Microsoft Credits AI for April 2018 Update Rollout Success

Posted on June 14, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 61 Comments

In a sharp retort to the feedback I’m getting from users, Microsoft claims that the April 2018 Update rollout is the most successful yet. And it credits Artificial Intelligence (AI) for this win.

Yes, really.

“For the first time, we’ve leveraged AI at scale to greatly improve the quality and reliability of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update rollout,” Microsoft’s John Cable explains. “Our overall rollout objective is for a safe and reliable update, which means we only go as fast as is safe.”

There is a lot of good data in the Microsoft announcement.

First, let’s talk quality. I continue to hear from readers and podcast listeners that the April 2018 Update is an unqualified disaster. It is far less reliably installed and works less well when installed than the previous two Windows 10 feature updates.

This is not the story that Microsoft tells, however.

“Early data shows the quality of the April 2018 Update exceeding earlier versions of Windows 10 in both reliability and performance,” Mr. Cable retorts, but then adds a qualifier. “Of course, this work is never done, and we continue to partner to with our hardware and software partners to drive additional performance and reliability improvements in Windows 10.”

He cites the following improvements:

  • 20 percent reduction in system stability issues.
  • 20 percent total reduction in operating system and driver stability issues, in collaboration with PC makers, on over 400,000 ecosystem drivers.
  • Faster updates by reducing the amount of time a PC is offline updating by up to 63 percent.
  • Microsoft Edge launch times improved by up to 40 to 50 percent on initial boot.
  • A continued reduction in call and online support requests to both Microsoft and PC makers with this update.

As noted, Microsoft credits its use of AI for these gains.

“Our AI approach intelligently selects [PCs] that our feedback data indicate would have a great update experience and offers the April 2018 Update to these devices first,” Cable writes. “As our rollout progresses, we continuously collect update experience data and retrain our models to learn which [PCs] will have a positive update experience, and where we may need to wait until we have higher confidence in a great experience. Our overall rollout objective is for a safe and reliable update, which means we only go as fast as is safe.”

That last bit is interesting, and here Microsoft actually corroborates, rather than refutes, my other major contention about the April 2018 Update. Which is that it has rolled out much more quickly than any other Windows 10 feature update.

“The April 2018 Update is officially the fastest version of Windows 10 to reach 250 million devices, achieving that mark in less than half the time it took the Fall Creators Update,” Cable notes.

That 250 million number is interesting. So is the fact that Windows 10 still hasn’t reached 700 million devices yet: Cable notes, again, that “Windows 10 is approaching 700 million monthly active devices.” Terry Myerson first made that claim way back in April.

But let’s return to that 250 million number.

As you may recall, the most recent AdDuplex report showed that 50 percent of all Windows 10 PCs out in the world were updated to the April 2018 Update (version 1803) in the first month of its release. If that were so, there would be roughly 350 million PCs running this version. But Microsoft says there are only 250 million.

The key here is that phrase “out in the world.” AdDuplex measures usage based on ads in Store apps, and it’s very likely that a big segment of the user base, in particular in the enterprise, isn’t reporting any usage data as a result. The important thing about the AdDuplex data is that it’s consistent with previous reports. And Microsoft actually does verify the AdDuplex claim that the April 2018 Update rollout is twice as fast as that of the previous release, as noted above.

And here’s the most amazing part, perhaps. Based on the success it’s seeing, Microsoft is actually going to further speed the April 2018 Update rollout. It’s going to release it to everyone effective immediately.

“We are now expanding the release broadly to make the April 2018 Update (version 1803) fully available for all compatible [PCs] running Windows 10 worldwide,” Mr. Cable writes. “Full availability is the final phase of our rollout process. You don’t have to do anything to get the update; it will rollout automatically to you through Windows Update.”


Literally. And on that note, I’d I’d just like to state for the record, again, that the feedback I receive is clear and that I get a ton of feedback from users both good and bad with every Windows 10 feature update. And Microsoft’s claims here about reliability and quality simply do not match what I’m seeing.

This is a first: When the Anniversary Update when south two years ago, Microsoft saw the same issues I did. And when the subsequent two feature updates were very successful, both Microsoft and I saw the same feedback from users. So it’s unclear to me what’s happening here. And I’m sorry if this makes me a bit suspicious, but it does.

