All posts by John Cable

Resuming the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update – Windows Experience Blog

In early October, we paused the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update as we investigated isolated reports of users missing files after updating.  We take any case of data loss seriously, and as I noted on October 9, we have thoroughly investigated and resolved all related issues.
In addition to extensive internal validation, we have taken time to closely monitor feedback and diagnostic data from our Windows Insiders and from the millions of devices on the Windows 10 October Update, and we have no further evidence of data loss.  Based on this data, today we are beginning the re-release of the October Update by making it available via media and to advanced users who seek to manually check for updates.
As with all Windows releases, we will continue to carefully study the results, feedback and diagnostic data before we begin offering the update in phases to more devices in the coming weeks and months.
While the April Update had the fastest Windows 10 update rollout velocity, we are taking a more measured approach with the October Update, slowing our rollout to more carefully study device health data. We will offer the October Update to users via Windows Update when data shows your device is ready and you will have a great experience. If we detect that your device may have an issue, such as an application incompatibility, we will not install the update until that issue is resolved, even if you “Check for updates,” so you avoid encountering any known problems. For those advanced users seeking to install the update early by manually using “Check for updates” in settings, know that we are slowly throttling up this availability, while we carefully monitor data and feedback.
We plan to add a Windows update status dashboard in the coming year to provide more information on any issues that lead to update blocks. For this current October Update rollout we will be providing regular updates for notable issues on the public Window 10 update history page.
For our commercial customers, the re-release date of the Windows 10 version 1809 will also be today, November 13, 2018 (this includes Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809). This date marks the revised start of the servicing timeline for the Semi-Annual Channel (“Targeted”) release.  As previously announced and beginning with this release, feature updates that release around September will have a 30-month servicing timeline.  Just as we phase our consumer rollout, we recommend IT administrators begin to validate that apps, devices and infrastructure used by their organization work well with the new release before broadly deploying. Windows 10, version 1809 is now available through Windows Server Update Services, Windows Update for Business and System Center Configuration Manager’s phased deployment.  For additional information please see the latest IT Pro Blog.
Updated November 13, 2018 4:48 pm

Updated version of Windows 10 October 2018 Update released to Windows Insiders – Windows Experience Blog

Last week we paused the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) for all users as we investigated isolated reports of users missing files after updating. Given the serious nature of any data loss, we took the added precaution of pulling all 1809 media across all channels, including Windows Server 2019 and IoT equivalents.  We intentionally start each feature update rollout slowly, closely monitoring feedback before offering the update more broadly.  In this case the update was only available to those who manually clicked on “check for updates” in Windows settings.  At just two days into the rollout when we paused, the number of customers taking the October 2018 Update was limited.  While the reports of actual data loss are few (one one-hundredth of one percent of version 1809 installs), any data loss is serious.
We have fully investigated all reports of data loss, identified and fixed all known issues in the update, and conducted internal validation.  Also, Microsoft Support and our retail stores customer service personnel are available at no charge to help customers. More details are available below.
Today we take the next step towards the re-release of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update by providing the updated version to our Windows Insider community.  We will carefully study the results, feedback, and diagnostic data from our Insiders before taking additional steps towards re-releasing more broadly.
More Information
Prior to re-releasing the October 2018 Update our engineering investigation determined that a very small number of users lost files during the October 2018 Update.  This occurred if Known Folder Redirection (KFR) had been previously enabled, but files remain in the original “old” folder location vs being moved to the new, redirected location.  KFR is the process of redirecting the known folders of Windows including Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Screenshots, Videos, Camera Roll, etc. from the default folder location, c:usersusername, to a new folder location. In previous feedback from the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, users with KFR reported an extra, empty copy of Known Folders on their device.  Based on feedback from users, we introduced code in the October 2018 Update to remove these empty, duplicate known folders.  That change, combined with another change to the update construction sequence, resulted in the deletion of the original “old” folder locations and their content, leaving only the new “active” folder intact.   Accordingly, below are the issues we have identified and fixed:

