How to delay feature updates in Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 27, 2018
Updated • Sep 27, 2018
Windows, Windows 10

The next feature update is just around the corner; Microsoft's twice-a-year schedule for releasing feature updates means that the next upgrade is at the most just six months away.

Microsoft switched to a new servicing model that it calls Windows-as-a-Service when it released Windows 10. Out with the old and in with the new is a proper description of Windows-as-a-Service as Microsoft won't support any one version of the operating system for long periods anymore.

Microsoft's previous operating systems, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 were both supported for ten years. Windows 10 versions are only supported for 18 months on the consumer side and up to 30 months on the Enterprise and Education side. The only exception to the rule is the LTSB (Long Term Servicing Branch) edition of Windows 10 for Enterprise customers which is supported for a longer period.

All versions of Windows 10 include options to delay the installation of feature updates. One has to distinguish between professional and "home" versions of Windows 10 though.

Microsoft added options to the user interface of Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, Education and other professional versions of Windows 10 but not to Windows 10 Home.

The following guide describes how you can delay feature updates in every edition of Windows 10.

A short explanation of terms:

  • Feature Updates -- Upgrades that install a new version of the operating system, e.g. version 1809 on a system with version 1803 installed.
  • Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) and Semi-Annual Channel -- The core difference between the two is that systems set to Semi-Annual Channel will receive feature updates months after general availability. It is usually a 2 month period and Microsoft refers to this as being ready for wider organizational use.

Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, Education

All editions of Windows 10 designed for professional use include two user interface options to delay feature updates. Administrators may use the Group Policy Editor or the Settings application to postpone the installation of feature updates.

The Settings app

delay feature updates windows 10

The following instructions walk you through the steps of delaying feature updates using the Settings app.

  1. Start by opening the Settings app using the Shortcut Ctrl-I. You may also click on Start and select Settings from there if you prefer to use the mouse or touch for that.
  2. Go to Update & Security and select Advanced Options on the page that opens.

The page displays three options to pause or defer updates:

  • Pause Updates -- if you select that option, updates are paused for up to 35 days. Updates need to be installed after the period before you may select pause updates again.
  • Branch Readiness Level -- switch the branch readiness level from the default "Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) to "Semi-Annual Channel". The option delays the installation of feature updates until Microsoft deems the update ready for organizational use (usually a 2-month period).
  • Defer feature updates -- Defer a feature update by up to 365 days

The provided options support the blocking of feature updates for up to a year. The "defer feature updates" option gives you full control over the delay; you could set it to 90 or 180 days counting from the day of release.

Group Policy

feature updates group policy

The Group Policy Editor offers similar options. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Activate the Start button.
  2. Type gpedit.msc and select the result.
  3. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business
  4. Double-click on "Select when Preview Builds and Feature Updates are received".
  5. Set the policy to enabled.

The following options are provided:

  • Select the Windows readiness level -- Note that you find preview build options here as well. You can switch to "Semi-Annual Channel" here to defer feature updates; this works identical to setting the Branch Readiness Level in the Settings app.
  • Defer receiving feature updates -- Use this option to defer feature updates by up to 365.
  • Pause Feature Updates -- The option pauses the installation of Feature Updates by up to 35 days.

All Windows 10 editions (including Windows 10 Home)

windows 10 home delay

Windows 10 Home administrators can't delay updates in the Settings app or using the Group Policy as both options are not available in Home editions.

Feature updates may be delayed in the Windows Registry as well and that option is available in all editions of the operating system.

  1. Activate the Start menu.
  2. Type regedit.exe and select the Registry Editor result.
  3. Confirm the UAC prompt.
  4. Go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX\Settings
    • Note: if any of the keys is missing right-click on the previous one, e.g. WindowsUpdate, and select New > Key to create it.
  5. The Dword BranchReadinessLevel determines if the system's level is set to Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) or Semi-Annual Channel. Set it to 10 for the former and 20 for the latter.
    • Note: if the Dword does not exist right-click on Settings and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  6. The Dword DeferFeatureUpdatesPeriodInDays delays the installation of feature updates by the selected number of days.
    • Again, if the Dword does not exist create it using the method described above.

Another option that is available on all Windows 10 editions is to set the connection to metered.

metered connection

  1. Open Settings > Network and Internet > Ethernet
  2. Click on any Network connection there one after the other.
  3. On the screen that opens, toggle "Set as metered connection" so that it reads on.
  4. Repeat this for Wi-Fi connections so that all network connections that the PC may make are set to metered.

Feature updates are not downloaded when the PC is connected to a metered connection.

Closing Words

All options may be used to delay the installation of feature updates on a machine running Windows 10. The past has shown, however, that feature updates may get installed anyway even if you set the system to defer them.

Microsoft has upgraded systems forcibly to newer versions even if the PCs were set to defer upgrades to new versions of the operating system.

In any case, it is recommended that you create regular backups of the system so that you may roll back to a previous version when that happens.

Now You: When do you install new feature updates for Windows 10?

How to delay feature updates in Windows 10
Article Name
How to delay feature updates in Windows 10
Find out how to delay feature updates to new versions of the Windows 10 operating system in all editions of Windows 10.
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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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