Microsoft has announced that its next big release of Windows 10 will be called the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, and it will introduce several new features along with a completely new delivery mechanism that will put more power in users' hands. The update will roll out to Windows Insider testers from next week onwards, and will be available to the general public in phases beginning in late May. Microsoft will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the multiple issues that plagued its Windows 10 October 2018 Update. In a post published to the Windows Experience blog, Microsoft says that it has taken users' feedback about the disruptive Windows Update process and has made major changes to how updates are offered, downloaded, and installed.
Beginning with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, users will see notifications that the update is available and that it is recommended, but users will decide for themselves whether or not to install it. The only time that Windows 10 will automatically initiate an update is when a user's current version is approaching its end-of-service date, which is typically at least two years for each release.
New controls will allow users to pause all update activity for 35 days, and choose to only initiate updates when they check for them manually. Major version updates will be distinguished from periodic security patches and bug fixes, which do not pose as much of a risk of failure. An Intelligent Active Hours feature will detect when users are less likely to be interrupted by an update, since very few people actually choose their active hours manually.
Microsoft will publish a new online dashboard to allow users to check the status of updates, and understand any potential issues as they are detected. The company hopes that this will improve transparency. All this comes shortly after Microsoft introduced a way for failed Windows Updates to be rolled back automatically in case a PC cannot boot. Another update earlier this year caused unexpected performance degradation in a small number of games.
Up until now, Microsoft has automatically updated users' PCs and allowed only minimal delays or deferrals. Following catastrophic bugs with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update that saw some people lose important files and report crashes, the company was forced to cancel the rollout multiple times and then release it in very small batches as it collected data about potential incompatibilities and other problems. Further, Microsoft decided to blacklist some PCs based on hardware and software that might not function as intended immediately after an update, to allow time for other manufacturers to prepare their own drivers or patches.
The May 2019 Update is already releasing later than expected, and the Windows Experience blog post says that the company has spent more time with it in a release preview phase which allows PC OEMs, software vendors, and other ecosystem partners test compatibility. In addition to user feedback and telemetry collected automatically, Microsoft has begun using machine learning to help predict and identify potentially disruptive issues at the global scale.