Using KFR the user redirected a known folder to a different drive. For example, suppose you ran out of space on your C drive. You want to save some files separate from your primary folder, so you add another drive to your system for these.  You create “D:documents” and change the location of the files known folder from the original “old” location c:usersusernamedocuments to D:documents.  In some cases, if the contents of c:usersusernamedocuments were not moved to D:documents, then a user could also encounter this issue.   When the October 2018 Update was installed the original “old” folder was deleted including the files in that folder (in this example c:usersusernamedocuments would be deleted; d:documents, the new location, would be preserved).
The user configured one or more of their Known Folders (Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Screenshots, Videos, Camera Roll, etc.) to be redirected (KFR) to another folder on OneDrive.  For example, the user changed the location property of the documents folder from c:usersusernamedocuments to another folder.   During this process the system prompts the user and asks if they would like to move the files to the new location.  If the files were not moved and the October 2018 Update is installed the original “old” folder was deleted including the files in that folder.
The user used an early version of the OneDrive client and used the OneDrive settings to turn on the Auto save feature.  This feature turned on KFR for the Documents and/or Pictures folders based on the user’s choice but did not move the existing files from the original “old” location to the new location.  For example, if a user turned on Auto Save for pictures the location of the Pictures folder would be changed from c:usersusernamepictures to c:usersusernameonedrivepictures, but no files would be moved.  The current version of this feature moves the files. If the files were not moved and the October 2018 Update was installed the original “old” folder was deleted including the files in that folder (in this example c:usersusernamepictures would be deleted; c:usersusernameonedrivepictures, the new location, would be preserved).

We have fully investigated these issues and developed solutions that resolve all three of these scenarios, so the “original” old folder location and its contents remain intact.
Today, we also released some other fixes in the monthly update for customers who have already taken the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. More details are available in KB 4464330.
Support for affected users
To help our customers that may be impacted by this issue, Microsoft Support is assisting customers and trying to recover data for users who may have experienced related data loss.  Microsoft retail stores support services also offer this same level of support in-store.  While we cannot guarantee the outcome of any file recovery work, if you have manually checked for updates and believe you have an issue with missing files, please minimize your use of the affected device and contact us directly at +1-800-MICROSOFT or find a local number in your area.   For more information, please refer to our Windows 10 update history page (KB article), which we are updating with new information as it is available.
Next Steps
To help us better detect issues like this, today we have enabled a new feature in the Windows Insider Feedback Hub. We have added an ability for users to also provide an indication of impact and severity when filing User Initiated Feedback. We expect this will allow us to better monitor the most impactful issues even when feedback volume is low.
We will continue to closely monitor the update and all related feedback and diagnostic data from our Windows Insider community with the utmost vigilance.  Once we have confirmation that there is no further impact we will move towards an official re-release of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.  We apologize for any impact these issues may have had on any of our customers.  We are committed to learning from this experience and improving our processes and notification systems to help ensure our customers have a positive experience with our update process.

Updated October 9, 2018 2:28 pm

How to get the Windows 10 October 2018 Update – Windows Experience Blog

Earlier today, Yusuf Mehdi announced the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, the newest feature update for Windows 10. I’m excited to share our October 2018 Update rollout plans, how you can get the update today, plus some new update experience enhancements.

As with prior Windows 10 feature rollouts, our goal is to deliver the October 2018 Update in a phased and controlled rollout to provide a great update experience for all. We are beginning the global rollout out via Windows Update in the coming weeks.  As with previous rollouts, we will use real-time feedback and telemetry to update your device when data shows your device is ready and will have a great experience. You don’t have to do anything to get the update; it will roll out automatically to you through Windows Update.
Once the update is downloaded to your device and ready to be installed we’ll notify you.  You are then able to pick a time that won’t disrupt you to finish the installation and reboot.   We are continually working to improve the update experience with each new release of Windows 10.
The last Windows 10 feature update rollout, the April 2018 Update, utilized machine learning (ML) to identify devices that were ready to update, incorporating key attributes like compatibility data. By leveraging machine learning we were able to safely rollout quickly, and as a result the April 2018 Update is now the most widely used version of Windows 10.  Further, our artificial intelligence/ML targeted rollout approach led to the lowest call and online support requests for any release of Windows 10.
With the October 2018 Update, we are expanding our use of machine learning and intelligently selecting devices that our data and feedback predict will have a smooth update experience. We will be further enhancing the performance of our machine learning model by incorporating more device signals such as improved driver telemetry and weighting of key features such as anti-malware software as we broaden the phased rollout. As we did with the April 2018 Update, we will be proactively monitoring all available feedback and update experience data, making the appropriate product updates when we detect issues, and adjusting the rate of rollout as needed to assure all devices have the best possible update experience.

