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Why Haven’t I Received the Latest Windows 10 Update?

In recent weeks, there’s been much discussion about Windows 10 version 1903. It was available for some, and not others, then perhaps delayed, then perhaps not.

On top of that, I’ve been asked both how to get it and how to avoid it.

Microsoft continues their unblemished track record of releasing some very blemished Windows 10 updates.

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What happened with 1903

As I understand it, shortly after it was released, a bug was discovered that could result in drive letters being randomly reassigned after the update was installed.

This was particularly problematic if you had external drives connected. A drive that used to be “D:” would now be “F:”, and so on. The programs expecting the drive to be D: would now fail, since that drive had apparently moved.

Worse, the reassignment could happen to internal drives as well. I suspect, but cannot confirm, that the system drive wouldn’t be affected, but perhaps additional internal drives could be.

Windows 10 Version 1809When this was discovered, Microsoft halted the rollout…

… or they at least halted it for machines that had additional drives connected. The press, of course, jumped on this as “Microsoft halts update for machines with USB drives connected.” Technically accurate, but more inflammatory than helpful.

As I write this, the rollout remains in this state.

Getting the next version

If you don’t have the next version of Windows 10, whatever it may be, and for some reason you can’t wait to get it, your options are few.

You can run Windows Update and see if it arrives. In the case of 1903, you might try disconnecting your external drives first to increase the odds. (Though I’ve not heard if the drives will be assigned new, different, drive letters when you reconnect them after a successful update. Proceed with caution.)

Naturally, you should protect yourself beforehand with a full image backup, in case the result is something you can’t live with.

If you don’t get the update this way, all I can recommend is patience as you wait for Microsoft to fix whatever is delaying the update and make it available more broadly.

For the record, I have yet to see 1903 myself, across multiple different machines both with and without additional drives.

Avoiding the next version

Avoiding the next version of Windows 10 remains a bit of a problem.

If you’re on Windows 10 Pro, you can “pause” feature updates in the Windows Update section of the settings app. It’s not permanent, but it does buy you up to 35 days before the update is required.

If you’re running Windows 10 Home, you can attempt to disable Windows Update, but that technique has a simple problem: it seems to undo itself after “a while”. If you’re not vigilant, you could end up with the update anyway.

How did this happen?

In the case of 1903, it’s fairly obvious Microsoft screwed up big time. It’s not the first time, though, and sadly, probably won’t be the last.

Exactly how this happened is unknown. More specifically, unless they’re Microsoft, anyone who claims to know how this happened is merely speculating. They’re guessing — or worse, they’re making it up.

While I sympathize with the immense complexity of Windows 10 and how big a problem this is to solve, it seems like a horrifically obvious oversight. I would have expected the insider’s program, Microsoft’s external beta-testing program, to have caught it if nothing else.

But exactly what happened is anyone’s guess.

And, honestly, it really doesn’t matter to you and me. It is what it is, and we’re left to deal with the results.

What next?

I assume Microsoft is working to fix the issue.

I hope they’re working to test the fix well before it makes it into the public release.

I further hope that they’re working to fix the process that allowed this kind of problem (and, to be honest, others like it in the past) from happening again. We deserve better.

As for you and me, my recommendations haven’t changed at all.

  1. Keep your machine as up to date as possible. Leave Windows Update enabled and let it do its job.
  2. Be patient waiting for updates.
  3. Back up. Specifically, make sure to perform regular full image backups. Should a Windows Update — or anything else — cause you a problem, you’ll be able to revert to the backup image to undo the damage.
  4. Continue to be skeptical when it comes to news and other related reports on this and related issues. Stick to sources you know you can trust.

A final note

Talking about Microsoft’s failings — particularly with respect to Windows 10 — always brings out lots of commentary.

Keep it respectful, is all I ask.

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32 comments on “Why Haven’t I Received the Latest Windows 10 Update?”

