Microsoft will enforce Windows 10 upgrades when support end nears

Martin Brinkmann
May 23, 2019
Windows, Windows 10

The Windows 10 upgrade process changed significantly in 2019. Previously, Windows 10 feature updates would be pushed via Windows Update to compatible systems shortly after release and official options to block these were limited to Pro and Enterprise editions of the operating system.

The release of Windows 10 May 2019 Update changes the process in several ways. Microsoft won't push feature updates to Windows 10 devices anymore automatically. The company will display notifications on compatible systems that inform the user or admin that a new feature update is available, but it won't be installed anymore automatically.

Administrators need to select the feature update explicitly so that it gets installed. The change goes hand in hand with a modification of the Windows Updates interface that separates regular updates and feature updates from one another.

Feature updates won't be enforced anymore going forward when they are released, and that is true for the two recent feature updates Windows 10 version 1803 and 1809 released prior to the May 2019 Update.

The change does not mark the end of enforced feature updates though. Microsoft will push feature updates to Windows 10 devices when the currently installed version of Windows is about to exit the support period.

Windows 10 version 1803, the April 2018 Update, will be the first version with enforced feature upgrades. Microsoft revealed that it will start to push updates to devices running the April 2018 Update in June 2019.

feature update to windows 10 version 1903

Windows 10 version 1803 reaches end of support in November 2019 for non-Enterprise customers. Enterprise support ends in November 2020 as Enterprise and Education editions get 30 months of support instead of the 18 months of support that Home editions get.

Starting this June, we will begin updating devices running the April 2018 Update, and earlier versions of Windows 10, to ensure we can continue to service these devices and provide the latest updates, security updates and improvements. We are starting this machine learning (ML)-based rollout process several months in advance of the end of service date to provide adequate time for a smooth update process.

Microsoft did not reveal the upgrade target version but it is likely that devices will get updated to the most recent version of Windows 10 which in this case is Windows 10 version 1903.

It is unclear if certain Windows settings will block the automatic update download and installation, or if the enforcement overrides all of them. For instance, will the update be downloaded if you set up all available network connections as metered?

Third-party Windows update blocking solutions like Windows 10 Update Switch or Stop Updates 10 should still work though.

Why is Microsoft making the change?

Unsupported systems don't receive security updates or any other updates anymore; the lack of security updates leaves them open for potential exploits and attacks targeting these vulnerabilities.

For Windows 10 devices that are at, or within several months of reaching, end of service, Windows Update will automatically initiate a feature update; keeping those devices supported and receiving the monthly updates that are critical to device security and ecosystem health.

Some admins may argue that it should be their decision whether to upgrade or not; Microsoft believes that it is the company's responsibility to provide updates to systems that will run out of support or are not supported anymore.

Now You: What is your take on the decision? (via Born)

Microsoft will enforce Windows 10 upgrades when support end nears
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Microsoft will enforce Windows 10 upgrades when support end nears
Microsoft revealed in May 2019 that it will upgrade versions of Windows 10 that will run out of support soon automatically.
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  1. Mike Smith said on December 20, 2019 at 5:43 am

    Just release an os that doesn’t get superceded by another version. Keep doing maintenance/ security releases for it. It’s an operating system, who cares about bells and whistles?

  2. Alanf said on May 25, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Interesting that they plan to “force” an upgrade from 1803. They haven’t even offered me one!

    Since 1803 was installed in 22 May 2018 on my Win 10 Home version, I have had some 40+ updates, 30+ of these after the notional release of 1809.

    No message to tell me that my box is incompatible, nothing.

    Will I be stuck in limbo, or will 1903 be the “forced” update?

  3. Steven Fleckenstein said on May 25, 2019 at 4:02 am

    This will be interesting since my old quad core tower is stuck on 1803 and every time I tried to install 1809 it failed with some non descript suggestion to remove any USB devices and maybe a driver is missing. I also saw this same type failure happen to a friend with an older tower.

  4. ULBoom said on May 24, 2019 at 1:22 am

    Wouldn’t bother me a bit if updates weren’t one disaster after another and Windows was just an OS without all the baby apps, advertising and data selling. And now that chromedgium mess.

    As is, I’m sticking with 1803 and Pro. Updates come from the Update Catalog, installed offline.

    Kinda sad but beyond Windows, we use exactly zero MS software. Ten years ago, most of our software was by MS.

  5. Ken said on May 24, 2019 at 12:12 am

    How many recent updates had to be rolled back because of a lack of proper QA on Microsoft’s part?
    How many bricked PCs are there out there because of Windows 10 “Upgrades”?

    Let me decide.

  6. Anonymous said on May 23, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    This is outrageous!

    1803 was supposed to be supported until November 2019, but now it is June 2019.
    Microsoft needs to get to work updating their End-of-Life documentation.

