Windows 10 Anniversary Update Has Shorter Rollback Period

Microsoft has narrowed the timeframe that users have to reset their operating systems after installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, also known as version 1607.

The update, released Tuesday, gives users just 10 days instead of the usual 30 to perform an OS rollback on their PC.

Microsoft had enabled the original 30-day rollback capability for individuals and organizations performing in-place Windows 10 upgrades from Windows 7. In-place upgrades promised faster upgrades than the old "wipe-and-replace" approach. The 30-day policy served as an assurance of sorts that Windows 7 users wouldn't be left high and dry if their Windows 10 upgrade didn't go well. They could reset their PCs back to Windows 7 within the allotted time.

However, with the release of Windows 10 version 1607, individuals and organizations now just have 10 days to perform an OS rollback before the Windows 10 version 1607 install becomes fixed. Failure to roll back within that timeframe means facing the more labor-intensive wipe-and-replace approach in order to restore the OS.

That 10-day policy change was noted this week by Supersite Windows writer Richard Hay in this article. He noted that Microsoft doesn't provide any warnings or alerts to upgraders that they have just 10 days to roll back.

Microsoft confirmed the 10-day policy change in a statement sent to Hay. In the statement, Microsoft explained that it shortened the rollback period to free up storage space for users. In addition, Microsoft's research suggested that most users who roll back do it "within the first several days."

Possibly, scanty drive space on some devices necessitated the policy change. Windows 10 version 1607 is a somewhat large release. The change bits are 24MB for x86 devices and 36MB for x64 machines, according to a Microsoft support article.

Upgrade Issues
The OS' installation size seems to have affected some upgraders, who couldn't download it. Other installers have reported that some personal settings are getting rolled back to their defaults with the Windows 10 version 1607 update. Microsoft is currently addressing an issue with version 1607 that resets settings for the Pen, Notification panel, Tablet Mode and Virtual Desktops features.

InfoWorld writer Woody Leonhard has noted problems with Cortana that were associated with a patch issued shortly before the release of Windows 10 version 1607. He's advising that users avoid Windows 10 version 1607 until some new problems get fixed.

Upgrade Deferrals
Blocking Windows 10 version 1607, and other Windows 10 OS updates, isn't exactly an option that Microsoft supports. It supports update deferrals, at best, with its new service-enabled Windows 10 approach. Features updates can be deferred, while security updates still get delivered, per this Microsoft support article explanation.

OS updates arrive automatically via the Windows Update service for consumer Windows 10 users, who don't really have an update deferral capability as they used to have with earlier Windows versions. On the business side, management software can be used to defer Windows 10 updates, such as Microsoft's own System Center Configuration Manager or Windows Server Update Services. Those users won't even see Windows 10 version 1607 until Aug. 16.

The best update control for organizations is available via the Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10, which permit the "long-term servicing branch" update model to be used. The long-term servicing branch permits update deferrals throughout the product's lifecycle (up to 10 years max). Microsoft expects organizations to follow the "current branch for business" update model, which permits one-year update deferrals at longest. The deferral gets done using the "defer upgrades setting." Here's how Microsoft's Windows 10 servicing options publication described it:

The Defer upgrades setting can function as an additional validation check, so that Current Branch for Business machines that are targeted with a new upgrade prior to the end of the initial four-month deferral period will decline to install it; they can install the upgrade any time within the eight-month window after that initial four-month deferral period.

That said, there are hacks out there that ostensibly block or defer Windows 10 upgrades. Leonhard described his approach in this InfoWorld article. Other suggestions come via an Into Windows blog post, as well as an blog post, but they are unofficial, non-Microsoft recommendations, of course.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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