

  9. insanelyapple said on May 16, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I still hope that lack of options in Windows Update settings page is a result of test progress of upcoming OS. Lack of choice for users is the worst thing they can roll with – and not just because of that shitty corporate approach to limiting and dumbing software in the name of “we know what’s better for you, we don’t care about your opinion at all” but also because in the past Windows patches caused unrecoverable crashes.

  10. Dwight Stegall said on May 16, 2015 at 2:35 am

    They already are mandatory. I wouldn’t mind but they have screwed up several updates this year. A couple of them nearly bricked several people’s computers.

    1. Nebulus said on May 16, 2015 at 10:34 am

      No, they are not mandatory. You can select to “Never check for updates” and you don’t receive any.

  11. Rott Weiller said on May 16, 2015 at 2:10 am

    how to break a nice OS:
    – implement mandatory stuff
    – put software that destroys hardware ( hdd put on sleep 4 … forever )
    – force people buy stuff ( win 8 – touch for full OS control // win 10 – SSDs – see PUIS/PM2 issues )
    + a lot more

    how to break a nice browser:
    -change layout to something ugly (firefox)
    -keep memory issues forever unresolved ( firefox )
    -block extensions outside the store ( chrome)
    -prevent pages load ( firefox non https plan )
    -change default icon (i loved the “3d” chrome icon –
    + more others

    already switched to Pale Moon, last night i`ve installed Opera as an alternative to Chrome extension process

    1. clas said on May 16, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Rott W….thanks for tweaking my brain. i am giving palemoon another shot. so far it is really good…peppy for sure and migrated all my ff settings and bookmarks easy as pie. thanks again….clas

  12. Dave said on May 15, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    I thought Windows 8 had mandatory updates. Shows how much I know :/

  13. dancer said on May 15, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    If you think that Microsoft should give home users and certain small business full control over how updates to Windows 10 should be installed, and or If you really want to have full control over how you update your future Windows 10 desktops or laptops and your existing Windows machines upgrades, please give my suggestion about having full control over Windows updates for home users at least 3 votes by clicking on the following link below. If you would like to add anything to my suggestion regarding about having full control over Windows updates for home users, you can post the comment on that suggestion page.

  14. Jeff said on May 15, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I thought MS’ whole deal with Windows 10 was more of a return to the roots, and respecting power users? This (if true) is very disrepectful of power users.

    Honestly, I don’t care if critical security updates are forced, I install those anyway (it is stupid not to), but the rest of it better be optional.

  15. Akshay said on May 15, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    It should not be mandatory, it should ask the user. The updates should be in control of the user.

  16. Pete said on May 15, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    FU MS. Absolute deal breaker. Give it away free, or even try to pay me to use it.. no, I won’t if I can’t control updates. Byebye MS.

  17. Oxa said on May 15, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Microsoft has been caught with egg on its face a couple of times in the past few years when its updates royally messed up some people’s computers, so this seems like a very bad idea to me. If they implement this, I’ll definitely stop the Windows update service and wait a while before intalling to determine if the update functions OK.

    1. jelson said on May 17, 2015 at 1:05 am

      Perhaps THAT’s why they are planning this. Currently you KNOW when an update is responsible for problems. And its seems that problematic updates have become fairly common as of late.

  18. TinCan said on May 15, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    I don’t use XP any more for hardware comparability reasons, but despite other peoples ravings it’s still a fine and dandy OS. The biggest thing people tend to toss in your face all the time is it not having great MS “Security” and yet with $0-50 worth of 3rd party Security software it can be made far more secure than a fully updated Windows 8.1 system with no 3rd party security. Fact of the matter is MS only security is usually pretty bad no matter how up-to-date it is.

