What Does "Defer Upgrades"ť in Windows 10 Mean?
Your Windows 10 system may have a "Defer upgrades" option for Windows Update. This option delays feature upgrades for several months while allowing security updates through.
Enabling this option puts your Windows 10 PC on the "Current branch for business." It’s intended for business users who want to wait a bit longer before getting new features on their PCs.
Microsoft explains the "Defer upgrades" option in this way:
"Some Windows 10 editions let you defer upgrades to your PC. When you defer upgrades, new Windows features won’t be downloaded or installed for several months. Deferring upgrades doesn’t affect security updates. Note that deferring upgrades will prevent you from getting the latest Windows features as soon as they’re available."
That provides some idea of what’s going on, but isn’t very specific.
Which Windows 10 Editions Can Defer Upgrades?
The Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 all have the "Defer upgrades" option. Windows 10 Home - the standard version of Windows 10 you’ll get on most new PCs - does not have this option. If you do really want this option, however, you can pay $99 to upgrade your Windows 10 Home PC to a Windows 10 Professional PC.
Note that the Professional edition of Windows 10 doesn’t actually use this option by default - you’ll still have to enable it yourself.
Which Upgrades Are Deferred?
Windows 10 is updated in a different way from previous versions of Windows. Both Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Professional will automatically install the latest security updates - there’s no option to disable Windows Update.
Microsoft will also be releasing feature updates for Windows 10 rather than holding back new features for the next version of WIndows. When these are released, they’ll first be tested by people who have signed up to test new builds of Windows as "Windows Insiders." After they’re tested, they’ll be made available on Windows Update, where they’ll be automatically downloaded by Windows 10 in the same way security updates are.
Some businesses don’t want new features to suddenly appear on their PCs before they’ve been able to be tested, so clicking "Defer upgrades" will delay only feature upgrades. You’ll still get security updates automatically.
How Long Can Feature Upgrades Be Delayed?
Feature upgrades can only be delayed several months. It’s unclear exactly how many months these upgrades will be deferred for. But it is clear that you can’t defer these upgrades indefinitely.
After several months, Windows Update will automatically download the new feature update and install it. Microsoft will also stop producing security updates that can be installed on that old "build" of Windows, requiring you to install the feature update to keep getting security updates.