The older versions of Windows 10 grow long in the tooth. Microsoft officially released its last cumulative update for Win10 version 1803 (Home or Pro edition) on November 12th. It is planned to end Win10 version 1809 on May 12th next year. If you are currently running either 1803 or 1809, you should consider switching to the next version, either 1903 or 1909. The good news is that you can control your future version.
If you leave your version migration to Microsoft, you will be pushed, whether ready or not. Fortunately, there are relatively easy ways to do things yourself – yes, even for Win10 home customers.
What version are you running?
First, make sure which version of Win10 you are running. Enter info in the search field below and click on About your PC. Scroll down a bit and you should see a Windows specification area like the one in the screenshot.
Here you can find out which version of Win10 you are currently running and which edition you are using – Home, Pro, Education, Enterprise, Pro for workstations, LTSC or a handful of variants. In general, the instructions here for Pro also include Pro for workstations, education, and business, unless you’re connected to a network with an update server. (If you’re so burdened – privileged – you need to speak to your network administrator to get an upgrade.)
Which version do you want?
Each of the three versions available has important features – and these are not the ones you’ll read about in the documentation:
Version 1809 – By far the most stable version at this point. It has been baked in the wild for almost a year and has had few problems recently, despite a terrible rollout.
Version 1903 – Has been in the last beta test (er, release) for six months and in the nebulous corral “Ready for a broad development” from Microsoft for two months. Every cumulative update still contains enormous number of small corrections, combined with a couple of epic, lingering beetles. However, 1903 offers the most important feature improvement in Win10: the ability for everyone to pause updates. This is a strong incentive for all Win10 users, especially home users, to switch to 1903.
Version 1909 – The minimally invasive “Service Pack” version – Has some own mistakes, mainly in connection with the explorer search, but only available for a few weeks. If you trust Microsoft’s patching ability, there’s no reason to delay the switch to 1909. However, if you want to wait and see what happens, you should wait a few months or more.
If you’re at 1803, you might want to switch to 1809, 1903, or 1909 with some haste.
If you’re at 1809, you can wait to see if Microsoft’s 1903 (and 1909) patches cause further problems before you are forced to jump the ship.
If you are running Win10 Home – either 1803 or 1809 – you want to jump to 1903 most of all. All known and unknown problems with 1903 fade compared to being able to pause updates.
In the past, I and many other experienced Windows victims have recommended that Win10 Home users pay around $ 100 to upgrade to Pro. With Home 1903 (and 1909) and the break update feature, I no longer recommend upgrading to Pro – Home, which should be fine for almost everyone. With Win10 1903 Home you are no longer a beta test guinea pig.
How to update Win10 Pro
If you’re running Win10 Pro (Education, Enterprise, etc.) and want to switch to a later version, learn how to land where you want here.
Step 1. Save
There is a possibility that changing the versions will completely spray your computer or keep your machine tied in automatically installed nodes. Make a full system image backup before embarking on a path.
I have recommended both for a long time Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup. Do not rely on the built-in Windows backup, which goes back to Win7 days and is known to be unreliable.
Step 2. Define the postponement of the feature update
Upgrading from Win10 Pro version 1903 to 1909 is fairly easy. I’ve had recommendations for downloading and installing before Computer world post Office.
Starting with Win10 Pro version 1803 or 1809, it is relatively easy to adapt Windows Update so that it lands on the desired version. Using an administrator account, click Start> Settings> Update & Security. Then click Advanced Options below. See the screenshot.
You will see the same screen regardless of whether you are running Win10 1803 or 1809.
The math is a bit hairy, but you want to set the feature update postponements so that Windows Update lands on the version of your choice.
When you run Win10 1803 and want to move Version 1809Select Semi-Annual Channel and 240 day feature update delay.
When you run Win10 1803 or 1809 and want to move Version 1903Choose Semi-Annual Channel and 180 day feature update delay. At the end you will receive a version of Win10 Pro with the “Download and install now” offer for an upgrade to 1909.
When you run Win10 1803 or 1809 and want to move Version 1909Select “Semiannual Channel” and 10 day postponement of the feature update. Or you can skip the middleman and update it online with the Windows Media Creation Tool. (Yes, the “Windows 10 November 2019 Update” is version 1909.)
