Win10 Pro and Win10 Pro Version 1511 let everyone push off updates — for weeks or months.
Win10 Home users are mostly out of luck, but a couple of options will still let you take some updating control.
Two safe ways to control Windows 10 updates
As anyone who follows Windows should now know, the task of patching Microsoft's newest OS is a big change from Win7. One aspect of Win10 updating is superior: the updates are cumulative, so you need only the most recent update to get fully patched — handy when setting up a new PC, rebuilding Windows, or upgrading from an older OS.
On the other hand, Win10 — especially the Home edition — offers fewer options than Win7 and Win8 for controlling whether and when updates are installed.
Win10 Home users have very few options for delaying updates. But they can use a trick that's reported in an InfoWorld article — tell Windows that you're on a low-bandwidth, metered Internet connection.
Microsoft knows that there are Windows users accessing the Net via cell-based connection or even dialup. To help prevent big updates from blowing through ISP data caps, Win10 includes the Set as a metered connection option (Settings/Network & Internet/Wi-Fi; note: if your PC doesn't have a wireless adapter, the Wi-Fi menu option won't appear).
A Microsoft FAQ lists what happens under a metered connection, but the main point is that only priority updates will be downloaded. Presumably, “priority” updates are typically security patches.
The better way for Win10 Home users to get more control over updates is to upgrade to the Pro edition. That will let you use Windows' group-policy settings. (To upgrade, click Settings/Update & Security/Activation and click the Go to Store button.) The upgrade will cost you U.S. $99. You'll then have the options discussed below.
Windows 10 Pro users can select the Defer updates option (Settings/Update & Security/Windows Update/Advanced options). That will put off feature updates for some unspecified number of weeks or months (until the next major update) but allow security updates to install immediately. That's better than nothing, but the recent Win10 upgrade adds more.
Managing updates in Windows 10 Professional
Pro versions of Win10 Version 1511 have settings Microsoft calls “Windows update for Business” — but in fact they're merely group-policy settings. Don't let the name fool you — it's possible to delay feature updates even if you're not a business or attached to a domain.
Here's a summary; you'll find additional details on an MS TechNet page.
Starting the group policy console: In Win10 Pro, click Start, enter gpedit.msc, and hit enter. When the editor opens, I always get a Namespace error. According to MS Support article 3077013, you can ignore the message and simply click OK.
Change to 'Current branch for business': In the group-policy editor, navigate to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Update.
The Windows Update section has several adjustments I typically make that aren't related just to Win10. For example, to ensure I don't accidentally install updates upon system shutdown, I enable Do not display 'Install Updates and Shut down.' (You can also set this value via the Registry, as noted in an AskVG blog post.
Enable deferred updates: In Win10 Version 1511, while you're in the Windows Update options, enable the group-policy setting: Defer Upgrades and Updates. That action lets you put off feature upgrades for the next several months or until the next major feature release (or “branch” — Version 1511 was a branch release). The original Win10 RTM (the July release) has similar settings, but they didn't include an option to defer upgrades.
Some Windows Update settings caveats: Note that if you used group policies to turn off telemetry or make updating adjustments, the options within Defer Upgrades and Updates won't function.
These options include the following (see Figure 1):
Defer upgrades for the following duration: “Upgrades” means the large feature/branch releases. They can be delayed for up to eight months, in one-month increments. (For Win10 Pro users, the recent Version 1511 release will become a mandatory upgrade in eight months.)
Defer updates for the following duration: “Updates” include both security updates and cumulative updates. These can be delayed for up to four weeks, in one-week increments.
Pause Upgrades and Updates: This option pauses upgrades and updates until the next monthly upgrade/update release. (The installation of Windows Defender definition updates won't be affected by this setting.)
Defer Upgrades and Updates
According to the deferral information, if Specify intranet Microsoft update service location is enabled, none of above three options will function. Nor will they work if the Allow Telemetry policy is set to Enabled and the Options value is set to 0.
A 4sysops blog and a Microsoft post discuss the Pause Upgrades and Updates option, but it's still not sufficiently explained. For example, it's not clear is how the option interacts with Defer updates …. Does it push updates off for an additional 30 days?
Other important changes in Windows Update
Long-time Windows users will have to remember that, with Win10, there's no Windows Update in the Control Panel — you can access it only via the Start menu's Settings.
Also, to read the Windows Update log, you must open an elevated PowerShell window and run the Get-WindowsUpdateLog -ForceFlush command. That will put a plain-text version of the log on your desktop, as noted in MS Support article 3036646.