Windows 10 was a huge change in the way Microsoft updated its products. Currently, the operating system is considered a “service”, receiving security updates and bug fixes every month, and then adding features every six months. Therefore, we are going to explain in this guide how to update Windows 10 and what kind of updates there are.
Fragmentation is one of the problems that have traditionally affected Windows computers, since there were users who decided to install updates and others who did not. For this reason, Microsoft made updates mandatory in Windows 10, in addition to each biannual update usually going out of support after a year and a half to force users to use the most recent version.
Types of Windows 10 updates
For this reason, Microsoft’s goal is clear: that as many users as possible are running the latest version of the operating system at all times, in addition to reducing to three the versions that they actively support. Thus, we distinguish between two types of updates that Windows users receive each year.
The feature updates ( “Feature updates” in English) are updates biannually (twice a year) that Microsoft launches to include improvements and new features in the operating system. Each update is released in the spring and fall, and it’s easy to tell them apart by name.
When Microsoft is testing them and adding functionality, it assigns a code name to a whole group of builds that they update every week internally for Insiders to test. In the past, for example, 1809 was the Windows 10 October 2018 Update code, but as they are increasingly spaced out, they have decided to change the nomenclature based on the half of the year in which they come out. For example, under the new code, that update would be 18H2. In the case of 2019, the two updates are codenamed 19H1 and 19H2, corresponding to May 2019 Update and November 2019 Update.
Thanks to these names, it is much easier to identify the date that is being talked about when someone refers to an update, instead of using complex nomenclatures like Creators Update that make it more difficult to know when that update was originally released.
In 2019, Microsoft also changed the way it approached these biennial updates. Thus, the first update of the year is the base, and then the second big update of the fall system is a kind of Service Pack that is installed on top of that first big update, reducing compatibility problems and giving more time to test the new functionalities.
The quality updates ( “Quality Updates» English) seek to improve the safety and reliability of the operating system and do not include new features or functionality. These failures may be due to something new that has been discovered (a vulnerability in the system), or a failure caused by Microsoft itself with an update.
These types of updates are cumulative. This means that, if you install an update, and you spend several months without installing any, after that type if you update again, by installing the latest update you will be up to date with all the previous ones. Therefore, the installation of a specific quality update cannot be blocked, since they all come in the same pack.
In addition to these types of updates, there are also others that come to the system separately, as we can see for example in Windows Update itself, among which are, for example, those of Adobe Flash Player or the update of databases Windows Defender with the latest viruses. New drivers or firmware updates can also arrive through this channel, although they are only usually used when an old driver generates compatibility problems or instability in the affected system.
How are updates received in Windows 10?
Windows Update is the main way to receive updates in Windows 10 for consumers, while businesses can use other management services to roll them out to entire computer networks.
The release of updates is also quite uneven depending on your computer. To avoid saturating the servers, Microsoft is releasing the updates in the weeks after making it available to users. Therefore, it may take days, weeks or even months to receive it on your PC if, for example, an incompatibility has been detected with your processor model, SSD or specific files. With the May 2019 Update, for example, the update would not install if you had games with old versions of anti-cheat protections like BattleEye.
When does Windows 10 install updates? Can I delay them? Are there optional?
Microsoft releases cumulative quality updates on the first Tuesday of each month, known as Patch Tuesday . These types of launches are type ” B “. Then, during the third and fourth week of the month, Microsoft releases updates of type “ C ” and “ D ”, which are the previous versions of the update “B” that will arrive the following month. These updates are only for quality and do not include security improvements, so you may only be interested in installing them if the list of changes shows a solution to a bug you have in the system.
Also, updates C and D are not installed automatically, but you have to go manually to Settings – Update and security – Windows Update and click on ” Check for updates “. There, they will appear in a lower tab that says “Optional updates available”, and we can click on ” Download and install now ” so that they are installed if we want, although nothing happens if we do not install them because we will receive them the following month, and less likely to contain errors. A couple of weeks later, we will receive the stable releases on Patch Tuesday.
For this reason, Patch Tuesday, a quality update, it is installed on our PC in the background without us having to do anything, and that happens only once a month, where the updates will be installed the same day of launching it or a few hours later so that all computers are up to date. We can also schedule your installation for a specific time or day, delaying it no more than a few weeks (30 days specifically). In addition, you can program it so that they do not disturb you during working hours.
As for the biannual feature updates, it will depend on Microsoft when it is installed on our computer. If we go to Windows Update, the option to download and install will appear as if it were optional. In the event that it does not reach us at launch, it is possible that there is some incompatibility with our PC. To do this, we can always install it manually through the Media Creation Tool whether or not we have Windows 10 installed, through the Upgrade Tool if we already have Windows 10 installed, downloading the ISO or telling it to update us to the latest version. If none of that works, we must investigate to see what is making the update incompatible with our PC, for which it is advisable to do things like update drivers.
If you do not want to install that version, it may take up to 18 months until you have to install it, since, after 18 months, the versions of Windows 10 no longer have security update support, and it is necessary to jump to subsequent updates.
