Windows 10 has become famous (or perhaps infamous) for installing updates whenever it wants, often getting in the way of what you’re doing. Well, there’s a new update coming soon, and it could mark the last time you have to put up with Windows 10 updating without your OK. The May 2019 update will allow you to postpone Windows updates almost indefinitely.
Microsoft intends Windows updates to make the operating system more powerful and easier to use. However, those automatic updates often change file associations, break apps, and alter basic system features without warning. Microsoft gives enterprises the ability to stage updates, but consumers have been at the whims of Microsoft. That’s key in this new era of “Windows as a service” when Microsoft isn’t bothering to create new distinct versions of the OS. We might be on Windows 10 for the foreseeable future, and the latest update changes will make that a less frustrating experience.
In the next version of Windows (build 1903), the Windows Update screen will get an overhaul with a new section for feature updates. The “Check for updates” button will only apply to security and monthly patches. The feature updates that reset your preferences and break apps will go into a different section, but you don’t have to install them.
Part of the reason for Microsoft’s annoying update policy in Windows 10 thus far has been about keeping your PC secure. It’s not entirely giving up on that, though. According to Microsoft, feature updates are optional going forward, as long as your current build is still supported. So, you can’t run an old version forever, but you can probably skip several years worth of updates or install them at your leisure. When your version of Windows 10 loses support, you’ll be automatically updated to the latest build. So, it’s probably smart to do those incremental feature updates on your own schedule so the version jump isn’t so large at the end.
Microsoft initially wanted to launch this update in April, but it has pushed the general availability to May. Windows Insiders will get the build first, allowing Microsoft to address any bugs in the final build. Hopefully, those bug reporting changes made in the wake of the build 1809 file deletion problems will ensure no one suffers ill effects from what could be their last Windows 10 update for a while.
So, you can’t run an old version forever, but you can probably skip several years worth of updates or install them at your leisure.
Each build gets a year and a half of updates, and other articles state feature updates will be installed when you choose or "when your current build is no longer supported", so at most you can delay it 547 days or so if you're not an enterprise user, up from 365+30 for Pro users on SAT channel. Also, this is just for feature updates, has no effect on the monthly CUs (unless you're a Pro user, then it's up to 30 days) which can wreak their own brand of havoc, and it's still not going to keep Windows updates from removing programs it doesn't like.