Windows 10 1903: the case of the missing update deferral options

Martin Brinkmann
May 28, 2019
Windows, Windows 10

Windows 10 machines that have received the Windows 10 version 1903 feature update, the May 2019 Update, may lack update deferral options in the Settings application.

Windows 10 administrators may defer feature updates to block their installation on devices that they manage. Microsoft changed the existing update behavior significantly with the release of Windows 10 version 1903; feature updates are not installed automatically anymore when they become available.

Feature updates are separated from regular monthly updates. The latter get installed just like they did before but feature updates are highlighted to users but not installed. The updates will be installed eventually if the admin does not take action but only when the currently installed version is about to reach end of support.

Admins had to defer updates previously to block the installation of feature updates on managed Windows 10 devices. Microsoft added new update options to Windows 10 version 1903 as well.

I ran a story in March 2019 that covered the removal of deferral options in Windows 10 version 1903. The information was based on an Insider Build. Now, with the final release of Windows 10 version 1903, it is time to take another look.

Bad news is that the situation is not clear entirely. When I open Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options on a Windows 10 version 1903 test system, I don't see feature update or quality update deferral options listed.

windows 10 903 no update deferral

The only available option is to pause the update for up to 7 days on that page.  Administrators could use the options previously to defer feature updates by up to 365 days.

Some users report that they still have these options in the Settings application, see Günter Born's analysis of the issue. Born comes to the same conclusion: some systems display the deferral options in Settings, others don't. He was not able to figure out why that is the case and concluded that it is likely a bug that Microsoft has not addressed yet.

It is unclear if Microsoft's intention is to remove the deferral options from the Settings or if the company never had the intention to do so. Is the lack of deferral options the bug, or the presence of them?

Could other factors play a role? Maybe. Certain Enterprise-features could impact the visibility of the feature but nothing has been confirmed and tests are not conclusive.

Group Policy

windows 10 group policy deferral

Deferral options are still available in the Group Policy. Tap on the Windows-key, type gpedit.msc, and hit the Enter-key to launch the Group Policy Editor (professional versions only).

Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business.

There you find "Select when Preview Builds and Feature Updates are received" and "Select when Quality Updates are received".

Closing Words

It is still possible to use deferral options on Pro, Enterprise, and Education versions of Windows 10 version 1903. Admins who don't find them in the Settings application may still configure these in the Group Policy.

Now You: Bug or feature, what is your take?

Windows 10 1903: the case of the missing update deferral options
Article Name
Windows 10 1903: the case of the missing update deferral options
Windows 10 machines that have received the Windows 10 version 1903 feature update, the May 2019 Update, may lack update deferral options in the Settings application.
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  1. Anonymous said on February 21, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    Is it possible to display volume layout information using either of these commands? I can’t seem to determine how to query disk management for this property.

  2. EP said on November 8, 2019 at 12:55 am

    This “missing update deferral option” problem has finally (although silently) been fixed by installing at least the KB4522355 update:

  3. Cole said on September 24, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    I had the defer advanced options. I tried changing the defer feature update settings to 15 days and it just disappeared…

  4. Ron said on August 1, 2019 at 3:16 am

    It’s August now, still the same mess. Microsoft obviously tries to get rid of ‘pesky’ feature deferrals. They want us to be on their ‘service’ (ahem) train. It’s utterly rude behavior to customers who with every upgrade (I’d rather call it a downgrade) get to deal with more limitations. My Windows-days are nearly over, switched – for work – to iMac’s, a laptop and pc are still running 1803 just to have them at hand. If there is no improvement before November in matter of deferral-settings, those pc will be uograded. But for sure not to Windows anymore. I was a professional ‘heavy’ Windows user, but the last few years drove me away from the platform. It’s not of this time anymore, the pushing is unbearable and the stream of bugs that appear with every update and upgrade make it unqualified as a professional OS. :-/

  5. John said on July 1, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Same problem. Just resetting these keys:-

    DeferFeatureUpdates > 0
    DeferQualityUpdates > 0

    DeferFeatureUpdatesPeriodInDays > 0
    DeferQualityUpdatesPeriodInDays > 0

    made no difference but a comparison with a working machine showed a number of missing keys in Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX\Settings on the broken machine. Duplicating good to bad fixed the problem.

    1. John said on July 2, 2019 at 10:15 am

      Ignore my previous post; after a couple of restarts, the defer options disappeared again. Additionally, they have disappeared on my other 3 machines, having “survived” several reboots without disappearing (with values set of 25 days for quality and 50 days for features). The values remain in the registry.

  6. snapdeus said on June 12, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    This happened to me. So very annoying.

  7. Lookmann said on May 31, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Upgrading Win 10 becoming more and more tiresome .

    For 1809 , I had to use USB within Windows 10.

    For 1903, after an error message, asked to copy USB contents to hard drive and click ‘set up’.

    Well, it went on smoothly, updating online.
    [ I downloaded iso from MS, made bootable USB with Rufus.]

  8. Joe said on May 31, 2019 at 12:30 am

    So, I started the Windows 10 1903 update at 1:54 this afternoon. It is now 3:25 and it just completed the download, now, it’s sitting there saying pending install. Give me a break…this update is taking forever. Had I know it would be this long, I never would have started it. Thanks, Microsoft, your still as bad as ever.