Anyway, if you haven’t received the April 2018 Update yet, you’re about to. My advice is to block it for at least 30 days and see how things work out in the real world before allowing this to happen to your computer. Windows 10 Pro users can defer this update in Settings. Windows 10 Home users will need to get a bit more creative. And while there’s no great approach, the easiest way to do this is to configure your network connection as a metered connection in Settings. And then set a calendar/to-do reminder to disable that in the future.

Good luck.


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Comments (61)

61 responses to “Microsoft Credits AI for April 2018 Update Rollout Success”

  1. chrisrut

    I wonder if some kind of self-selection bias could be at play, such that users more likely to experience issues are gathered here on this site - birds of a feather, and all that.

    Unfortunately I'm one of those people for whom things usually "just work." Accordingly this update has been relatively pain free. I feel so left out...

    • beatnixxx

      In reply to chrisrut:

      Likewise, I did delay it initially when it was first released based on the rumors of problems. But just this last week it updated, and it's been so smooth that I frankly had forgotten it updated until reading this. No problems here. Having said that, I'm on a Surface Pro 4, so you'd hope that at a minimum they could upgrade their own hardware with minimal issues.

      • IanYates82

        In reply to beatnixxx:

        Similar boat. I forgot it had updated. Only issue for me is that my fingerprint reader died. Some workaround on the lenovo forums, involving some Intel driver updates, and it was back to normal. We've all got our good / bad anecdotes unfortunately

        • beatnixxx

          In reply to IanYates82:

          I may have spoken too soon. over the last week, I have a strange problem where the keyboard cover to my surface is not functioning. the system knows it's there, but trackpad/keyboard don't work.

          I thought maybe the keyboard itself was going out, but I have a spare and that had the same problem. It works intermittently, but haven't been able to reproduce with any consistency.

          Could still be hardware, if it's on the Surface side of the connections, not sure, but just started happening recently.

  2. DemBones

    So if the update is on 250 million devices, how many of the users of those devices have reported problems to Paul? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? While I doubt it's any of those numbers, even if you assume 100,000, that's 0.04% of the 250 million. Of course, that argument is fallacious. Most of the users of those 250 million devices probably don't have the first clue who Paul Thurrott is and have never visited this site, but I can use bias and fallacy to make a point too.

    Once again, we get Paul's reliance on confirmation bias (I had problems installing the update) and selection bias (some undefined number of visitors to my website had problems) to support his argument that he presents as undeniable fact (the update is terrible and no one should install it).

    • irfaanwahid

      In reply to DemBones:

      I was actually thinking the same numbers. Agreed Paul maybe getting a lot of comments, emails etc on the reliability issues but it is still unmatched to what Microsoft is getting through its telemetry feedback.

  3. ecumenical

    Two PCs updated here, no problems. Complainers are always the loudest.

  4. Singingwolf

    Definitely the worst for me across 10 different PCs since Win 10 launch.

    Things like language and Edge copy paste crash bugs still exist today! They so far have only acknowledged the language one offering a work around via PowerShell of all things.

    If you have WMP Tag Plus it corrupts / breaks Media Player. Windows recorded TV shows can't be played anymore in Windows without swapping a DLL file for one in the previous release. And on one machine, when I update the AMD video drivers with any version from the last few months, video constantly crashes (an older driver works fine, and yes I have tried the one they released the other week certified for 1803).

    All these were created as bugs in the feedback tool dating back to Dec.

    10 machines across various hardware is not anecdotal. It's fact.

  5. pbeiler1

    Updated all 24 PCs in my office without a problem. Happened automatically via Intune. The devices are all Surface units, all models of surfaces (1, 2, 3, 4, 4.5), one old surface book, and one new surface book.

  6. MikeGalos

    So the question is whether to go with the data from tens of millions of telemetered setups or relatively tiny, self-selecting group of people who complained to a tech editorial writer.

  7. chump2010

    The way Paul goes on about Ad-Duplex, one would think they are sponsoring his content or something. I think I am much more likely to trust Microsoft's data sample than Ad-Duplex. For some reason Paul never mentions the fact that as they sell Adverts, they need to make their base seem bigger than it is. Or should I say they have an active interest in trying to make it seem like they have as big an advert base as possible.

    I do note that Adduplex say there data is based on 5000 apps in the Windows store on a particular day. They do not say how many users it is based on - whether they are seeing 330 million unique users or whether it is an extrapolation. Microsoft on the other hand would have no need to extrapolate due to telemetry.

    • seapea

      In reply to chump2010:

      Paul has mentioned many times what Adduplex does. He has also stated many times that the comparisons being made are within Adduplex results over the past few years.

