MS to Force Win10 Update, Regardless of Settings

John Lister's picture

Microsoft will forcibly upgrade some Windows 10 computers, even where automatic updates are switched off. The upgrade is between Windows 10 editions rather than to Windows 11.

The move is designed to reduce the number of machines running unsupported editions of Windows 10, something that could increase security risks as well as mean more people experiencing performance problems.

In simple terms, Windows 10 gets two major updates each year and Microsoft usually supports the three most recent. Put another way, the longest users can go at a time without getting the latest update but still remaining supported is 18 months.

That means this coming May is the end of the line for version 20H2 (released in late 2020). Machines with automatic updates should have replaced that last year, while users who manually check for updates will be able to replace it at any time with the latest version. (Source:

Auto-Update Overrides User Settings

However, Microsoft now says it's automatically updating some older machines:

"We also started the first phase in our rollout for machine learning (ML) training, targeting devices on Windows 10, version 20H2 that are approaching end of servicing to update automatically to Windows 10, version 21H2. We will continue to train our machine learning model through all phases to intelligently rollout new versions of Windows 10, and deliver a smooth update experience." (Source:

This certainly makes sense for cases where users don't know or care about updates but somehow have their machine set to manual updates only. It's bad news for users who have no interest in updating at all and don't care about support.

It's also bad news for users who want to run a supported edition, but intentionally avoid the latest available edition for fear of bugs that haven't yet been rectified. Tactics such as using manual updates to intentionally run "one edition behind" could be disrupted by this move.

Machine Learning Mystery

Microsoft hasn't detailed what the "machine learning" involves, but it's presumably more sophisticated than simply looking for outdated machines. Possible criteria for targeting devices for an automatic (unsolicited) update include: how at risk they are from specific security threats; how likely the upgrade is to cause compatibility problems, and whether the update history suggests the user is making deliberate decisions on when and how to upgrade.

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a smart move by Microsoft? Is it more important to reduce the number of machines running outdated editions without the user realizing? Or should Microsoft never update Windows unless the user (either manually or through automated settings) approves it?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I prefer to force the update manually (if it hasn't already) before the end-of-life deadline approaches. I'm surprised in this case Microsoft is forcing the update, but I understand that there are varying branches of Windows 10 and you need to maintain an updated branch.

In cases like this, disk images are your friend. Use Macrium Reflect (free) to backup your operating system prior to the upgrade, then use the media creation tool to download the latest edition in ISO format. Once download is complete, use imdisk to mount the ISO and run the latest Windows 10 installer and force the upgrade yourself. If something goes wrong, roll back to the previous edition with your disk image backup.

At this point you may need to reinstall Windows cleanly if the update fails, but it's better to find out at this point (when you're prepared) versus when your machine is forced to update, fails, and you can't get back into Windows because it booted into a black screen (for example).

buzzallnight's picture

Win 7 :)

and my Motorola Surfboard router!!!!!

kevinb478's picture

I've had my computer I built about 3 or 4 years ago but it will not run windows 11 cause according to the windows pc health check I don't have TPI or whatever it's called turned on and have no idea as to how to do it motherboard is a H370 aorus gaming 4 wifi or of it's possible really don't have the money to build a new system or buy a new board if that's the case

nate04pa's picture

Kevin, you can go to the motherboard manufacturer's website for help with getting the board set up0 to run Windows 11 if you want to do that.

russoule's picture

Has Microsoft decided that it must be like Android and FORCE updates regardless so all the advertising will be loaded? I use "airplane mode" on both my tablet and my cell to avoid that Android stuff. Now I have to figure out how to disconnect from the internet every night so Windows doesn't load that sh*t up? What the heck?!?!? Every time Windows "auto updates" on my system, all their crapware downloads again and I must remove it. Are you telling me that all the business systems out there are now going to be forced into the same boat? Maybe its time to check out avaiable UNIX systems for my little usage needs.