    Which is one of the major reasons I think Windows 10 is going to be another Windows 8. They are making it nicer for people who liked Windows 8 but had some grips, but they are making it even more unpleasant for many of the people who are holding onto Windows <7 because they don't like Windows 8. (Sans the whole start menu thing, but that was really just over hyped anyway.) Windows 10 may be MS super ploy to force people into their "modern vision" but frankly I'm hoping it falls flat and Windows 7/XP remain the top market OS until they are forced to rethink their current "vision".

    And yes I have been using Windows 8 for a long while along with Windows 10 daily since the insider preview started, and every single day I am ecstatic to return to the vastly superior flexibility of my Windows 7 system. It's not a matter of being stuck in the past and not wanting to learn "new things" it's a matter of wanting to use productive tools rather than clunky ones.

  19. JohnMWhite said on May 15, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I really like Windows 10 and have been enthusiastic about it coming down the pipe, despite having had serious issues with Windows 8. This, however, would be an absolute deal-breaker. On a point of principle I will not have software forcibly installed on my machine – that is malware, no matter what the source. And in terms of practicality, we all know an update will appear that breaks something.

    I hope the rumours are not true, but they would not surprise me. It appears to be part of corporate culture now, to fritter away any good will they have accrued through a decent product by coming up with an absolutely disastrous policy.

    1. VegasDon said on August 8, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      I agree full hearted with JohnMWhites correct view. Any software that is forceds is the fill equal of malware. Mty needs and desires as a money paying customer is always suborned to companies needs to cut labor, make me punch buttons and wait to punch more to wait to be transferred to another country… Just the idea that they have some right to “deign” to force me to accept something, beneficial or not, is offensive. This is MY machine and not an ethereal extension of theirs.

      I do not like Win 8, the “pains” that assist them in our interactions. I do very much like the Win 10, void certain aspects, but then nothing in the world is 100% in any respect. However, this force feeding with the view that they must somehow know more than little old me, is a bit dry and old. Just my view. That and a quarter’ll getcha 5 nickels. : )


    2. Guest said on May 15, 2015 at 7:23 pm


      Thank you, exactly. I’m sitting on Windows 8.0 completely unpatched (not one single update) and it will stay that way until I decide to move on. Sure my security is somewhat lessened, but I was using Windows XP until late 2012, so I’ve learned various ways to increase security.

      One thing for instance – always make your security ‘different’ from the crowd. If everyone is using WindowsDefender, disable yours, and install a dedicated antivirus. Hardly anyone installs a HIPS, so obviously I’ve gone and installed one. I’ve beefed up browser security considerably too.

      If I update Windows 8.0 at all, who’s to say it won’t break? I’d rather not take that chance, and it works perfectly fine for me as-is (except for being incompatible with Tera Online EU which pisses me off, but guess we can’t have everything)

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on May 15, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      I agree, this is a deal breaker for me as well.

      1. PhoneyVirus said on May 20, 2015 at 12:15 am

        You have to think about it this way, you may work for your money but you don’t really own. It belongs to the Government not you and the same can be applied to Windows Operating systems. Plus its a services so get use to it, its the Brave New World were about to face and future users will come to enjoy, All and all who cares right! its the future bring it on.

      2. Anonymous said on May 15, 2015 at 7:54 pm

        Deal breaker for me as well, but the good news is that things like these generally tend to never get implemented. It ususally goes like this:

        Microsoft announces some unacceptable thing is coming to the next version of Windows.
        Everyone on every tech blog freaks out and says they won’t upgrade.
        Microsoft stands strong…
        …for a month or so. Then backs down.

        All in all, i’d be surprised if this actually went down.

  20. Tommy said on May 15, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Macrohard keeps rolling the dice with customers and fate don’t they, so things go ok for a few months with auto updates then one day you have all the early users of 10 nuked, thank goodness i am still on XP yeah i know. If customers need updates what’s wrong with a short nag in your UI after 4 or 5 days!

  21. Nebulus said on May 15, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    They might go ahead, at least until the first mandatory update that will botch Windows 10 for all users (or at least for a significant number of users). Afterwards, they will probably reconsider.

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