      You put a lot of faith in telemetry when 1: lots of power users don't allow the telemetry data to be sent 2: a fair amount of 'normal' users don't allow the data through 3: telemetry gave us ribbons everywhere, took away shortcuts and shuffled quite a few menus - none of which the majority of users were happy with.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to chump2010:

      MS’ data gave us Windows 8. Everything they did there was claimed to be backed by their telemetry.

  8. seapea

    I wonder how much of MSFT data is skewed due to a lot of people not using the things that get broken - for instance the Cortana link to Outlook.

  9. train_wreck

    I’ll point out that when they say “20% less problems with instability”, they are tacitly admitting that the previous updates were 20% more unstable ?

    Not that I believe them, of course.

  10. Kevin Holt

    I've definitely seen issues , maybe about 30 % have had issues. Range from complete blank screen ( I.e. wont boot up , require a crash and reboot ) to network adapters refusing to get an Address ( the most common ), to Thunderbolt 3 ports not working until 2 reboots later. These issues also seem to be random , on one site 2 PC's would update at the same time ( same exact hardware and config ) one has issues the other fine. I cant see a pattern to them.

  11. feek

    So there must be a group or person around there middle of the org painting a prettier picture than is reality - where that wasn't done before (au) ?

  12. lezmaka

    Haven't had any reliability issues on the three systems I've upgraded. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    What I have had problems with is Visual Studio 2017.

  13. Trickyd

    My newest machine a Jan 2018 HP ProBook with 8th gen Intel i7 , blue screen of deathed continuously after the April update and had to be restored back to 1703 and as its on Win 10 Pro I've deferred feature updates now. Our 8 other machines, all at least 18 months old had no issues whatsover with 1803 (which was why I risked updating the Probook!) . So I would be wary of using it on new kit for a while.

  14. RM

    First, enterprises can block access to the store (mine does). So there definitely is a large segment not reported in AdDuplex.

    Second, I don't have any issues on both an old computer and new laptop with the April 2018 update.

    The 700 million vs “Windows 10 is approaching 700 million monthly active devices” is likely a combination of rounding up (by Terry) and / or installs vs active devices.

  15. TechsUK

    Our company blocks adduplex and others.

    10% of our machines are 1803

    60% 1709

    30% 1703 and LTSB

    1803 is easily the smoothest rollout here so far.

  16. RonV42

    This is where I have mixed thoughts on this, one is that more people report problems than good experiences. Support forums, twitter, etc are mostly issue based because that is the channel most will leverage when they have an issue. If I built products only based on what was reported in my companies twitter feed, Facebook feed, or the support desk I would assume my companies products were 100% crap.

    Paul's audience is such a small percentage of the total user pool so the statistics are skewed vs. what Microsoft's telemetry provides them. Is there a marketing message in the Microsoft article, sure, but it a disaster as Paul is referring to? Probably not. My companies telemetry tells a much different story that the social touch points so I would have to give Microsoft the benefit of having he numbers that Paul doesn't.

  17. Mark from CO

    No view, one way or the other, intended. But the 5 machines I use all were updated without incident... far.

  18. Barrett808

    Here's a quick post on what I had to do to get 1803 working on my Dell XPS-15: Windows 10 v1803.

  19. Patrick3D

    We've seen the issue with a disk letter being assigned to the restore partition on a few Dell laptops, but nothing more and that issue is trivial to fix while only being a minor nuisance to the end-user. If I had to estimate, 95% of our systems updated without a single issue. At home, my file server continues to lag behind at receiving updates by 5-6 weeks and just updated 2 days ago without issue. All-in-all 1803 has been a smashing success. Microsoft has come a long way since the disaster that the first "Anniversary" update was. It seems their Achilles heel continues to be old video chipsets from both Nvidia and AMD.

  20. captobie

    " that the feedback I receive is clear and that I get a ton of feedback from users both good and bad"

    "The April 2018 Update is officially the fastest version of Windows 10 to reach 250 million devices"

    I'm guessing your sample size is somewhat smaller than 250 million?

  21. cseafous

    It may have been more constructive for them to say they were looking into why user feedback didn't match their telemetry. Telling people their personal experiences are wrong has never won anybody over.

    • wright_is

      In reply to cseafous:

      It depends, I've yet to speak to anyone who has had any problems with the update and I have personally now updated in excess of 50 PCs and none have shown any problems (well, one displayed an error message, because there wasn't enough free space, cleared up space and it worked).

