Microsoft reverses course, restores downloads of Windows 10 November Update

Last weekend, Microsoft suddenly pulled its online tool for downloading the latest Windows 10 installation files. Today, the company explained the seemingly minor bug responsible for the decision, and has now made the tool available again.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

After abruptly pulling the Windows 10 November Update from its download servers last weekend, Microsoft today reversed course. In the process, the company also explained the reason for the sudden decision.

Here's the new official statement:

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. 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 today.

The Windows 10 media creation tool, which allows Windows users to download installation files for clean installations and upgrades, will once again allow anyone to obtain build 10586, a full installation package that incorporates the November Update.

The biggest benefit of the new installation files is that it allows Windows 10 to be activated using a product key from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1.

According to people I spoke with who were aware of the details, a "very, very, very small number of Windows 10 users" who ran the upgrade hit a seemingly minor bug in build 10586.

In this type of upgrade, Windows Setup is supposed to migrate all user settings to the new installation. But in this case, four settings were inadvertently left off that list and were reset to their default values:

  • Let apps use my advertising ID
  • Turn on SmartScreen Filter for web content
  • Let apps run in the background
  • Sync with devices

All four of the settings (two of which are shown in the screenshot above) are set to On in a default installation. Any Windows 10 user who turned those four settings off, either as part of the original Windows 10 installation or after the fact, had them turned back on during the upgrade to build 10586.

The trouble is, all of those settings are under the Privacy heading in the Windows 10 Settings app. Given the legal restrictions that Microsoft works on worldwide as well as the hostile fire the company has taken in the past few months over privacy-related issues with Windows 10, the issue was hyper-sensitive.

That means lawyers were involved, and when the legal team shows up, normal communication grinds to a halt.

It also explains why the original statement that Microsoft supplied on Saturday made no sense. In that statement, Microsoft implied that the decision was part of a routine policy change: "[W]e've decided that future installs should be through Windows Update." That "new policy" lasted less than 72 hours before being reversed. For now, at least, you can still get upgrades through Windows Update or as installation files delivered through the media creation tool.

Current status? The November Update is once again being offered via Windows Update to Windows 10 machines running the original July release, build 10240. (Windows 7 and 8.1 users were never affected.)

A new, just-released cumulative update reportedly will restore the settings for anyone who previously upgraded.

And the media creation tool once again allows downloads of the most recent Current Branch release, in this case build 10586.

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