  9. Peterc said on May 30, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    You know what I think would make for a good article? A comprehensive summary of the successive changes to Microsoft’s updating policies for each of Windows 10’s branches since the OS was released in July 2015. I’m genuinely impressed by anyone who has the time, energy, and attention to detail to follow and make sense of them. As an ordinary user who doesn’t like buying a pig in a poke, I want to understand and be able to rely on these things before committing to an OS. Where Windows 10 is concerned, I don’t, I can’t, and I won’t.

  10. Sophie said on May 29, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    I personally don’t care if deferral options are missing or not. I am happy as a sand-fly on a >two year old 1607, with all updates well and truly blocked, and rest easy at night.

    Yes, I’ve covered my back. My machine is “mine” thanks Microsoft. Do what you like with all your update shenanigans.

    1. Flabbergasted said on July 15, 2019 at 7:52 am

      You’ve blocked security patches as well? Go unplug your PC from the internet please, right now.

  11. Jeff said on May 29, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Personally I do not install updates on my Windows 10 LTSB except manually standalone/offline MSU updates when I feel I should and upgrade manually using ISO when I feel I should.

  12. OhLord said on May 28, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    It’s just laughable to talk about those deferral options — for years by now — if simply configuring Windows not to download anything and not to install updates (including service packs) while the user is logged on is all it takes. Seriously, only those who mess with the settings app all the day will miss those stupid settings.

    1. Sophie said on May 29, 2019 at 4:24 pm

      @OhLord – I don’t believe that what you say applies any longer. Since Microsoft obfuscated further, and added extra layers (and processes) to the Update process, it is now (in my understanding) virtually impossible to simply disable updates and sit back and expect that setting/those settings to hold.

      Unless I’ve misunderstood your post of course.

  13. Aris said on May 28, 2019 at 10:08 am


    The missing extended “Windows Update” settings are a bug, because they are present on a clean 1903 install, but disappear after setting an update delay higher than 0 days.
    Switching registry values back to default (and leaving group policy settings unchanged/default) is what causes Windows Update settings to reappear.

    DeferFeatureUpdates > 0
    DeferQualityUpdates > 0

    DeferFeatureUpdatesPeriodInDays > 0
    DeferQualityUpdatesPeriodInDays > 0
    BranchReadinessLevel —> should not be present (unclear, if this affects anything)

    All this is for Windows 10 Pro/Enterprise/Education only, on Home settings do not reappear even with everything set to default/0.

    1. Conrad said on June 15, 2019 at 12:57 am

      I made registry changes specified by Aris and once I clicked “Check for Updates”, the two deferral options reappeared with zeroes for both.

      I was not getting the June cumulative update kb4503293, so I downloaded from catalog and installed it before making these registry changes. After making these changes, then another “Check for Updates” found and installed the two other June updates for Security Update for Adobe Flash Player and the Malicious Software Removal Tool. It appears that when you had non-zero deferral values and upgrade to 1903, those are still enforced even though you can’t see them outside of the registry.

      As Aris noticed after 1903 fresh install, changing these back to non-zero values made them disappear again for me.

      I hope Microsoft will fix this, at least for the monthly quality updates. I understand we don’t need to worry about the feature updates anymore, but I don’t want to use regedit or gpedit.msc to change the deferral for quality updates. I don’t want to repeatedly pause the updates either.

      1. Conrad said on June 15, 2019 at 2:32 pm

        Just another point of interest: I just upgraded a different PC from 1809 to 1903 and I made sure to have zeroes for deferral days for feature updates and quality updates before I started the feature update to 1903. I had to manually upgrade as the update was not presented with “Check for Updates”. The two deferral settings with zeroes are still visible after the update.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on May 28, 2019 at 10:19 am

      I checked these a moment ago; these are set to 0 on the test system, it must be something else, at least on that system.

  14. OldNavyGuy said on May 28, 2019 at 9:41 am

    There are no more Semi-Annual (Targeted) and Semi-Annual feature updates.

    My understanding is that when a feature update is vailable, a second download and install prompt appears.

    To delay it, you simply don’t click on the second prompt.

    However, if the Windows version is nearing the end of the 18 month support cycle, the feature update will be installed automatically.

    1. EP said on July 6, 2019 at 2:43 pm

      I’ve read this also and believe it to be true. Only 1 channel and MS is now splitting Security & Quality updates from Feature/Version updates.

      But that doesn’t explain the apparent bug in the UI where *some* 1903 Pro users still have the UI options to defer updates for up to 365 days while *other* Pro users don’t… instead they are stuck with the Home users’ default of 35 days. This is clearly a bug.

  15. ilev said on May 28, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Feature Updates are not the problem as the are now separated from the security/quality updates.
    The problem is the missing of ‘Choose When Updates Are Installed settings : SAC/T, Quality Updates deferral.

  16. Shiro said on May 28, 2019 at 8:18 am

    I did a fresh vm install of the home edition, since I need to upgrade a family member’s PC. Same screen as the one you show in the article, but I have a 35 day pause updates, instead of 7.

    Still unclear if that’s security updates or the feature updates.

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