Deferring Updates in Windows 10 Pro Version 2004 (Build 19041.264)

Windows May 29, 2020
📝Updated (23/10/2020)

I was essentially forced to update to version 2004 of Windows 10 Pro (which was officially released to the public yesterday) on my desktop PC, where as normally I'd leave a feature update to fester for three months using the update deferral options that used to be in the settings app. The 'Choose when to install updates' option allowed you to defer feature updates for a year and quality updates for up to a month, which is usually a good idea given Microsoft's history of releasing bug-riddled updates that have been known to break things quite spectacularly.

Despite having no real issues after doing the update I did notice the option to defer updates had vanished from the settings app. Now this has actually happened before, I think with version 1903, in which the two options would disappear if they were set. If they weren't set the options would still be visible but as soon as you changed the default values from zero they would then vanish. Once they were gone you could only alter the values using the registry (and changing them back to zero made the options reappear). This was apparently a UI bug as it got fixed some time later in a cumulative update.

This time though I suspect the change is very much deliberate and quite possibly permanent. I could be (and hopefully am) wrong of course, but never fear because you can still set the options, you just have to use the Local Group Policy Editor. Yea, that old chestnut. If you open it (type gpedit in the taskbar search box and press enter) and then click on in this order: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business, you'll be presented with the two policies you need; Select when Preview Builds and Feature Updates are received and Select when Quality Updates are received which when opened provide you with the same functionality that existed before in the settings app.

LGPE Saves the day.

By default they're not configured but if you enable them you can change the number of days you want to defer the updates for, though the maximum limits still apply; up to 365 days for feature updates and only 30 days for quality updates. Also make sure you have the correct 'readiness' level selected in the feature update setting (the 'Semi-Annual Channel' is the one most people will need to be on). It's a bit more convoluted than how you used to be able to do it but at least you can still do it, which really begs the question as to why Microsoft removed the options from the settings app in the first place. It wasn't doing any harm being there, was it?


Update (23/10/2020):

Apparently they thought it was doing harm. The change was deliberate:

Last year, we changed update installation policies for Windows 10 to only target devices running a feature update version that is nearing end of service. As a result, many devices are only updating once a year. To enable all devices to make the most of this policy change, and to prevent confusion, we have removed deferrals from the Windows Update settings Advanced Options page starting on Windows 10, version 2004.

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