Windows 10 tip: Temporarily delay the Fall Creators Update

Each time Microsoft rolls out a major upgrade to Windows 10, you have the option to wait a few months before you install it on PCs running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise. But you have to act quickly.

Windows 10 after two years: Was the upgrade worth it?

fall-creators-update-defer-feature-updates.jpg

Use these settings in Windows 10 version 1703 to defer the Fall Creators Update until the end of 2018.

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[Note: This article was originally published in mid-2016 for the Anniversary Update. It has been completely revised and republished for subsequent Windows 10 feature updates. This revision covers version 1709 and was last updated 24-Sep-2017.]

On October 17, Microsoft's update servers will begin delivering the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to current installations of Windows 10 that have been running for at least 30 days.

This is the latest feature update in Microsoft's new twice-a-year release cadence, and you should view it with the skepticism any initial public release of a new Windows version deserves. In a business setting, that typically means delaying the upgrade for a few months while you deploy the new release on a smaller number of test devices.

This deferral process is available only on PCs running business and education editions. Windows 10 Home does not offer any deferral options.

Over the course of several feature updates since the initial release of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft has tinkered with the interface for deferring feature updates. The steps I describe here assume that you have already installed the Creators Update, version 1703.

Step 1 is to move your PC from the Current Branch (which gets feature updates as soon as they're released to the public) to the Current Branch for Business. (Yes, Microsoft has changed these names, but this is what you'll see in Settings.)

To make the change, go to Settings > Update & security > Advanced options and choose Current Branch for Business, as shown here. That defers feature updates until Microsoft declares them "ready for business deployment," a milestone that typically occurs about four months after the Current Branch release.

See also: FAQ: How to install, reinstall, upgrade and activate Windows 10 | Here's how you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade | FAQ: How to manage Windows 10 updates | Windows 10: You've got questions, I've got answers | After one year, 10 lessons learned for Windows 10

If you need more time, you can delay the upgrade by up to an additional 365 days from the release date for the branch you selected; on any PC where you choose the full 365-day deferral and have opted in to the Current Branch for Business, you'll be spared any feature updates until sometime in early 2019. (Here, too, this option is available only on PCs running business and education versions of Windows 10.)

To make the equivalent changes in Windows 10 version 1607, follow a slightly different set of steps.

First, go to Settings > Update & security > Advanced options and click the Defer feature updates check box. That option moves the current device to the Current Branch for Business.

To set additional deferrals, open Local Group Policy Editor (Gpedit.msc) and navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Defer Windows Updates. Open the policy Select when feature updates are received, set it to Enabled, and then use the controls to choose your preferred branch. You can set a deferral period of up to 180 days in version 1607.

Just be sure to set a calendar reminder at least a week or two before the expiration date, because you won't receive any warning when the clock runs out. You'll simply see the update offered for installation, with no more options to delay or defer.

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Next week: Another Windows 10 tip from Ed Bott

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