Microsoft accidentally releases, then pulls Windows 10 preview build

This morning, Microsoft inadvertently released a preview build of Windows 10 to every ring of the Windows Insider Program. The incident was quickly resolved, but it serves as a cautionary tale. Here's how to respond if an unwanted update appears on your PC.

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Oops. Members of the Windows Insider Program got an unpleasant surprise this morning, as Microsoft accidentally released preview build 18947 to every Insider ring. The botched release, which had not gone through the normal vetting process from the Windows release team, even targeted Insiders in the Slow ring, which normally receives builds only after they've been validated by a large group of testers in the Fast ring.

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(The issue was first noted on Twitter by Zac Bowden of Windows Central, who also has noted several details of new features that were available in the build and presumably not ready for public release yet.)

The early build was removed from update servers roughly an hour later, but not before it automatically downloaded to an unknown number of PCs set up as part of the Windows Insider Program. Reached for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson said, "This was an error and we've since pulled the build."

For the 795 million or so PCs running Windows 10 that are running official Windows 10 versions and aren't a part of the Insider program, today's false alarm was a non-issue. But the incident offers a cautionary tale on how to respond in the event you find a Windows 10 feature update awaiting installation and you aren't ready to install it.

First, Windows 10 doesn't immediately restart after downloading a feature update. Instead, you see one or more prompts offering you the opportunity to schedule the restart and installation. Here's what you'll see on the Windows Update page in Settings:

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Two available options are obvious: Restart Now and Schedule The Restart. There's no obvious button to cancel the update, but you can do exactly that by clicking the Pause Updates button. That option clears any pending updates and results in a screen like the one shown here.

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In this case, the seven-day pause is sufficient; you can click the Resume button any time within that seven-day period to check for and install other updates. If you want the pause to extend more than a week, click Advanced Options and select a specific date up to 35 days in the future.

Several hours after pulling the affected update down, Microsoft posted this additional statement on Twitter:

The blog post goes into more details on how to identify a PC that's running the incorrectly released Insider build and includes instructions on how to rollback to the previous version if you installed it before realizing it wasn't an official release.