      That doesn't mean that some people somewhere aren't having problems.

      The other thing to remember is, people who have problems with a product complain, people who experience no problems usually don't say anything. I certainly haven't made a positive post, every time a new PC got the update and it worked without problems.

      The question is, what percentage of people are having problems?

      • cseafous

        In reply to wright_is:

        I haven't had any problems either. I don't think the issue with their statement has to do with accuracy so much as timing. Issuing a statement about how trouble free the updates are is not a problem by itself. Issuing a statement about how trouble free the updates are in response to people saying they have update troubles is a problem. Sometimes you have to learn how to read the room.

  22. Rug

    I have 1803 running on various computers at home and our testing at work thus far has been positive.

  23. red.radar

    Perhaps we made a mountain out of a molehill ? Data is data... I installed April update to thread between semesters and .... it’s been fine! ....but I did clean instal.

    I will I’ll eat my humble pie and admit it wasn’t so bad and I was worried about nothing a good backup strategy couldn’t fix

    but we need another good update or two to build some trust.

  24. Siv

    It has definitely been hit and miss. I have the majority of my clients on it now and there have been a few who have had issues with things like older versions of MS Office broken in strange ways. A client today had just received it and it had broken Outlook 2010 so that I had to start it with "Outlook.exe /ResetNavPane" as it was crashing on start up with a navigation pane bad xml error. Later in the day the same client called back and her copy of Word was broken:

    "Word experienced a serious problem with the Foxit pdf creator com add-in. If you have seen this message multiple times, you should disable this add-in and check to see if an update is available. Do you want to disable this add-in – Yes   - NO" - so I disabled Foxit's add-in and order seemed to be restored. So although Windows itself seemed OK it seems to be causing issues with other applications which is what users notice most!


  25. Brazbit

    Anecdotally my experience thus far has been great with the update on my various devices.

    I don't see where the 250 million claim by Microsoft and the 50% figure from AdDuplex are linked other than by this article. The 250 million mark is a milestone, and could be used as such if the istall base was 500 million or 500 billion. It's still the fastest to that point. I don't see how you are equating that to 50% when no such claim was made. Without a link there is no indication of the speed to 350 million, 50% or any other measurement. Microsoft never said there was only 250 million, they could have hit that number weeks ago or last night, we don't have any way of knowing from what has been quoted. A link to the announcement would be handy.

  26. MikeCerm

    I've personally installed this upgrade on dozens of systems, all different, and haven't really had any problems. I do find it odd that Microsoft has been so aggressive with it compared to previous releases. I was one of those "seekers" who pushed "check for updates" on day one as was surprised that it was being offered to me. But it's basically been fine on every system that I manage, so I'm not sure where all the horror stories are coming from.

  27. Chaoticwhizz

    1803 still breaks RemoteApp to the point its basically unusable. When you have a lot of customers that use it, it is very frustrating.

  28. darkgrayknight

    My computers are all working fine with the update. I did not see any issues with this one.

  29. Albatross

    My daughter has a Lenovo M73 Tiny PC. Ever since the 1803 update it can't go 3 hours without the screen freezing. The update broke the graphics driver. Pretty common problem going by the Lenovo forums. Requires power-off without proper shutdown to recover.

  30. Jules Wombat

    Microsoft Edge is now taking 90 seconds to load first site (on one of my machines) since the April 2018 update. It was less than 5 seconds,

    No other problems or issues, and installed ok on three other machines.

  31. Martin Pelletier

    I had to do a PC Reset after the update. Had many BSODs. Not it's ok.

  32. yb

    Unfortunately, I am one of those people who experienced problems with 1803 and the 3 cumulative updates that followed:

    I have two machines: HP pavilion [2017 edition] and ACER netbook [2013/4 edition]. Same experience on very different machines.

    1803 update took well over 3 hrs on each machine; on every cumulative update since, the update was rolled back: I got various error codes, and repairing is very time consuming. I am really fed up with Windows 10, and self congratulatory messages like the one above certainly do not help. Work-wise, we are considering updating our office machines: at the moment there is no way we are going to get Windows operated machines. not with this sort of mess !

    error codes? for KB4103729 it was 0x80240034, and for KB4287903 it was 0x800f0922.

    I am dreading thinking which error code I will get and how long it will take to fix- when next Patch Tuesday arrives.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to yb:

      I wonder if it has to do with some of the software you are running on those machines.

