Windows 10's Creators Update may nerf a workaround to mandatory updates

Microsoft now reserves the right to force critical patches to Windows 10 PCs over metered connections.

IDG

IDG

Windows 10 Home users may soon lose some of their already limited ability to prevent Microsoft from forcing automatic system updates on their PCs.

While there’s no official way to prevent updates in Windows 10 Home, a workaround is to mark your Wi-Fi connection as metered. The Windows Insider Preview Build 15058 released on Tuesday reduces the effectiveness of that workaround, as WinSuperSite recently spotted.

In build 15058, heading to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update reveals the following note: “We’ll automatically download and install updates, except on metered connections (where charges may apply). In that case, we’ll automatically download only those updates required to keep Windows running smoothly.”

That last sentence, where Microsoft says it will automatically download updates to keep “Windows running smoothly,” is absent in the current version of Windows 10. Microsoft told WinSuperSite it made the change so that it has the ability force critical update patches if necessary. “We don’t plan to send large updates over metered connections, but could use this for critical fixes if needed in the future,” Microsoft said.

Marking a connection as metered is the only way for Windows 10 Home users to prevent Windows from updating. In general it’s advisable for most users to have automatic updates turned on. Yet some users with unusual hardware configurations may want to prevent system updates to avoid any potential conflicts.

Others prefer to download updates on a delayed schedule so that if any problems pop up they can wait for Microsoft to release a fix. If you think that’s overkill, consider the Windows 10 Anniversary Update's slew of nasty bugs, or this tale of woe over at How-To-Geek, where Chris Hoffman complains about Windows 10's automatic updates breaking his PC mere days ago.

The impact on you at home: The metered connection setting was never meant as a tool for users to prevent Microsoft from downloading automatic updates. Instead, it was intended to avoid large automatic downloads in order to prevent Windows 10 updates from blowing through a user’s bandwidth cap. Nevertheless, many people who dislike Windows 10's mandatory updates took advantage of the loophole. Now that loophole is closing, if only just a little bit.

The good news is that while Microsoft is taking a little bit away from Wi-Fi metered connections—assuming this change makes the final cut for the upcoming Creator’s Update—the company is also giving back. The new metered connections settings in build 15058 also allow users to set a wired Ethernet connection as metered, while the current version of Windows 10 allows this for Wi-Fi connections only.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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