Reports say Win10 Creators Update users are being forced to Fall Creators Update. Again.

With Microsoft’s declaration yesterday that Win10 FCU (version 1709) is ready for business, there are some reports that Pro 1703 machines with 'feature update' delays set at 365 days are getting pushed.

broken window with windows logo in clouds
Thinkstock/Microsoft

Microsoft’s documentation runs all over the place, but yesterday an announcement from ‘Softie John Cable is widely interpreted as saying that Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, version 1709, is now ready for business use. Gregg Keizer has details.

Cable says:

Fall Creators Update (version 1709) is fully available for all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide! Full availability is the final phase of our rollout process. … Enterprise customers following this same targeted approach for the Semi-Annual Channel can also fully deploy when ready.

While that isn’t, literally, the “Current Branch for Business” imprimatur that we’ve had in the past, as Keizer explains, it’s the closest we’re going to get.

Tellingly, Microsoft’s official Windows 10 release information page (see screenshot) is all over the map. While Cable’s announcement seems to designate 1709 as a “Semi-Annual Channel” release (formerly Current Branch for Business), in fact Microsoft’s page still shows it as “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)” which corresponds to the old “Current Branch.”

current version by servicing option Woody Leonhard/IDG

Old terminology and new terminology are scattered willy-nilly on the site. Michael Niehaus explained the difference in mumbo-jumbo realignment, back in July.

Whether 1709 is Current Branch, Current Branch for Business, or Entirely Revised New Semi-Annual Uncharted Territory Branch (Targeted), those of us running Win10 1703 who don’t want to move to 1709 are faced with a troubling prospect: how to tell Windows Update to keep its mitts off, until we’re good and ready to move to 1709?

The Win10 Pro (and Enterprise) 1703 Update Advanced Options choices, as shown in the screenshot, includes four settings.

1703 update advanced options Woody Leonhard/IDG

Microsoft has changed its definitions twice, but at this point it appears as if:

  • The Current Branch for Business setting has no meaning, as of yesterday.
  • The feature update deferral setting is supposed to protect you from forced version changes for the indicated number of days.
  • The quality update deferral setting is supposed to protect you from forced Automatic Updates by the indicated number of days.
  • The Pause Updates setting turns off all updates for 35 days.

As you may recall, Microsoft completely ignored the Current Branch for Business setting in November. Ultimately, Microsoft acknowledged the “known issue” and fixed it in December. Meanwhile, many who told 1703 to hold off on updating were pushed ahead to 1709 anyway. At that point, it became apparent that you had to run the feature update deferral up to 365, to avoid getting pushed.

Susan Bradley, in Windows Secrets Newsletter, reported in November that the problem may have been with the user interface (as in the screenshot above) not being correctly picked up by the installer:

Some small business admins had 1709 installed on systems where they thought they had pushed off the update for several months. Microsoft acknowledged that the 1703 version may receive the 1709 feature update when you are not expecting it. They promised to fix the issue in an upcoming update. I personally think the issue is selecting to defer the feature update in the GUI is not “sticking.” If you use the local group policy to push off the feature update that seems to be sticking.

Now, I’m seeing complaints that those with the feature update deferral set at 365 are getting pushed onto 1709 anyway. Is it possible that Bradley’s “sticking” problem has returned?

I’m not saying that Fall Creators Update is bad. I’m saying that it’s still too early to tell. For example, last month’s 1709 cumulative update, KB 4054517 was a disaster. Microsoft itself says that the December cumulative update had two known issues:

  • Update installation may stop at 99% and may show elevated CPU or disk utilization
  • Windows Update History reports that KB4054517 failed to install because of Error 0x80070643

And we all know about the many problems with this month’s Win10 cumulative updates in general, and 1709’s in particular.

In addition, there are well-documented problems with Asus and Lenovo Wi-Fi chipsets. Homegroups get hosed (Microsoft’s deprecating Homegroups in 1803 anyway), there are reported problems with delayed printing, and a bunch of nitpicking anomalies.

All in all, the Fall Creators Update has been remarkably stable — but many folks want to decide for themselves when the upgrade gets installed. With “Current Branch for Business” deferral now, apparently, rolled over, it’s an open question how to best keep 1709 at bay.

Questions? Comments? Observations? We’re all ears on the AskWoody Lounge.

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