    They also need to update their documentation about the Windows Update Advanced Options settings, where in Windows 10 Pro you can defer updates up to 365 days.
    Now, apparently it is much less than 365 days.
    This deferral period always seemed vague to me. When does the deferral period start?

    If Microsoft is going to force updates, it should be to the oldest supported release, and the update shouldn’t be forced more than 1 month before support ends for the currently installed release.
    I run the oldest supported release of Windows 10 Pro. I update about a month before support ends.

  7. Richard Steven Hack said on May 23, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    This sort of thing is what you can refer to as a “random Microsoft program manager decision.” I use the word “random” advisedly. In other words, it’s just a change being made because some Microsoft program manager got the notion it would be a good idea.

    This is how things are done in the software industry. Nothing is thought through, and decisions are made based on how someone “feels” about something, or the random output of a meeting some people held because…”meeting”.

    Nothing about this process can be considered “engineering” in any real sense.

    1. John Fenderson said on May 23, 2019 at 11:23 pm

      @Richard Steven Hack: “This is how things are done in the software industry.”

      You can’t broad-brush the entire industry like that. Yes, that’s how it works in some companies, but I’ve been in the industry for a very long time, and I can honestly say that the vast majority of companies I’ve worked for put a lot of thought into every change that is proposed.

      That’s not to say that every decision is the right one, of course, but they haven’t been made casually for the most part.

  8. chesscanoe said on May 23, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    I understand Windows users want to use our old hardware and software forever if it still works as we expect it to. If online however. this exposes other online users worldwide to potential risk, and makes for an expensive administrative nightmare for Microsoft to maintain without error, even if it were a possible objective.

    1. John Fenderson said on May 23, 2019 at 7:56 pm


      I don’t think that the “contagion theory” of computer security has that much validity to it.

  9. Dave said on May 23, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I can see both sides of this.

    On the one hand, most “users” aren’t qualified to “Administrate” their own PC’s and M$ has to do what needs to be done to keep those systems as safe as they possibly can.

    On the other hand, some people are qualified and should be able to choose how they want their own pc’s setup.

  10. John Fenderson said on May 23, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    I have to give credit to Google. This is a good first step. Let’s hope they continue on to the next steps, leading to an end to forced updates altogether.

    I might even be able to mostly ignore Google’s inability to avoid throwing in popular but meaningless marketing buzzwords here: ‘We are starting this machine learning (ML)-based rollout process”.

    1. John Fenderson said on May 23, 2019 at 7:54 pm

      Heh. I said “Google” but meant “Microsoft”. A natural mistake.

  11. TelV said on May 23, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    I wonder how many Windows 7/8.1 users regret taking the decision to upgrade in the light of the fact that support will cease for Windows 10 version 1803 when it reaches end of support in November 2019.

    Windows 8.1 at least still qualifies for security updates until January 1, 2023.

  12. jan said on May 23, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    In the article you pose the question: Why is Microsoft making the change?

    A correct answer from ghacks would be: WE DO NOT KNOW!
    Please do not write meaningless info and give the impression that you know; you simply dont

    1. pioruns said on May 24, 2019 at 12:20 am

      Windows days are counted. Linux, we welcome you! End this tyranny for us, blind sheep customers of Microsoft.

  13. GetReal said on May 23, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Well! This article hides the fact that several group polices (registry settings) may prevent forced updates/upgrades. Administrators (users) of systems where those settings are applied can manually upgrade on their sole discretion. Of course, this is not new and those settings have been around since Windows XP.

    1. Rush said on May 23, 2019 at 5:24 pm


      Maybe applicable for Pro or Enterprise systems, probably not for home though…

      1. GetReal said on May 24, 2019 at 1:26 am

        Rush, Works for Home as well.

    2. Dave said on May 23, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      These “Settings” are now classified as “problems” that M$ will automatically “repair” for you.

  14. Jeff said on May 23, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Forcing any updates was never ok with me. If I have set up a PC in a certain way, I expect all software on it to be in the state it is when I installed it and update only if I permit on a case by case basis. Anything that downloads and installs automatically is malware. Thankfully I use LTSB with all updates disabled and update Windows if I feel like a certain update is absolutely required, which is hardly ever.

  15. John Doe 101 said on May 23, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    P.S.: Always install Win 10 Upgrades with Windows Upgrade Asisstent, looki here:

  16. John Doe 101 said on May 23, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Windows Mini Update Tool still working on new Build to set automatic Updates to disabled.

    Version from 20.12.2016, still working flawlessly.

    Win 10 Pro: Buildversion is 18362.116

    1. Yuliya said on May 23, 2019 at 10:12 pm

      GPEdit does not work in consumer editions anymore?

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