Microsoft finally reveals missing information about updates in Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 28, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Updates released for Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system are different in several regards. While most home users still get them through Windows Update, several key aspects of updates have changed in Windows 10.

You may have read about feature updates, Windows 10 servicing, deferred updates or the different servicing branches that Microsoft created for Windows 10 but since Microsoft did not reveal too much about them, it was not really clear how they'd affect administrative tasks in Windows environments.

The new Introduction to Windows 10 servicing document on Technet reveals missing information about updates. Designed specifically for Enterprises, it is providing home users and businesses with vital information about Windows 10 servicing and updates.

windows servicing options

The article that Microsoft published is highly technical and a long read. The following paragraphs provide you with a summary of core information revealed in the article.

Microsoft distinguishes between two types of updates in Windows 10:

  1. Servicing updates which are important updates such as security or stability fixes.
  2. Feature upgrades that deliver new features to devices running Windows 10.

Feature upgrades, note that Microsoft calls them upgrades and not updates, always contain an entire copy of Windows so that they can be used to install Windows on existing devices. It is like Windows 10.1, 10.2 and so without these releases being named that way.

Microsoft plans to release between two and three feature upgrades per year and to publish accompanying servicing updates for supported feature upgrades.

Servicing updates will continue to be delivered on Patch Tuesday primarily (second Tuesday of a month) but may also be pushed out at other times when the need arises. This is exactly the same as it is done today for all supported Microsoft operating systems.

One difference here, as you may have noticed already, is that these patches will only be delivered to systems running supported feature upgrades.

This in turn means that Home users who run Windows 10 on machines won't be able to block feature upgrades for a long period of time as they won't receive servicing updates anymore.

Microsoft distinguishes between two branches relevant for Home and Business environments. The Current Branch receives feature upgrades immediately and the servicing lifetime of each feature upgrade is a minimum of four months.

This seems to confirm that these feature upgrades need to be installed in that time period for the system to continue receiving security updates.

The Current Branch for Business delays the availability of feature upgrades for four months and extends the minimum length of the servicing lifetime to eight months.

Another interesting difference between updates for Windows 10 and previous Windows operating systems is the cumulative nature of Windows 10 releases.

It is important to note that, in order to improve release quality and simplify deployments, all new releases that Microsoft publishes for Windows 10 will be cumulative. This means new feature upgrades and servicing updates will contain the payloads of all previous releases (in an optimized form to reduce storage and networking requirements), and installing the release on a device will bring it completely up to date.

Microsoft notes that it is no longer possible to "install a subset of the contents of a Windows 10 servicing update".

The remainder of the article reveals how Microsoft releases Windows 10 feature upgrades.

When a new feature upgrade gets released, it is made available to Current Branch systems right away. What then follows is several months of servicing updates followed by the release of the feature upgrade plus all servicing upgrades to Current Branch for Business systems.

The actual frequency and timing of releases will vary according to Microsoft.

Although Microsoft is currently planning to release approximately two to three feature upgrades per year, the actual frequency and timing of releases will vary. Because the servicing lifetimes of feature upgrades typically end when the servicing lifetimes of other, subsequent feature upgrades begin, the lengths of servicing lifetimes will also vary.

Now You: What do you make of this? Good move or bad?

Microsoft finally reveals missing information about updates in Windows 10
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Microsoft finally reveals missing information about updates in Windows 10
Microsoft revealed additional information about servicing updates and feature upgrades in its Windows 10 operating system.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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