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IT admins rejoice! Microsoft to stop force-installing Windows 11 feature updates on PCs

Microsoft update and security

Microsoft, earlier today, held its Build 2024 event where it announced several updates as well as new announcements related to developer tools. The company released Preview 4 for .NET 9, aimed at better optimization and support for app development. It also made GitHub Copilot for VS Code generally available. If you are a developer, find out about all that was announced in these articles here.

Aside from Build, Microsoft has also announced an update today on how IT and system admins can manage the deployment of feature updates on managed PCs. Microsoft says that the Windows Update for Business, which helps in the deployment of such feature updates, now adds the option for admins to choose between whether that update is "required" or "optional" for their users.

Therefore, soon, a feature update, say Windows 11 version 23H2, or the upcoming version 24H2, will no longer be force-installed unless it is "required."

In a blog post on the Microsoft Tech Community website, this announcement was made where, Surabhi Calla, a Senior Program Manager at the company, explained its benefits:

Starting today, it's even easier for the users at your organization to upgrade early if you offer them feature updates as optional. This gives you the following benefits:

  • Early feedback: You can gather valuable feedback and insights early by letting some users opt in as early testers of a new feature update. Then proceed with confidence.
  • Risk prevention: Testing prevents risks. You can test new feature updates, realize benefits, and evaluate risks before organization-wide deployment.
  • Greater productivity: If users choose when to install an update, you don't have to worry much about disruption to organizational workflow and productivity.

The steps on how to carry out this via Intune have also been nicely laid out by Calla:

If you use Microsoft Intune, follow these simple steps to deploy feature updates as optional:

Screenshot from Create Policy view in Intune.

  • Select the new deployment setting to set deployment as either optional or required.

Screenshot of Feature deployment settings in Intune with the options to make a selected update required or optional.

  • Select Make available to users as an optional update to enable users to choose their update timing.
  • Once the deployment is created and the update is available for the device, your users can go to Start > Windows Settings > Windows Update to download and install the update.

Once the policy is submitted, the optional update will be available to users within 1-2 days. They can use the Check for updates action, then Download and install the update when ready.

Screenshot of Windows Update settings, showing that the next version of Windows is available and a link to download and install it.

Microsoft says the feature is starting to roll out gradually. You can find the blog post here on the company's official Tech Community website.

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