  1. I have 3 Win 10 Pro devices, 2 that are running 1809 and my desktop, which I’m writing this on, which is still running 1803. I have all of my devices set to “Semi-Annual Channel”, “feature updates” deferred for 40 days and “quality updates” deferred for 14 days. These settings seem to have kept my bacon out of the fire so far. Which brings me to my next point: Leo wrote “If you’re on Windows 10 Pro, you can “pause” feature updates in the Windows Update section of the settings app. It’s not permanent, but it does buy you up to 35 days before the update is required.” Under the “advanced ” settings in the Update section, it reads “You may defer feature updates for this many days” and displays a dropdown box that goes all the way up to 365, not 35. “Quality updates,” however, may be deferred for only 30 days.

  2. I just upgraded to 1809 manually for the simple fact Windows update never offered it up…not sure why…any thoughts? And yes Leo I made an image prior to updating! I knew about the issues with 1903 and have adjusted my W10 pro machines accordingly. I concur with Harry The D about the drop down, it does indeed go to 365 days…

  3. My laptop tried to update but it failed. It kept trying and the result was a HD running at 100%, and left the laptop unusable until I found the reason.
    I had to block the updates to fix it.
    Anyone else?

  4. It looks like serious failures after Windows updates are still happening.
    I still remember the awful damage, namely a computer failing to restart after a Windows 7 update more than one year ago …
    Leo is right, we DO deserve better !
    Honestly ? I almost feel better with the knowledge that Windows 7 will soon stop to receive updates … however cynical this may sound …
    Since that big failure, I can only pray for each monthly update to go smoothly …
    I seriously believe that all the security reasons invoked for which OS updates are strictly necessary each and every month are much less dangerous
    for most users than these unbelievable MS flaws that could bring your machine entirely down.

      • …but not all of us have the financial wherewithal to purchase multiple external drives to store the images.

        Frankly, I’m getting close to the stage of switching to a version of Linux. Linux Lite is really looking like a goer from my perspective.

        • Unfortunately Windows is a defected product that requires frequent back up. Your option is either to avoid Windows at all, or to pay an additional cost for the external storage devices.

          • I use Mint on a couple of my PCs, it’s something I feel I should have as backup to using Windows but it’s also really confusing reading type sudo this and that and things I expect patches to fix without a degree in computer science and even then the Firefox has been a deprecated version made specially for Mint…I have a 15 year old copy of Word Perfect that outshines LibreOffice and Office IMO and I don’t have to send docs online, I am pretty simple and make cards, budgets and other useful things (CD and cassette inserts, even the stuff for 8 track tapes) and WP 11 works well for that. And I have tested it on 1809 and it still works okay, that wasn’t the case two-three years ago.

            I first used computers in 1978 at the age of twelve, my school district had money to pioneer, even if it was only TRS-80.

        • Cut it out! For simple back-up purposes, a decent spinning hard drive can be bought for $35. If that is beyond your “resources,” wire me and will give you the money.

          • Not in New Zealand it can’t… unless it is a rather well used second hand job. OK, more like a flogged to death p.o.s.

            And I most certainly wouldn’t be asking someone I don’t know for money. Because that is me, and yes there are others who would beg for money instead of flogging off their (insert overpriced bling/toy/whatever here)

  5. Hi, I tried to update to 1809 my Intel Compute Stick 32 bits and everything went bad, it rendered the Stick useless, I had to reinstall win 10 from scratch, which was not easy but I finally did it. I don’t know why but when I downloaded a new image from Microsoft it was 1511, I only realized that once win 10 was installed and operable. I then tried once again to install the 1809 update via Windows Update, but it stalled at 17% when the computer was restarted. I left it that way for many hours but nothing happened, finally I had to cut it off. Once I started the Stick again it went into: Reverting changes made… that also stalled for hours, no matter if I turned it off and on again it went into that same state and nothing happened. So I decided to fix it with my USB win 10 image, it started working and at one moment a window appeared saying that an important update was due, to choose whether to go on with what I was doing or stop. I chose to stop and on the next boot it reverted the changes and finally windows 10 1511 came on. So I don’t know what will happen with 1903.

