Microsoft is giving back control of Windows Update with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update

Microsoft announced the Windows 10 May 2019 Update today, along with an overhaul of how the company handles Windows updates in general. As expected, the feature update is version 1903, since it did RTM during the month of March.

The May 2019 Update will arrive in the Release Preview ring of the Windows Insider Program next week, a major shift from the last development cycle. You might recall that with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, Microsoft skipped over Release Preview entirely and went straight to production, a move with disastrous consequences. Some users upgrading to version 1809 found that their files had been deleted, and the update was temporarily pulled from servers.

Microsoft is now promising that the May 2019 Update will have an extended period in Release Preview, and general availability won't be until late May. That means that Windows 10 version 1903 will spend at least another month in testing.

But that's not all, because Windows Update is getting a new "download and install" option, finally putting an end to the whole "seeker" thing, or at least changing what it means. With the last couple of updates, Microsoft initially rolled out feature updates to "seekers", and that meant anyone that manually checked for updates in Windows Update. This meant that if you were just looking for a cumulative update on Patch Tuesday, you got a feature update that could potentially disrupt your PC.

Now, you'll see a message in Windows Update saying that the next feature update is ready for you, with a button to download and install it. Checking for updates will no longer force you to install the latest version. Windows 10 will still automatically install new feature updates if your version is nearing the end of support.

The new download and install option isn't just coming in Windows 10 version 1903. By the end of May, the option will also be available in versions 1803 and 1809. Checking for updates will still get you your cumulative updates.

Microsoft is also extending the ability to pause updates, and this one applies to all updates. You'll be able to pause updates for up to 35 days. You can do it for seven days at a time, and up to five times. What's interesting is that this actually applies to all versions of Windows 10, including Windows 10 Home.

There are also changes that are coming to active hours, which allows users to set a time that they frequently use their PC so updates don't automatically install. You'll now be able to set intelligent active hours, where your PC will determine when you're likely to use it, and set active hours automatically.

Obviously, there's a big focus on making sure that what happened six months ago with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update doesn't happen again. Part of that is the obvious major bugs, and the other part is the fact that Microsoft pushed the update on users. There's going to be a new Windows release health dashboard, which will provide information on a update's rollout status and known issues.

But it's clear that Microsoft is making a lot of changes here, giving the Windows 10 May 2019 Update a full month of testing in the Release Preview ring and changing the way it's delivered. The update will be available in Release Preview next week, and Microsoft will provide cumulative updates on it for the month that it's in testing.

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