How to know what updates you have installed
To know what updates we have installed, we just have to go to Settings – Update and security – Windows Update and click on View update history. The updates there are divided into three groups: quality updates, driver updates, and other updates. The latter is where Windows Defender databases are usually updated.
What updates can I uninstall?
To uninstall updates, within Windows Update we have to go to View update history. In there we have a tab called “Uninstall updates.” Within it, we can choose which ones to delete, where we can choose to remove some optional updates (drivers and security for non-Microsoft programs) or even the most recent security updates in case they introduce a compatibility problem in our system.
List of updates for Windows 10
Windows 10 is a service and receives two regular software updates every year. Each of the updates incorporated a series of new features, in addition to correcting problems and closing security holes. That’s the OS update history:
Windows 10, version 1507 – initial release
First stable version of the operating system codenamed Thresold 1 (TH1) that was released on July 29, 2015.
Windows 10, version 1511 – November Update
Within a few months of its release this update arrived. Specifically, it did so on November 12, 2015 with many new features:
- Add column in start menu
- Context menu enhancements
- Edge improvements
- Ability to use Windows 7 and 8.1 key to activate
- New applications
Windows 10, version 1607 – Anniversary Update
Launched on August 2, 2016 with these new features:
- Windows Shared Core (OneCore) enhancements
- Universal Windows Platform or UWP enhancements
- More applications
Windows 10, version 1703 – Creators Update
Update released on April 5, 2017 and known by the internal name of Redstone 2. What’s new:
- Improvements in content creation, productivity, and game functions
- Integration of virtual and augmented reality
- New Paint UWP
Windows 10, version 1709 – Fall Creators Update
The following update was released on October 17, 2017 under the name Redstone 3 and the following new features:
- System configuration now with Cortana and search settings
- UWP application design updated to Fluent Design
- Greater integration with the mobile phone
- My People bar of contacts
Windows 10, version 1803 – April 2018 Update
Officially released on April 30, 2018, this is known as Redstone 4 and includes these new features:
Windows 10, version 1809 – October 2018 Update
Latest version with the internal name of Redstone and, in this case, with the number 5. It was launched on November 13, 2018 with these new features:
- Dark mode in file explorer
- Your telephone
- Improved clipboard
- New Snipping App
- Search improvements
- Improved Edge
Windows 10, version 1903 – May 2019 Update
Released on May 21, 2019, this version has the following new features:
- Windows Sandbox
- Pause Windows Update updates
- New Wallpaper
- New clear theme
- Native support for RAW
- Enhanced apps
- Refurbished Start Menu
Windows 10, version 1909 – November 2019 Update
The first version of Windows 10 that is installed cumulatively over the previous version, being a kind of Service Pack or minor update. In exchange for fewer improvements, we have greater stability. It was launched on November 12, 2019, and its novelties are:
- Calendar events in the Action Center
- Launch menu with drop down panel on mouse over
- New notification panel
- New search bar and redesign of the bars in File Explorer
- Favored Cores – Improved performance by taking advantage of the most powerful cores in a processor
- Choose a third-party voice assistant for the lock screen
- Windows Ink simplified
Windows 10, version 2004 – May 2020 Update
The first major Windows 10 update of 2020, May 2020 Update, was released on May 27, 2020, although with numerous bugs that prevented its installation due to incompatible drivers and other failures. Its most outstanding novelties are:
- Native support for WPA3 and WiFi 6
- Use your PC speakers as Bluetooth speakers with your mobile
- Optional driver updates
- System recovery from the cloud
- Better performance on hard drives and SSDs by changing the Windows Search algorithm
- WSL2: native Linux kernel and performance improvements in Linux
- Cortana as a standalone app
- Better control of network bandwidth
- Windows Hello allows us not to use passwords in Windows 10
- Configure network cameras
- UWP apps with autostart
- The task manager shows the temperature of the GPU and if we have an SSD or hard drive
- Specialized displays: choose not to show desktop on your secondary monitors
- New kaomojis
- DirectX 12 enhancements for games
- More options in virtual desktops
- Better experience of use on tablets and 2-in-1
- Paint, WordPad, and Notepad are now optional
- Change the mouse speed in Settings instead of Control Panel.
Windows 10, version 2009 – October 2020 Update
The second major update for Windows 10 of 2020. October 2020 Update was released on October 20, 2020, with small but necessary changes, among which we find:
- Microsoft Edge installed by default
- Collections in Edge: save and capture the content you see online for later viewing or sharing
- Alt + Tab now includes Edge tabs
- Pin Edge tabs to the taskbar
- Start menu with icons leaving the blue background and color that suits the theme of the system
- Change the monitor refresh rate is now in Settings> System> Display
- Smoother switching between PC mode and tablet mode on convertible devices
- Notifications with an “X” to close them more comfortably
- Custom taskbar when installing Windows 10 from scratch depending on what we use the most or if we have a mobile synchronized