Windows 10 Pro Users Can No Longer Defer Windows Updates

Posted on June 27, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 38 Comments

With Windows 10 version 2004, Microsoft is removing a key perk of Windows 10 Pro or better: The ability to defer updates up to 365 days.

“Last year, we changed update installation policies for Windows 10 to only target devices running a feature update version that is nearing [the] end of service,” a Microsoft support document explains. “As a result, many devices are only updating once a year. To enable all devices to make the most of this policy change, and to prevent confusion, we have removed deferrals from the Windows Update settings Advanced Options page starting on Windows 10 version 2004.”

This is a bit confusing, so let me explain how this works in Windows 10 versions prior to 2004.

To date, Windows 10 users, whether they’re using the Home or Pro product editions, have been able to “pause” Windows Updates in one-day increments up to 35 days via the Advanced Options page noted in the quote above. And in recent versions of Windows 10, Microsoft simplified this capability by adding a “Pause updates for up to 7 days” option in the main Windows Update page. You could select this option up to five times total to push the update pausing out to a maximum of 35 days.

Also to date, those on Windows 10 Pro or higher could also choose to “defer” updates via a “Choose when updates are installed” option in that same Advanced Options page.

“Available only in Windows 10 Pro, this [feature] lets you separately defer—meaning “delay”—the installation of both feature and quality updates, and do so using unique schedules for each,” I write in the current version of the Windows 10 Field Guide. “Feature updates can be deferred for up to one year in one-day increments. And quality updates can be deferred for up to 30 days, also in one-day increments. Aside from the time frames, the difference between these options and the manual pause capability is that they are permanent and apply to any updates that are coming in the future.”

With Windows 10 version 2004, Microsoft is removing that second feature, the ability to defer updates via the “Choose when updates are installed” option in the Advanced Options page. So now, everyone on Windows 10, regardless of the product edition, as the same options to delay updates, but only up to 35 days. You can do so in 7-day increments via Windows Update, or in 1-day increments via Windows Update’s Advanced Options page.

As to the logic of this change, I’m not buying it. But Microsoft is at least allowing power users to use Local Group Policy to (re-)enable update deferrals, at least for now.

To enable this feature, open Start, type group, and select “Edit group policy” to open the Local Group Policy MMC (Microsoft Management Console). Then, navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business. Then, in turn, select “Select when Preview builds and Feature Updates are received” and “Select when Quality Updates are received” and set each to Enabled.

This won’t return the “Choose when updates are installed” option in the Advanced Options page of Windows Update. Instead, you will have to configure the deferral timeframe inside of the Local Group Policy MMC with either option opened. Quality updates can be deferred up to 30 days and feature updates can be deferred up to 365 days as before.

Note also that making this change will add a prominent “*Some settings are managed by your corporation” message to Windows Update as well. This is a small price to pay for those who do wish to defer updates, I think.

I will add this information to the Windows 10 Field Guide, which I’m now updating for Windows 10 versions 2004 and 20H1, in the next update.

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Comments (38)

38 responses to “Windows 10 Pro Users Can No Longer Defer Windows Updates”

  1. bart

    Can't see why you would want to miss out on all these fantastic updates?

  2. Awhispersecho

    This company simply does not deserve consumers or fans or one bit of loyalty from anyone. It feels like every single day they take a crap on their users. I would give anything for somewhere else to go besides Apple and Google. MS and specifically Windows exists solely because there is no good alternative. In every market where there is a good alternative, they are lagging far behind or they have already been driven completely out of that market.

  3. Winner

    Just don't think it's your OS; it's Microsoft's OS on your machine.

  4. wordz42

    So, does Microsoft return the extra $60 I paid for Windows 10 Pro for the perk of deferring updates more than 35 days?

  5. oscar999

    Same with Enterprise editions after installment of 2004, you have to use GPO´s to enable it.

  6. chump2010

    Just to say that Ghacks has posted an article saying that you can actually set a registry setting and tell Windows 10 Professional to stay at a particular version:

  7. kb923689

    Unbothered. I'm running LTSC with only security updates enabled.

  8. red.radar

    I used to get really bent out of shape by these things. I accepted long ago that Windows as a Service means that Darth Vadar is controlling the updates of my PC and he is more than willing to alter the deal.

    I just pray they don't alter it any further.

    It is sort of crappy that they announce this on some buried blog page a month after the release.

  9. jlmerrill

    What a bummer!

  10. tadams587

    Ok, I' ll stay on build 1903.

  11. red77star

    The reason for this is a bad fragmentation of Windows 10. Windows Update as service failed and Microsoft is trying to force everyone to the latest version to solve bad fragmentation created by defer option. Unfortunately, Windows 10 is failing badly and Microsoft needs to pull the plug on it. The next thing they are going to remove is group policy. My prediction is that Windows 10 is going to be dead in 5 years among most of the consumers. Windows 10 is a horrible OS and its UI is the worst pile of crap i have seen in the history of OS. People who Microsoft hired to do design among other things will drive Windows to the ground, don't get mad at me.

