Despite Microsoft saying publicly that Windows 10 will be the ‘last version’ with just incremental updates made available, many will be familiar with the twice annual feature updates released which basically totally upgrade the operating system.  Numbering for these releases was originally (maybe optimistically) intended to indicate the year and month of release, though we’re expecting 1909 (the September 2019 update) to land some time in November.  1903 (March) was released in May…  you get the idea.

The big difference this time around is that Microsoft are not planning on delivering this as a full feature update, but rather as a cumulative update, like those we’re used to seeing on the second Tuesday of each month.  Feature updates in the past have presented the appearance (and size) of a whole new operating system installation.  Certainly a challenge for those on slow connections.

In recent years the issues with these feature updates is how IT departments handle them.  The installation can be time consuming and often requires a lengthy reboot, which is all downtime users don’t want.  However these upgrades are important because Microsoft are not patching every version of Windows 10 for an infinite amount of time.  Generally speaking each release is only supported for 18 months for most users of Windows 10 based on the Windows 10 life-cycle fact sheet.  As such these feature updates are important.

When delivering 1909 as a cumulative update then, IT departments are hoping that the install process will not only be quicker, but without the associated risk of problems which new feature updates can bring.  Those who have seen the upgrade process may be familiar with the screen proudly stating that “your files and folders will all be where you left them”, leaving the question ‘you mean there was a chance that they wouldn’t be?’

It remains to be seen how 1909 goes, some previous feature updates have been released only to be pulled back hours later after bugs were found.  One other big change with 1909 is that any new features will be turned off by default, so you may not even notice that your PC has been upgraded.

Those using patch management tools should see the upgrade land in their queues during the second week of November.  For those patching manually, do consider one of the many tools available to automate the task of installing these important security updates.  Our favorite here at Westcom is Manage Engine which supports patching of software from multiple vendors.

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