While we encourage you to wait until the update is offered to your device, if you’re an advanced user on an actively serviced version of Windows 10 and would like to install the Windows 10 October 2018 Update now, you can do so by manually checking for updates. In the Search box in the taskbar, type “Check for updates.” Once there, simply click “Check for updates” to begin the download and installation process. We are also streamlining the ability for users who seek to manually check for updates by limiting this to devices with no known key blocking issues, based on our ML model.  If we detect that your device has a compatibility issue, we will not install the update until that issue is resolved, even if you “Check for updates.”  You can also watch this video that outlines how to get the October 2018 Update.

If you’re using a Windows 10 PC at work, you will need to check with your IT administrator for details on your organization’s specific plans to update.
Improving the update experience
We have heard clear feedback that while our users appreciate that updates keep their devices secure, they find the update experience can sometimes be disruptive.  The October Update includes several improvements to the update experience to offer more control and further reduce disruptions.
Intelligent scheduling of update activity: For our many mobile users on laptops and 2-in-1 devices, we have improved Window’s ability to know when a device will not be in use and perform certain update activities then, so as not to disrupt the user. This ability to update at night when plugged in and not on battery power will help hide update activity and minimize user disruption from updates. To further minimize disruption (in case your system is updating overnight), Windows also silences audio when it wakes for Windows Updates.   If your device hasn’t updated for several nights, we will then suggest you plug in your device so that we can update at night.

Intelligent reboot scheduling:  Windows Update will now automatically determine the least disruptive opportunity, outside of Active Hours, and will use an enhanced machine-learning-powered activity check that can determine if a user is going to be away for a while or is only stepping away temporarily.
Faster updates, less down time:  We’ve also made further improvements to the feature update installation process and are targeting to further shorten the amount of time your device is offline during updates by up to 31% compared to the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (based on results from the Windows Insider Program) during the rollout of the October Update.
Smaller downloads:  In the October Update we are introducing a new update package delivery design for monthly quality updates that creates a compact update package for easier and faster deployment.  Users will benefit from the new small update size when installing applicable quality updates as they are 40% more efficient.
Enhanced privacy controls
We continue to focus on putting our customers in control so in the October Update we are enhancing the privacy choice and controls available to users to manage their privacy.  We are now enabling each new account on a device to personally tailor the main privacy settings, instead of only the initial user who sets up the device.   Furthermore, during new device setup, we now offer an activity history page that allows users the opportunity to opt in to sending activity history to Microsoft, to help improve cross device experiences.  This allows users to pick up where they left off in various activities (such as a working on a Word document) on their other devices (Learn more about activity history).
Additionally, we are splitting Inking & typing personalization out from the Speech privacy page.  This enables more granular control of your inking and typing personalization data by managing it separately from your online speech recognition data. Learn more about online speech recognition and inking & typing personalization.

Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) released
For our commercial customers, the release of the Windows 10, version 1809 on October 2, 2018 marks the start of the servicing timeline for the Semi-Annual Channel (“Targeted”) release; and beginning with this release, all future feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions that release around September will have a 30 month servicing timeline.  Just as we’re immediately beginning rolling out the October Update in phases to consumers, we recommend IT administrators do the same within their organizations to validate that apps, devices, and infrastructure used by their organization work well with the new release before broadly deploying. We use data to guide our phased consumer rollout and encourage commercial customers to do the same through Windows Analytics. The update is now available through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Windows Update for Business (WUfB) and System Center Configuration Manager’s (SCCM) phased deployment.  For an overview of what’s new and what’s changed, please see What’s new for IT pros in Windows 10, version 1809.
Continuously evolving Windows 10 and the update experience
We’re excited to bring you the latest Windows 10 Features and improvements and hope that you enjoy the improved update experience.    Please provide us feedback as we continue our journey to evolve the update experience, so that our great new product and security features and other enhancements arrive without disruption.
Updated October 2, 2018 4:40 pm