    To fix Windows on desktop is easy...get rid of Windows 10, bring back Windows 7 (improve on desktop experience) and bring some good under hood changes they have in Windows 10 and work on the next big thing. For God sake get rid of that baloney called cross platform, WSL and all of other nonsense they baked into Windows.

  12. ebraiter

    No issue with the monthly quality updates limited to 35 days but unhappy that the feature updates are now limited.

  13. BizTechSherpa

    Paul's article:

    Microsoft: "To enable all devices to make the most of this policy change, and to prevent confusion, we have removed deferrals from the Windows Update settings Advanced Options page starting on Windows 10 version 2004.”

    Paul: "This is a bit confusing, so let me explain how this works in Windows 10 versions prior to 2004."

    The reason it is confusing is because Microsoft is saying one thing, the Microsoft quote above, and doing another thing from what PEOPLE expect. They use the word "devices" in their comments, but of course this affects PEOPLE.

    See the confusion?

  14. digiguy

    I'll give you my recent experience with this... One of my laptops is on 1909 and Windows asked me to reboot to install 2004. I accepted. It's a 2012 laptop, with a Sandy Bridge 35w i7, still pretty capable. It didn't boot anymore after the update... At some point Windows rolled back to 1909 by itself. At that point I enable the 365 days delay... I hope Microsoft will have solved the problems by then and not destroy this old, but still quite competent ultrabook.

  15. john_m

    There is another workaround to this issue. Just make sure you're using a new Surface product and Microsoft won't be able to get their update working on your hardware for months after it's shipped. It is baffling how these decisions are being made.

  16. sherlockholmes

    And yet again, Microsoft goes the wrong way. So typical. They never learn.

  17. colin79666

    They are slowly removing the pro out of “pro” edition. They might as well just call it enthusiast and be honest with businesses that they want to sell them subscriptions for enterprise edition.

  18. siv

    I think until they get back to 100% reliable Windows updates (ie employ proper testers with every conceivable type of PC available to them and make sure nothig nasty occurs after the update) they should not be doing this. The recent update has caused problems for some people who have printers connected via USB. I also think they should increase the period over which you can roll back a feature update as 10 days is just too short a period for you to hit all the issues that a normal user might have. I can go more than 10 days without printing something and then when I do it will be something I really need so to discover that you have this bug and you can't now roll back is a pain in the arse!

    • navarac

      In reply to Siv:

      I tend to keep multiple images of my main PC to mitigate this. Also have a running Linux Ubuntu system which I tend to use more and more.

  19. sherlockholmes

    In reply to navarac:

    Thank god my son uses a Windows 10 Education and my wife and I are both using a Windows 10 Enterprise E3 license. Freedom. At least for the time being.

  20. Vladimir Carli

    I guess Microsoft has a large team of engineers busy 12 hours a day in planning the update schedules for the million versions of Windows. It would be nice if they diverted part of these Human Resources to actually improve the consistency of windows

  21. eric_rasmussen

    I don't understand this. Unless Microsoft hired back their testing team, this is a terrible decision.

    I've been looking at the Steam Remote Play stuff, going to try it out today. If it works, I'm putting my gaming PC in my work office upstairs and then switching my main PC to either macOS (been wanting to build a hackintosh anyway) or Linux and then stream my games to it via Steam.

  22. RobertJasiek

    Of course, I have been using MMC to set Windows Updates but MS does the wrong thing again driving away more people to Linux and Apple.

  23. Elan Gabriel

    They want Windows to fail. They have zero interest with consumers. Just want the cloud. Also, they should stop selling home/pro, it's an archaic approach.

    • datameister

      In reply to egab:

      Especially if they are not going to treat you like a Pro and let you decide when is the best time to install this-will-break-something-that-currently-works-fine updates.

  24. madthinus

    I am ok with this change. They push these updates really slowly now and by the time you are forced an update you are more than a year down the line

    • navarac

      In reply to madthinus:

      You might change your mind when an update goes belly-up on you and totally borks your PC.

      • madthinus

        In reply to navarac:

        For home, I transition most of my machines with the Windows Upgrade advisor, as I find it much faster than through Windows Update.

        Whether you delay for a year or a month, it does not really matter. If an upgrade is going south on you, it is going south on you, irrespective of how long it is delayed. They are now so slow at pushing out updates that this change makes sense for most private users. For companies, the group policy now allow you to extend beyond 365 days. So I think the change is balanced.

    • anoldamigauser

      In reply to madthinus:

      At the rate that Windows 10 2004 is going out, if users chose to delay it by a year, they might go two years without an update.

  25. swish41

    ill stay with windows ltsc best thing iv bought in a long time!