How to prepare for the Microsoft Windows 10 1903 security feature update

Microsoft is changing the way it does Windows 10 feature updates, and that will affect how you schedule update deferrals. Here's what you need to know.

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In May, Microsoft is expected to release the next Windows 10 feature update, known as 1903. I’m getting ready for it by making sure I have the downloads and deferrals in place so I can install it when I want to install it. Changes that Microsoft is making regarding feature release dates might mean rethinking how you manage update deferrals.

While I’m a fan of Microsoft’s Windows 10 “Windows as a service” process that eliminates waiting for massive service packs, I don’t want to leave it to Microsoft to deem my systems ready for the update release. Microsoft should be commended for making necessary adjustments to deferrals and support windows, but it is confusing to keep track of feature update releases, their issues and what third-party programs they don’t support.

Recently, Microsoft has been providing more information about blocking issues that impact the roll out of feature releases. With Windows 10 1809, you can track the blocking issues at KB4464619. You’ll want to review the additional information you can obtain at all the Windows 10 update history pages as noted in this blog.

If you’ve been waiting until Microsoft declares a feature release “ready for business,” be aware that with the upcoming 1903 release Microsoft will no longer use the Semi-Annual Channel Targeted (SAC-T)  or Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) designations. SAC-T indicated an early-stage feature release. When Microsoft deemed that vendor support was broad enough, they declared the release SAC.

If you had set your deferral settings to install feature releases after they were declared SAC, then the Microsoft update offered them to your machines if Windows Server Update Service (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or a third-party patching tools did not manage your updates. As recently announced, Microsoft will no longer use the SAC-T and SAC designations. Instead, there will be one release date starting with 1903, and you can set deferrals from that date forward if you use Windows Update for business settings to defer feature releases.

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