This post was co-authored by John Wilcox (Windows as a Service Evangelist, Windows Servicing & Delivery), Alec Oot (Principal Program Manager Lead, Windows Servicing & Delivery), and Will Patton (Senior Program Manager, Windows Servicing & Delivery)
In recent blogs by John Cable and myself, we shared how Windows 10, version 1909 (referred to internally as 19H2) will continue our efforts to improve the overall update experience for consumers and businesses. In this post, we are sharing more detail about the mechanics that will be used to provide those improvements.
Before we describe what’s new, however, we want to clarify that if a device is running any version of Windows 10 earlier than version 1903, the process of updating to version 1909 will be the same as previous feature updates. This applies to devices managed with Windows Update or Windows Update for Business, or devices self-managed with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Configuration Manager, or other management tool. Again, for devices running Windows 10, version 1809 and previous, there is nothing new with the update process to version 1909.
What’s new about delivering Windows 10, version 1909
Devices running Windows 10, version 1903 can take advantage of a new way of servicing that leverages the same servicing technology used to deliver monthly quality updates to get the new features and capabilities available in version 1909. This enables you to install the update to Windows 10, version 1909 with an improved update experience and reduced downtime.
Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909 share a common core operating system with an identical set of system files. As a result, the new features in Windows 10, version 1909 were included in the latest monthly quality update for Windows 10, version 1903 (released October 8, 2019), but are currently in a dormant/disabled state. These new features will remain dormant until they are turned on via an “enablement package,” a small, quick-to-install “master switch” that simply activates the Windows 10, version 1909 features.
The enablement package is a great option for installing a scoped feature update like Windows 10, version 1909 as it allows you to update from version 1903 to version 1909 with a single restart, reducing update downtime and, thus, enabling you to take advantage of new features right away. Additionally, since Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909 share a common baseline, applications and drivers that worked with version 1903 are designed to work as-is with version 1909, just like any Windows 10 quality update.
How to get Windows 10, version 1909
As stated above, if your device is running any version of Windows 10 earlier than version 1903, there are no changes to how you install Windows 10, version 1909. If your devices are running Windows 10, version 1903, here is guidance on how to update to Windows 10, version 1909.
For devices managed by Windows Update
If you receive updates directly from Windows Update, the Windows 10, version 1909 update will be presented just like any feature update. The installation process will be faster, but, as with any feature update, you will have the ability to choose when to install version 1909 using the controls that we announced earlier this year.
If you are using Windows Update for Business, you will receive the Windows 10, version 1909 update in the same way as prior feature updates and as defined by your feature update deferral policy. Windows will automatically choose the right path and will update devices already running Windows 10, version 1903 to Windows 10, version 1909 using the enablement package.
For self-managed devices
All of the existing options you use to deploy feature updates are supported with Windows 10, version 1909, and update media is (or will soon be) available in all of the normal channels (for more detailed information on timing, please see the Windows IT Pro blog). Note that installing Windows 10, version 1909 via media does not provide the time savings and reduced restarts available when upgrading from version 1903 to version 1909 using the enablement package.
We are making the Windows 10, version 1909 enablement package available on WSUS as KB4517245, which can be deployed on existing deployments of Windows 10, version 1903.
You can verify that the Windows 10, version 1909 update was successful by running Winver, versioning APIs, WMI, and other common interfaces, and verifying that the operating system build number is 18363. Because of the common baseline, even after installing Windows 10, version 1909, individual system file versions will still appear as 18362.
If you choose to keep your devices on Windows 10, version 1903, the disk-space overhead of the dormant/disabled features that are part of the common monthly update is less than 25 MB. Again, those features will remain dormant/disabled until the Windows 10, version 1909 enablement package is used.
If you do need to uninstall Windows 10, version 1909, open your Windows Update settings (Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > View update history), select Uninstall updates, and uninstall the Feature Update to Windows 10 version 1909 via Enablement Package (KB4517245). This will revert the device to Windows 10, version 1903. This is a separate path from the Recovery tab, which uninstalls the most recent non-servicing-based feature update.
Windows Server instances will continue to receive Windows Server, version 1903 monthly quality updates. The feature enablement package will not be automatically offered to Windows Server by Windows Update, nor will it be available in the Microsoft Update Catalog or via WSUS. Instead, refreshed update media will soon be made available for updating to Windows Server, version 1909.
30 months of support
We want to conclude this post with a quick reminder. Devices running Windows 10, version 1903 receive 18 months of support. Devices running the Enterprise, IoT Enterprise, or Education editions of Windows 10, version 1909 receive 30 months of support. For more information about the Windows servicing lifecycle, please see the Windows lifecycle fact sheet.