Software

Windows 10: Microsoft stops short of letting all users defer buggy updates

A forthcoming feature that lets users pause updates to Windows 10 for up to 35 days won't be universally available.

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Image: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

Despite buggy patches breaking Windows 10 PCs last year, Microsoft has decided that Home users will not be able to defer updates to the OS.

In April this year, Windows 10 will gain a new feature that lets most updates be paused for up to 35 days.

However, the feature, revealed in the latest preview build of Windows 10, will not be coming to the Windows Home edition. Instead it will be restricted to users of the Professional, Education and Enterprise editions of Windows, which already have options for deferring updates.

Last year glitches in updates to Windows 10 caused problems ranging from frozen systems and broken webcams to Windows 10 PCs not being able to connect to the internet. Since Home edition users can't put off installing updates, they couldn't hold off patching machines until these issues were resolved.

Susan Bradley, a Microsoft-certified Most Valued Professional, started a long-running petition calling for Home users to be given more control over updates. She said this latest pause updates feature should be extended beyond Enterprise, Pro and Education editions.

"All customers should have the ability to pause updates. Consumers should not be beta testers, they have the right to quality updates just like business customers are given access to," she said.

"It's not just the pause, but the ability to opt into defer feature releases that should be in all versions — even to consumers. No customer should get a work in progress."

In feedback to Microsoft via the Windows Insider Feedback Hub, she expanded on why Home users need more control: "I think everyone has the right to not be subject to weekly reboots, long wait for bugs to get fixed (hello file server indexing bug, which will still not be fixed today) and all the bugginess that Windows 10 has brought to the patching world."

Ben Schneider, founder of London-based IT support specialist ITGUY, said that while security updates should always be applied straight away, there was scope to let experienced Windows Home users pause non-security updates.

"There should be enough of a pause to check 'Is it breaking things?'," he said, adding that the ability to defer updates should be limited to those Home users who clicked to confirm they knew what they were doing.

While Microsoft argues this forced upgrade approach helps keep users' machines secure and up to date, some users are calling for greater control over when updates are applied — without having to resort to hacks.

Windows 10 has been updated to give Home edition users more control over the time of day when updates are applied, but this change falls short of the level of control sought by the group of Home users petitioning Microsoft. This group wants the Home edition to be able to defer updates in much the same way that other most editions can.

Most other editions of Windows 10 can defer updates for at least several months to allow any early issues with patches to be ironed out. Those running Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise or Educations editions enjoy even more control via the Windows Update for Business feature, which allows users to put off new feature releases for up to six months and security updates for up to four weeks.

Microsoft didn't respond when asked to clarify which updates will be able to be delayed using the new pause updates feature. The feature will be added to Windows 10 as part of the Creators Update in April, alongside a host of new features revealed in the Windows Insider build 15002, which was released yesterday.

Read more on Windows 10

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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