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Windows 10 updating

October 31 2018 update: Due to Microsoft's peculiar problems with early updates getting pushed using the "check for updates" procedure, I no longer recommend that clients do this. It is probably OK when not around the Fall or Spring feature updates, but you really don't want to get those early. In fact, it is probably better to wait a month after they are released before doing the feature updates.

Microsoft does standard security updates in the early afternoon of the second Tuesday of each month. When you click the start icon and then the settings icon, they'll offer you an Update and Security option.

Update and Security gives you this window:

If you haven't done it yet, set your active hours. For those of us who leave our computers on all night, this gives us a chance to stop Windows from applying updates while we work. It will only reboot to install updates outside our active hours.

However, the odd thing is, this system does not work. When it says, "You're up to date", you often will not be up to date. For example, I did my security updates on August 14th in the afternoon. On August 21, I checked and got the message above. Then I clicked the Check for updates button above and got this:

I installed this update and then closed all my programs and rebooted.

It was a mitigation for the Intel Spectre attack. In this case it was just issued earlier today, but I've also seen updates that the automatic check just misses. Microsoft is updating on the second Tuesday, but they also update during the month sometimes, so it is good to check once or twice during the month.

Updates to Updates

Sometimes, after you have updated, there are updates to the updates. So checking again after updating sometimes finds more updates to do. In addition, if you have a laptop or other computer you do not leave on, it is even more important to check yourself and make sure the updates get applied. Windows gets weird when updates are half applied and often works on them in the background, slowing down your computer.

Bi-Annual Feature Updates

Twice a year Microsoft has been updating Windows 10 with new features. This creates a version number. The current number is 1803. Notice the update above was for Windows 10 version 1803. The 18 refers to the year, the 03 to the month. So this stands for March 2018, but it didn't get released until April. Odd that. The next version will be 1809 and will be released in September or October this year. I've found that often, these updates do not get applied to some computers. There is no need to jump on them right away, but after a few months, it makes sense to apply them. So, in August after doing security updates for clients, who were still on version 1709, I force checked even when it said we were up to date. In every instance, it "found" 1803 and began the update.

These computers hadn't found the update for 5 months, but did once I clicked check for updates, after doing the updates. Windows needs to be fully up to date with the previous version before applying the feature update. If you are still on 1709 or earlier, do your updates and then check again to install 1803.


A couple times a month, before going to lunch or other time you won't mind closing down and rebooting your computer, check for updates manually, instead of relying only on Microsoft's automatic checking. To make this easier, add an icon on your desktop for Windows Updates and Security.

  1. Right-click an empty spot on your desktop.
  2. Click New
  3. Click Shortcut
  4. Type ms-settings:windowsupdate
  5. Click Next
  6. Give it a good name (like Windows Update)
  7. Press Enter

Further reading

ZDNet article on the new features of Windows 10 version 1809. I found nothing especially useful other than bug fixes.

Date: September 2018

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