      • yb

        In reply to lvthunder:

        I run photoshop elements, excel and word 2016 cc cleaner VLC - all stuff I have been running on windows 10 for some years... nothing special.

    • Siv

      In reply to yb:

      What anti-virus do you use? as I am noticing that users with Avast and ThreatTrack Vipre seem to have the most issues with Windows Updates and it does make me wonder if they are somehow blocking the updates. I am almost at the point of recommending that users of these two AV products uninstall them before the update and then put back on as soon as it's back up. Or switch to Malwarebytes as that doesn't seem to cause issues.


      • yb

        In reply to Siv:

        I only use windows defender

        • Siv

          In reply to yb:

          Well that should definitely work as Defender should be fully aware of what a Windows Update is doing and not interfere with it.

          In my experience if a Windows feature update takes that long to complete it is usually down to you having masses of data that it needs to back up before removing Windows installing the new version and then putting your data back into the new version.

          Maybe if you slimmed down the amount of data (even if temporarily) maybe it would succeed.

          I would also scan for Viruses using something like the free version of Malwarebytes just in case you have some nasty piece of work lurking on your system that Defender is missing. As these can interfere with the update process.

  33. thespecificocean

    All of the workstations at my office (about 10 2nd/3rd Gen Intel Core I systems) got 1803 almost immediately. Haven't had any real issues of note. I guess we're the lucky ones. :)

  34. Sprtfan

    I've had 6 computers update with out issue with 2 of them being older systems that I put together. I guess I did need to reinstall a few apps on one of the systems for some reason but nothing that I considered major.

    I'm assuming that this was taken into account, but if the roll out is 3x faster than previous roll outs, I'd expect that you would hear 3x the amount of complaints in the same time frame if the error rate was the same as it was in the past.

  35. PeteB

    I credit GWX/malware-like forced upgrade tactics that ignore your defer-update settings, ignore metered connection setting, ignore windows update service being disabled, ignore "defer feature updates by X days" GPO. Just wake up one morning and "welcome to your useless April update!" with all the crapware installed back again, Edge default again, program defaults reset, my CAD program removed, Cortana spying back on, Candy crush bubble witch bullshit back infesting the start menu.

    Microsofts utter disdain for their customers is baffling.

    • ecumenical

      In reply to PeteB:

      None of those things actually happen, though. My program defaults are the same, there's no Candy Crush, there's no "crapware" installed (whatever that was supposed to be referring to), no programs were removed (lolwut), I was able to defer just fine on my desktop... it sounds like you have a seriously broken installation, maybe from messing with all the update registry settings and disabling services and stuff.

  36. Waethorn

    It's not AI - it's skip logic.

    And 1803 is causing problems left and right from what I see. Lots of AMD graphics driver issues, systems needing firmware updates for power management to work with this build, etc.

  37. F4IL

    I just can't help but notice how round all these stats are.

    Anyway, with marketing being marketing, the April update brought the familiar set of issues to a couple of my work machines as well. Specifically the disappearing (desktop) icons, no desktop after user logins, etc. What strikes me as odd this time around, is how common these issues are, especially on standard hardware configurations most people use in business deployments.

    I think they should focus more on quality control instead of paying lip service to their PR.

  38. bbold

    Per Leo's comments on Windows Weekly, I would also have to agree that perhaps the increased rate of incidents regarding 'bad' April updates reflects the fast pace at which it is being deployed. So, of course, you're going to have more complaints if the rollout is going out to so many people at a faster pace than before. Alternatively, I have updated 5 machines with the April 2018 update with NO issues. This includes a new Surface Book 2, Surface Pro 2017, an older Lenovo desktop PC, and 2 budget Windows 10 laptops. The only issue I've had is Edge being a bit buggy on two of those machines, but those issues have now seemed to have gone away with recent cumulative updates. Just my 2 cents! (Please mark me in the 'positive rollout experience' column for 5 machines, 2 of those Microsoft hardware and 3 of those from 3rd party vendors.)


    • aemond

      In reply to bbold: exactly. I love Paul a lot but the fact that he didn't understand Leo's comment in a podcast one month or so ago makes me think Paul isn't the best when it comes to stats / representativity of a data set.

      • ncn

        I didn't know about Leo's comment but it exactly reflects my sentiments. (Car analogy follows) the faster you drive down the road the faster the telephone poles go by ... there aren't any more of them.

        • seapea

          In reply to ncn:

          uhm, not quite. the previous update had fewer telephone poles on the road to begin with due to the road workers being able to use the previous milestones.