Getting the Windows 10 April Update: The Fine Print
- By Kurt Mackie
- May 01, 2018
In typical Microsoft fashion, just because the Windows 10 April 2018 Update was officially released on Monday, doesn't mean that accessing it is a straightforward affair.
Availability of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update -- otherwise known as version 1803, build 17134 -- will depend on whether you are a consumer user or an organization, whether you have a Visual Studio subscription (formerly known as an MSDN subscription) or volume licensing access, and whether Microsoft actually thinks your PC or organization is ready to receive the Windows 10 April 2018 Update.
Availability of the updates is actually determined by Microsoft's algorithms. Microsoft is using machine learning to target its major semiannual channel Windows 10 update rollouts. The machine learning algorithms identify the machines that are ready to get these releases, according an announcement by John Cable, director of program management for Windows servicing and delivery. He also suggested that in-place upgrades to these new OS releases will take place over a shorter period of time because Microsoft has added some offline update steps into the online update process.
The offline update process is the period where machines aren't available to end users. The online process occurs over time in the background during idle moments and theoretically it doesn't affect end user operations. Because Microsoft made a change where more of the update process happens during the online period, there's now a time reduction for in-place updates. For instance, the average offline update time was "82 minutes" for Windows 10 "Fall Creators Update" upgrades. That time was reduced to "30 minutes" with Windows Insider program updates, according to Microsoft in this preview note explanation.
Even if the Windows 10 April 2018 update isn't there for an organization or an end user, April 30 marks the date of the semiannual channel release. That date starts the 18-month servicing clock that organizations need to watch to keep Windows 10 clients properly serviced so that they will continue to receive security updates. Here's how Cable described it:
For our commercial customers, the release of the Windows 10, version 1803 on April 30, 2018 marks the start of the Semi-Annual Channel and begins the 18-month servicing timeline. Just as we're rolling out the April 2018 Update in phases to consumers, we recommend IT administrators do the same within their organizations.
Cable is urging organizations to follow Microsoft's advice to test Windows 10 with about 10 percent of end users before rolling it out more broadly, as Microsoft has previously advised.
System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) version 1802 is bringing the ability to "execute phased deployment rings" with Windows 10 and Office 365 updates.
"This will further automate the servicing of Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus by updating IT-defined groups one at a time, and automatically initiating the next group once the health of the first deployment is confirmed," explained Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Enterprise Mobility + Security, in a Friday announcement.
Availability for Organizations
The Windows 10 April 2018 Update is currently available via the Windows Server Update Services solution, which is for organizations needing control over the delivery of updates. It'll also get delivered automatically for organizations using Windows Update for Business, Cable indicated, although Microsoft previously added the ability to defer updates using Windows Update for Business for up to a year, if wanted. Windows Update for Business was described back in January as not playing well with SCCM. Apparently, that's still the case, since there's been no news on that front.
The Windows 10 April 2018 update is also available from the Visual Studio Subscriptions portal and the Software Download Center via "Update Assistant or Media Creation Tool," according to a Microsoft Tech Community post. However, at press time, it wasn't appearing at the Visual Studio Subscriptions portal.
Apparently, when using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to create an ISO file for installation, it'll use the latest Windows 10 update. The April update also is available for testing using the Windows 10 Enterprise edition by downloading it from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.
Alternatively, users can potentially trigger the update to arrive, if it's deemed ready for them, by checking the Settings menu in Windows. It's done by going to the Update and Security page, and checking for updates under Windows Update, as described in this video.
May 8 General Rollout
The general rollout of the Windows 10 April 2018 will actually start to begin on May 8, which is coincidentally "update Tuesday," when Microsoft delivers its monthly security updates. However, the April update release is a phased rollout, and it won't be available if Microsoft's algorithms determine a system isn't deemed ready for it.
The update typically will arrive as an in-place update for consumer users of the Windows 10 Home edition, who serve as test guinea pigs for other users. They have no easy way to avoid major Windows 10 updates from arriving, although they can postpone them for a limited time.
Microsoft last year gave end users a warning page signaling that an update is coming. It has a snooze option and option to pick a day for the update to occur within a seven-day time period. However, it was described back then as just being for Enterprise edition users.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.