Microsoft changes Windows Update for Business options


Microsoft employee John Wilcox revealed yesterday that Microsoft will remove the Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) option from Windows Update from Windows 10 version 1903 forward.

Business customers have two options right now to define when updates get released: they may set a deferral period for feature updates and select between the Semi-Annual Channel or Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted). The latter two options may sound confusing at first but are explained easily.

Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) is identical to what consumers get. It is the only option and that just means that two feature updates of Windows 10 are delivered via Windows Update to consumer devices each year.

Businesses had the option to delay when feature updates become available by switching to the Semi-Annual Channel instead. All that this channel did was delay the update availability by about 4 months. Starting in Windows 10 version 1903, that option won’t be available anymore but the option to delay feature updates remains.

wufb branch readiness 1903

If you open the Advanced Options on a business version of Windows 10 version 1903 or later, you will notice that the option to switch channels has been removed.

While that may look like another attempt of Microsoft to give businesses less choice, it is not really that bad provided that administrators know about this and can react to it as it is easy enough to adjust the deferral period accordingly.

Wilcox notes that there was never a dedicated Semi-Annual Channel release but just a milestone release of the Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted).

What administrators need to do in Windows 10 version 1903 is to adjust the deferral period accordingly to add the removed Semi-Annual Channel delay period that way. Just add 120 days to the deferral period once Windows 10 version 1903 is installed to reflect the change.

Devices configured with a branch readiness of Semi-Annual Channel will get the upgrade to Windows 10 version 1903 with a delay of 60 days according to Microsoft for that release only. The change will be server-side and only active for that particular release; it won’t affect any release after Windows 10 version 1903.

Closing Words

The removal of Semi-Annual Channel may have an impact on devices after the release of Windows 10 version 1903 but only if the administrator does not modify the deferral period.

It could result in feature updates being delivered earlier than expected to Windows for Business devices; Woody Leonhard hopes that the change results in release quality improvements to take the possibility into account.

Microsoft did not state that and it is almost certain that the company would have pushed the narrative if that would be the case (hey, look, we don’t need Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) anymore because feature update quality increased by this much). I think it is just a consolidation.

Now You: Do you defer or block Windows Updates?

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