After being withdrawn due to multiple serious issues that were discovered by unfortunate early adopters, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update is finally ready to be installed automatically on PCs worldwide. The update, also known as Windows 10 1809, has been available for some time to users who explicitly chose to download and install it, understanding the risks. Now, Microsoft seems to have decided that it is stable enough for all users to receive automatically. The rollout will happen in phases, and is expected to progress slowly, most likely so that any lingering issues can be addressed as they come up.
The Windows 10 October 2018 Update was originally released in early October but was quickly pulled from distribution due to a severe bug that resulted in the deletion of users' personal data. Users reported that their entire Documents and Pictures folders, full of data, had disappeared. It later emerged that this bug had been identified and reported by members of Microsoft's Insider beta test programme but nothing had been done about it prior to the public release.
Users also encountered another bug that affected how ZIP files were handled. It was possible for users to believe that they were copying and pasting the contents of ZIP files (which Windows represents as ordinary folders), but data would not actually be moved, resulting in files not being where they were needed. The operations would appear to be running as normal, leaving users unaware of the data loss. In some cases, files that were moved rather than copied would disappear from the source location but also not materialise in the intended destination.
Following that, Microsoft claimed to have fixed the bugs, and allowed a small number of users to download the update, while it collected telemetry to identify more possible issues. The update has been available for download manually since mid-December 2018, but with several blocks in place that would prevent it from being installed on PCs with potential hardware of software conflicts, including older AMD graphics cards and versions of the iCloud syncing utility.
Now, all users will be able to download the October 2018 Update manually, and a small number will see the usual alerts that an automatic update is available. The updates will gradually reach more and more people over the next few weeks and months. Given Microsoft's recent history, we would strongly advise all users who consider installing the update to have back up all their important data thoroughly before proceeding.