Microsoft has announced a plan to improve the Windows 10 'update experience', following the epic disaster that was the release of the company's Windows 10 October 2018 Update.

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update, announced back in September, was the second of the company's biannual feature updates for the year just gone. In it, the company pledged, would be a smattering of new features, including a dark mode for the file manager, improvements to the Edge web browser it has since announced it is ditching in favour of a Chromium-based replacement, an updated Xbox Game Bar, new productivity features, and a cloud-powered shared clipboard.

Sadly, despite months of beta testing through the Windows Insider programme, Windows 10 October 2018 Update turned out to have more than a few glitches still to iron out when it first launched on October 3rd 2018. 'First launched', because after a serious data-loss bug and numerous other glitches which were being discovered all the way through to the end of November, the update was pulled from distribution.

Now, Mike Fortin, Microsoft's corporate vice president for the Windows operating system, has pledged to improve things ahead of 2019's first feature update this May. 'In previous Windows 10 feature update rollouts, the update installation was automatically initiated on a device once our data gave us confidence that device would have a great update experience,' Fortin explains. 'Beginning with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, users will be more in control of initiating the feature OS update. We will provide notification that an update is available and recommended based on our data, but it will be largely up to the user to initiate when the update occurs.

'When Windows 10 devices are at, or will soon reach, end of service, Windows update will continue to automatically initiate a feature update; keeping machines supported and receiving monthly updates is critical to device security and ecosystem health. We are adding new features that will empower users with control and transparency around when updates are installed. In fact, all customers will now have the ability to explicitly choose if they want to update their device when they "check for updates" or to pause updates for up to 35 days.

'We are taking further steps to be confident in the quality of the May 2019 Update. We will increase the amount of time that the May 2019 Update spends in the Release Preview phase, and we will work closely with ecosystem partners during this phase to proactively obtain more early feedback about this release. This will give us additional signals to detect issues before broader deployment. We are also continuing to make significant new investments in machine learning (ML) technology to both detect high-impact issues efficiently at scale and further evolve how we intelligently select devices that will have a smooth update experience.'

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update is scheduled to be made available in the Windows Insider programme's Release Preview Ring next week, Fortin has confirmed, though given the number of reports that the data-loss bug which hit the October 2018 Update were communicated to Microsoft through the programme well before the public launch it's not clear how much difference any resulting feedback will actually make to the release - despite a claim of new 'natural language processing and machine learning' features to better detect 'all types of low-volume high-severity issues [especially] in the area of data loss'.

Other improvements promised by Fortin include a new 'Download and install now' option in Windows Update, an extended delay for both feature and monthly Patch Tuesday updates for up to 35 days, improved intelligence for the detection of 'active hours' when updates should not be automatically installed, and 'improved update orchestration' for better system responsiveness.

More details are available in the Windows Blog post.

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