“X” from the Windows Update Advanced Options dialog box.
Step 3. Wait
Do not do anything else. In particular, do not click “Check for updates”. Just use your PC as you normally would and possibly turn it off and on again to wake up the upgrade spirit. You may have to wait a day, but sooner or later you will be updated to the version you selected.
There is a small chance that your PC will be proactively locked into an upgrade, usually due to recently discovered incompatibilities with hardware, drivers, and software. These are usually listed on the Release information status page. At least theoretically, you don’t have to go into detail – Microsoft should interrupt the upgrade until your computer has passed the pattern.
How to update Win10 Home
If you are already using Win10 version 1903 Home, you are in good shape. Just avoid clicking on the “Download Now and Install Now” link from 1909 (screenshot) and you will stay with 1903 until the end of time. Or until Microsoft changes its mind.
For those of you using Win10 version 1803 or 1809 Home, there are some additional frames. Note that I strongly recommend upgrading Win10 version 1803 to 1903 and skipping 1809 so that you have access to the new pause refresh feature.
Here’s how to choose the version you get.
Step 1. Save
Just like in the Pro / Education editions, there is a possibility that changing versions will completely spray your computer or keep your computer tied in automatically installed nodes. Make a full system image backup before embarking on a path.
I recommend it again Macrium Reflect Free or EaseUS Todo Backup. Do not rely on the integrated Windows backup, which goes back to Win7 days and is notoriously scaly.
Step 2. Run Windows Update if you can
If you are already on Win10 1903 Homeyou have full access to the “hold updates” function. I talk about the right settings every month the day before Patch Tuesday. (November alarm looks like thatFollow these recommendations and you’ll stay patched without being thrown to the beta test wolves. If you want to switch to Win10 1909 Home, you can click the download and install link.
When you are on Win10 1803 or 1809 at home and moving to Win10 1909 HomeYou can simply remove any update blocks you may have (e.g. set your Internet line to a measured connection) and let Windows Update run. Alternatively, you can use the Windows Media Creation Tool Page and be updated directly.
Step 3. If necessary, install from a saved ISO
The other permutations are not that easy.
- Moving from Win10 1803 Home either 1809 at home or 1903 at home requires the use of an ISO file – an image of a Windows upgrade hard drive.
- Moving from Win10 1809 Home to 1903 at home also requires the use of an ISO file.
There are difficult ways to avoid using ISOs – you can even block the 1909 upgrade manually – but for most people, the ISO approach is already sufficiently complicated.
Step 3a. Get the right ISO
If you from Win10 1803 Home to Win10 1809 Homeyou need an ISO for Win10 version 1809. If you switch from one of the two Win10 1803 or 1809 to Win10 1903 Homeyou need an ISO for Win10 version 1903.
You may already have an ISO in your back pocket. Back in September, I recommended that you download a copy of Win10 version 1903 and cut it in April I recommended that you save a clean copy of Win10 version 1809. These will work.
If you don’t have a clean ISO to work with, Pastebin has a phenomenal AveYo batch program that lets you select and download the official older ISOs (from Microsoft!). Go to AveYo MediaCreationTool site on Pastebin. Click Download in the top right. With an administrator account, right-click on the downloaded MediaCreationTool.bat file and select Run as administrator. You may have to click through the “Windows has protected your PC” screens (click “More Information”, “Run Anyway”), but at the end you have a list of ISOs to choose from (screenshot).
Click on the desired version. It will take a while for Windows to download the package. In the end, however, you will be thrown directly into the Win10 installer as described in step 3b.
Step 3b. Install Windows from the ISO
If you have an ISO file and want to use it to update your version of Win10 Home using an administrator account, double-click the ISO file, right-click setup.exe, and select Run as administrator. The Win10 installer will be activated and will guide you through the process. You have the option to either install cleanly or keep your files and settings (“Choose what to keep”) and install the new version.
Step 4. Reboot
Restart your computer if you have not already been forced to do so and you will run this new version.
You can check if the upgrade was successful by typing info in the search field and looking for the version number.
Remember that you have 10 days (by default) to revert to your previous version of Win10. Just click Start> Settings> Update & Security> Recovery> Return to the previous version of Windows 10.
It’s funny how something so simple – controlling your updated version – has become something so terribly complex.