AI powers Windows 10 April 2018 Update rollout – Windows Experience Blog

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to be a key area of investment for Microsoft, and we’re pleased to announce that for the first time we’ve leveraged AI at scale to greatly improve the quality and reliability of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update rollout.  Our AI approach intelligently selects devices that our feedback data indicate would have a great update experience and offers the April 2018 Update to these devices first.  As our rollout progresses, we continuously collect update experience data and retrain our models to learn which devices will have a positive update experience, and where we may need to wait until we have higher confidence in a great experience.  Our overall rollout objective is for a safe and reliable update, which means we only go as fast as is safe.Early returns are very positive: With over 250 million machines on the April 2018 Update, we are seeing higher satisfaction numbers, fewer known issues, and lower support call volumes compared to previous Windows 10 releases.
Our AI/Machine Learning approach started with a pilot program during the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update rollout.  We studied characteristics of devices that data indicated had a great update experience and trained our model to spot and target those devices.  In our limited trial during the Fall Creators Update rollout, we consistently saw a higher rate of positive update experiences for devices identified using the AI model, with fewer rollbacks, uninstalls, reliability issues, and negative user feedback. For the April 2018 Update rollout, we substantially expanded the scale of AI by developing a robust AI machine learning model to teach the system how to identify the best target devices based on our extensive listening systems.
AI means both safe AND fast
Our AI approach has enabled us to quickly spot issues during deployment of a feature update, and as a result has also allowed us to go faster responsibly.  In fact, the April 2018 Update is officially the fastest version of Windows 10 to reach 250 million devices, achieving that mark in less than half the time it took the Fall Creators Update!
When our AI model, feedback or telemetry data indicate that there may be an issue, we quickly adjust and prevent affected devices from being offered the update until we thoroughly investigate.  Once issues are resolved we proceed again with confidence.  This allows us to throttle the update rollout to customers without them needing to take any action.
In cases where devices already offered the update may see issues, we communicate via our customer service forums to let our customers know what is occurring and actions we are taking.  A recent example from the past month was a black screen/reboot issue we detected within 24 hours of it first appearing. We immediately blocked all PCs that could be impacted by this issue from being updated, and communicated to customers within 24 hours, including an initial work around. In the next 24 hours, in cooperation with Avast, Microsoft identified an element of the Avast Behavior Shield that conflicted with the April 2018 Update. Avast immediately released a fix to prevent this issue from further occurring, enabling us to continue to safely roll out the April 2018 Update to those devices.
Windows 10 continually improving quality
We are also seeing quality improvements in Windows 10, which is approaching 700 million monthly active devices.  Early data shows the quality of the April 2018 Update exceeding earlier versions of Windows 10 in both reliability and performance.  Of course, this work is never done, and we continue to partner to with our hardware and software partners to drive additional performance and reliability improvements in Windows 10.  Improvements in the April 2018 Update include:
20% reduction in system stability issues
20% total reduction in operating system and driver stability issues, in collaboration with our hardware partners, on over 400k ecosystem drivers
Faster updates by reducing the amount of time your device is offline updating by up to 63%(Fun Fact: telemetry shows a U.S.-based PC updated from the Fall Creators Update to the April 2018 update in just over three minutes!)
Edge launch times improved by up to 40-50% (post-logon window)
Our internal customer support teams are seeing a continued reduction in call and online support requests for Windows 10 with the April 2018 Update.  Our OEMs also continue to experience reductions in monthly customer support volumes with this update.
More devices, declining customer support volume:

Windows 10 April 2018 Update (1803) is now fully available
Based on the update quality and reliability we are seeing through our AI approach, we are now expanding the release broadly to make the April 2018 Update (version 1803) fully available for all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide. Full availability is the final phase of our rollout process. You don’t have to do anything to get the update; it will rollout automatically to you through Windows Update.
Enterprise customers can also follow the same targeted approach for the Semi-Annual Channel and fully deploy Windows 10, version 1803 when ready.  IT administrators can decide when to broadly deploy once you have validated the apps, devices, and infrastructure in your organization work well with this release.  For an update overview see What’s new for IT pros in Windows 10, version 1803.  Additionally, you can leverage Windows Analytics tools that help you plan, test and deploy Windows 10 to your organization, and help accelerate Windows 10 migration. You can learn more about Windows Analytics tools and the Semi-Annual Channel releases.
An up-to-date device is the most secure device
The ability to rollout an updated version of Windows 10 safely at massive scale and velocity leveraging AI allows us to ensure the broadest number of customer devices have the latest security, technology and features in the shortest period.  As I’ve noted many times, we’re always actively listening. If you have any feedback, please share it with us via the Feedback Hub app.