Ask @WinObs: Can I Postpone Receiving the Next Feature Update for Windows 10?

Richard Hay

Q. Can I postpone receiving the next feature update for Windows 10?

Microsoft has been developing the fifth feature update for Windows 10 since late last year, and that work is now in the final stages as they stabilize the update and prepare for its general availability next month.

When Windows 10 first came out almost three years ago, there were no official options for consumers to delay the installation of a new feature update. Once it arrived on Windows Update for your device there was no turning back from that upgrade cycle.

However, if you are running Windows 10 Professional, settings have been built into the OS that will give you a couple of options for delaying the upgrade to the latest feature update.

Note: This option is not available as part of Windows 10 Home.

If you go into Windows Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and then click on Advanced Options under Update settings.

This is where you have two options for postponing updates to Windows 10. Let’s take a closer look at what is at your disposal for delaying a feature update upgrade.

First, let’s begin by looking at the last option on the page labelled Pause Updates. This is one single toggle that will allow you to pause all updates for Windows 10 for 35 days. Turning this option on will pause both feature and quality updates. Feature updates arethe big releases each March and September with new features, and quality updates are the monthly cumulative update patches that are used to address security and system performance related issues.

Once your 35-day paused period has passed, your system will have to download and install any pending updates before you can use this pause feature again on this device.  This would include both feature and quality updates if available.

So, if you are looking to just delay the installation of the next feature update for about a month this option should work very well to cover that period. Since Microsoft usually announces the expected release date for their semi-annual feature updates, you can keep an eye out for that news and then put the pause into effect just prior to that date.

If that 35-day period is not sufficient for you to delay the next feature update then you will want to look at the options that are listed under Choose when updates are installed on the top half of this settings page.

Two new terms are introduced under these settings. You can select either from the drop-down at the top of the settings page.

Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) – This is the status of any feature updates on the day they are released and ready for download to most consumer systems as part of a rollout by Microsoft.

Semi-Annual Channel – A feature update usually gets this designation a couple of months after its release. By this time, it has had a couple of monthly cumulative updates released to cover any security/performance issues. At this point Microsoft considers the release is ready for use across most organizations.

Your first option under these settings to delay a feature update is to use this drop-down box and select Semi-Annual Channel as your readiness branch for feature updates. This should give you a delay of about two months after the initial release of the latest feature update before it would be installed on your system.

Be aware though, Microsoft does not make a formal announcement of when a feature update reaches this status so that time frame might vary between feature update cycles.

There are two additional drop-down boxes in this area that allow you to designate a specific number of days to defer the installation of feature or quality updates on your system. This is the setting that provides the greatest amount of control over when a new feature update will be downloaded and installed on your device.

The first drop-down box allows you to pick the number of days (up to 365) to defer a feature update and if it is set to 0 then the update will be downloaded when it is available or based on other settings you have selected for pausing updates.

In the second drop-down box, you can opt to delay quality updates for up to 30 days. My recommendation here is to only change this if you maintain rigorous security patching on your own. You would not want to leave your system vulnerable to an active exploit or to a bug that you are experiencing.

In both of these situations, your device will have to download any pending feature or quality updates after the deferment period expires before you can set a new period to defer updates.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are on Windows 10 Home, these options are not available to you for deferring or pausing updates. While there are options available from third party apps to perform similar actions, I don’t recommend these. Your best bet if you need to exercise this kind of control over pausing/deferring updates is to invest in an upgrade to Windows 10 Professional, then take advantage of the options outlined above.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2018-03-27:

Richard Hay

About Richard Hay

Richard, a 30-year Navy veteran, has been watching and writing about tech for over two decades. He is a Microsoft MVP and senior contributing editor at Penton's SuperSite for Windows.