Microsoft eliminates manual deferrals of Windows Update by IT professionals ‘to avoid confusion’

Microsoft is removing the possibility for business users to manually defer Windows 10 feature updates using Windows Update settings starting with Windows 10 2004 / May Update. Apparently, Microsoft made this change public with a change to its Windows 10 2004 documentation for IT professionals on June 23.

Microsoft officials say this change is happening in the name of reducing confusion. Here is the explanation from the Microsoft page (which I saw thanks to and from which a reader had heard last week. (Last week I assumed it was a bug, but now it seems like it’s actually a “feature”).

“Last year, we changed the update installation policies for Windows 10 so that they only target devices running a feature update version that is coming to the end of service. As a result, many devices only update once a year. “To allow all devices to take full advantage of this policy change, and to avoid confusion, we have removed deferrals from the Advanced Settings page of Windows Update starting with Windows 10, version 2004.”

Before the May 2020/2004 update release, Pro, Education, and Enterprise users could manually defer updates for 365 days using the Advanced Settings page of Windows Update. (For more information, see this post on how to manage Windows 10 feature updates.)

In the future, for users who want to retain the ability to defer feature updates manually, Microsoft offers this guide:

“If you want to continue taking advantage of deferrals, you can use the Local Group Policy (Computer Configuration> Administrative Templates> Windows Components> Windows Update> Windows Update for Business> Select when previews and feature updates are received or Select when quality updates are received) “.

Microsoft has been continually modifying the way the Windows 10 update process works based on “user feedback,” which appears to be largely complaints. Microsoft makes two Windows 10 feature updates available each year. Business users have had the right to defer those updates for up to 365 days, unless their devices are running a Windows 10 feature update that is nearing the end of support. Windows 10 Home users last year got the right to pause feature updates for up to 35 days.

Several Enterprise and Education users only care about the Windows 10 feature update released in the fall because they get 30 months of support (instead of 18 months of support for the spring feature update). Consequently, some of those users only update their Windows 10 devices every two years using the fall update. (See my ZDNet colleague Ed Bott’s post for a full rundown of how Windows 10 feature updates work.)

Microsoft began rolling out the May 2020/2004 update on May 27. I asked Microsoft if the company had anything to say about why users weren’t notified in advance about this change, but received no response.