After days of silence and confusion, Microsoft has finally explained why it silently pulled Windows 10 version 1511 over the weekend. More important, the update is back, both on Windows Update and via the integrated installer.
I wrote about the mystery in What’s Going on With Windows 10 1511?, speculating that it was perhaps related to deployment issues for corporate customers. As it turns out, it was a much more mundane issue that only affected a tiny number of customers.
“Recently we learned of an issue that could have impacted an extremely small number of people who had already installed Windows 10 and applied the November update,” a Microsoft statement belatedly explains. “Once these customers installed the November update, a few of their settings preferences may have inadvertently not been retained. For these customers, we will restore their settings over the coming days and we apologize for the inconvenience. We worked to resolve the issue as quickly as possible – it will not impact future installs of the November update, which is available [again] today.”‘
So that’s good news. What’s not clear from this statement is why Microsoft waited so long to explain itself.
Here’s why: Four privacy settings were not being properly brought forward on the upgrade to 1511, and … well, you know how things go with Windows 10 and privacy. So if you did previously upgrade to 1511 and had fine-tuned your privacy settings, you may want to visit Settings, Privacy and make sure everything is the way you prefer.
These are the four settings that Microsoft screwed up in the initial 1511 upgrade, reverting each to its default value:
(General) Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps (turning this off will reset your ID. Windows 10 will let apps anonymously use your advertising ID—which is tied to your Microsoft account—to provide tailored ads. This feature debuted in Windows 8, and if you disable it, you will simply see random ads in those apps that do display ads.
(General) Turn on SmartScreen Filter to check web content (URLs) that Windows Store apps use. Windows and the Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer web browsers will use SmartScreen technology to help prevent malicious content in web pages and apps from being downloaded to your PC. In doing so, Windows 10 sends your browsing data anonymously to Microsoft.
(Other devices) Sync with devices. Devices you have explicitly paired with your PC or tablet—like a smart phone—can automatically sync data and share information. You can disable this functionality globally or on an app-by-app basis.
(Background apps) Here, you determine which apps are allowed to run in the background.
Suffice to say, none of this matters in the slightest, which makes the pulling of 1511 and the resulting weird silence even weirder.
Anyway, if you were twisting in the wind waiting for Microsoft to explain itself, your waiting is over: You can now use the Media Creation Tool to create a Windows 10 installer that includes the November update(e.g. is Windows 10 version 1511). And if you were blocked from getting the November update in Windows Update, check again. Though as I note in Not Being Offered the Windows 10 Fall Update? This May Be Why, there is another major issue that will prevent the update from appearing.