Windows Update: Safeguard Holds for likely issues are only for businesses, says Microsoft

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 6, 2022
Windows Updates

We all know that Windows Updates may lead to issues on target devices during installation or afterwards. Updates in the past have caused all kinds of issues, from boot issues over lost data to broken functionality.

microsoft windows safeguard holds
image credit: Microsoft

When Microsoft releases new feature updates for Windows, it is using Machine Learning and a feature called Safeguard holds to reduce the likelihood of disaster.

Feature updates are distributed in waves via Windows Updates, but these waves are not just randomly selected. The first wave hits devices that are considered to be least likely affected by updating issues. Microsoft uses Machine Learning to pick these devices.

All Windows machines benefit from Safeguard holds. These block updates on machines with known issues. Known issues are confirmed by Microsoft engineers. Devices that are matched to issues are blocked from receiving the updates; this is one of the reasons why updates are offered to some devices and not to others.

Likely issues are different in several aspects. Microsoft describes a likely issue as unconfirmed issues that its machine learning service identified across millions of unmanaged home and business devices that it scans dialy.

These indicators of issues can be rollbacks during updates, a malfunctioning app or driver, graphics, audio or connectivity issues, or other kinds of issues that appeared in sizeable numbers after the installation of an update.

Unlike known issues, which result in the blocking of updates on all unmanaged Windows devices, likely issues are only blocked for business customers. Specifically, the feature is only available to "organizations with Windows 10/11 Enterprise E3 or greater, including Education variants" according to Microsoft.

Machine learning puts devices that would be affected by likely issues on hold to avoid that the issue is experienced on these devices. Likely issue safeguard holds vary in time according to Microsoft; they give administrators time to "make an informed decision on how to proceed with the update".

Likely issues that are confirmed become known issues. Safeguard holds affecting known issues impact all Windows devices that are unmanaged, which means that home users benefit from them as well. Likely issues may also be deemed false positives or more scoped in nature. Safeguard holds are then removed for devices that are not affected by the issue.

Read more on SafeGuard Holds on Microsoft's Tech Community website.

Closing Words

Microsoft does not reveal why it limits likely issue Safeguard holds to business customers. Home users would benefit from the blocking of updates as well if their devices are identified as having likely issues. In fact, one could argue that Microsoft is putting these devices at risk by now blocking the updates.

Now You: should Microsoft block likely update issues on home devices? (via Deskmodder)

Windows Update: Safeguard Holds for likely issues are only for businesses, says Microsoft
Article Name
Windows Update: Safeguard Holds for likely issues are only for businesses, says Microsoft
Microsoft uses Safeguard Holds to block Windows updates on machines that may be affected by confirmed or likely issues.
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  1. Anonymous123 said on August 7, 2022 at 10:09 am

    M$ windows is a putrid privacy invasive OS. That has really shit security and privacy.

    The fact that it is used by so many companies, so many governments, whilst being fully closed source and demanding an expensive license fee gave M$ unspeakable power and wealth as a corporation, money put into Gates pockets literally to dictate to the public with his BS. His voice and his views on how humanity should live is creepy as ****. There is something seriously not right with that man.

    Just look at Gates, buying up all that farmland, dictating to the public about how people should live, what they should eat, what they should be injecting. Really weird shit, if it was up to him, he would probably have people eating the bugs lol. It is all in the name, windows? As if windows allows the corporation M$ to see into the OS, which is not far fetched as it seems, considering M$ privacy and the way they force people into accepting updates, online user accounts and and non customization of THEIR OS, yes M$’s OS.

    Using windows feels like a prison run by a corporation, where the users don’t actually get a say lol. Contrast that with Gates BS and the way he dictates to the public as if they don’t really have a say either on how they should live.

    Uninstalling that shit OS for something like Linux is an act of freedom.

  2. CHRISTOPHER LAURIE said on August 6, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    What a poorly worded title.
    Instead say: “Windows Update: Safeguard Holds for businesses”.?

  3. Mothy said on August 6, 2022 at 9:03 pm

    Machine learning is no substitute for having real people do quality assurance testing on all kinds of hardware (like Microsoft used to do). This Safeguard Holds is just an excuse for them to justify dumping their QA testers and collecting all the telemetry on everyone’s computers. Microsoft has truly lost the plot with their operating system. It’s just a clown show now.

  4. Tachy said on August 6, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    Millions of free beta testers using hardware that M$ knows every detail of.

    What company is going to not use a resource like that?

  5. X said on August 6, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    Whichever one’s take on that “feature”, it just confirms -as if it needed be- that M$hit keeps unique identifiers and stores much info on clients’ machines.

  6. Emanon said on August 6, 2022 at 11:23 am

    This is not used on home users, cause they not reliable, this should stick to people that know what they doing, before affecting every Windows Desktop on the planet.

    1. John Rico said on August 7, 2022 at 10:47 pm

      I don’t know. Every time that an update causes issues, it’s the home users the first affected as enterprise admins usually delay updates.

  7. Paul(us) said on August 6, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Would Microsoft follow this policy because they know that there are companies that have enough money to start a lawsuit, against them if something goes wrong?

    Since the willingness to sue is growing expensively these days and Microsoft understands who they really have something to fear from financially, I do understand this abject move.

    1. Corky said on August 6, 2022 at 11:08 am

      INAL and I’ve not read Microsoft’s enterprise license terms but i suspect they’ve done a good job of covering themselves in terms of legal action from other businesses.

      It’s probably more a money thing, enterprise licenses can cost a lot especially when you’re talking about big companies with potentially hundreds of thousands of workstations, they probably just don’t want to upset the golden goose.

  8. Anonymous said on August 6, 2022 at 8:53 am

    Quote: Microsoft does not reveal why it limits likely issue Safeguard holds to business customers.

    The cynics among us would believe that Microsoft is concerned with retaining business customers and knows home users as a mass are generally uneducated folk who take their PC to a repairer who charges, says its fixed and does not say the precise cause of the problem. The users say, “thanks, you are a genius”. Everybody is happy, other than home users who cure their own problems and understand the reason only too well. Losing a few of those is not a massive dent in Microsoft’s profit. Mostly they still get paid for OEM version if the user buys a major bran and installs a different OS.

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