  6. I think you may be mistaken Leo!
    I don’t believe 1903 has been generally available to anyone who hasn’t asked to test it by being on the ‘Insider’ test program.
    I have two systems running 1903 as I’m a ‘Microsoft Insider’ who’s running on the “slow channel” and it’s worked fine for me on an old Toshiba Laptop [from 2007] and an Asus Netbook [from 2016].
    Although it was planned for release in April, testing by ‘Insider’s’ indicated some problems which have delayed its general introduction and the change of name from ‘April Update’ to ‘May Update’.
    It looks good enough fro me to be patiently waiting for offilcial release so as to install it on my main desktop, my wife’s video system and my father’s ‘main’ PC, all currently running WIndoiws 7 Home.


  7. “I would have expected the insider’s program, Microsoft’s external beta-testing program, to have caught it if nothing else”.
    Leo, that’s one wild and unrealistic expectation, and that’s been demonstrated many times over. This is no “speculation”. Why would anyone not getting paid to do a job and not subject to dismissal expend the tremendous effort required to find and report bugs reliably. Leo, you worked at MS, so think back about how the testing groups worked and what information they provided so developers could fix bugs. The task isn’t trivial. When MS replaces employee test engineers with millions of unpaid hackers with no responsibility, you should expected problems. In case you didn’t know, there are no qualifications to be a MS insider and minors (children) are welcome. I think it’s time you stop making apologies and excuses for MS.

    • I don’t believe I’m making apologies — they should have done better. Period.

      Indeed, the task isn’t trivial. But this particular issue (drive letter re-assignment) is so incredibly obvious, or so it appears, that I’m shocked that someone, somewhere, didn’t run into it at some point — be it formal testers, insiders, or the developers themselves.

      • Formal testers are tasked with testing critical areas of code and could easily miss or ignore a drive letter change (I’ve see that on previous Windows versions – who knows why). If they’re not juggling multiple drives the problem may never show. As for the millions of insiders, MS says they can submit problem reports as messages, emails, videos, code, etc. Consider the effort of having to understand, filter and prioritize all this information. Chances are people did report it, but they got buried. Of course, there’s the situation when a know bug is released to gauge the impact (yes, this is speculation for this issue, but it happens).

        • That’s not true. Windows stores external drive letters, there should be test cases written to verify the stored drive letters without having an external drive connected. If not, it proves Microsoft did a poor job, no excuses thank you.

  8. I belong to the Insider Program and received the latest update. I have three external hard drives 2 x 1Tb and 1 500Gb. Unfortunately, my system wouldn’t reboot as there was no MBR. I found that the system would boot if I disabled all external hard drives. I had to do a system restore from my backup drive to get the system stable again. I have now disabled Insider Program Updates for the maximum periods of time and using the calendar function on my Android phone to advise me the day prior to the expiry so that I don’t forget to disable the Insider Updates for the maximum period again. Does anyone know how I can opt out of the Insider Program ? I have a valid Windows 10 activation code.

  9. I have had trouble last year and exactly one year later getting win 10 updated. It starts by saying that I need to update but it also shows it is updating in the back ground..then I get notifications that if I don’t get the lastest update that windows will stop working.. Sure enough ,it stops working and I have to take it to the repair shop. I am not tech savvy,as you might guess,has anyone else had this problem? I have also been sent a message that I need to buy a new microsoft key and my friends say they have never received a message like this and my laptop is a HP,,I am ready to throw it away..

    • While I do have a laptop, given to me by brother in law {removed}, my “real” computer is a tower. Having been burnt previously, ala 3.1, 3.11, XP and 7 I learnt early on that my “data” was the crucial element. So it is ALWAYS on a separate drive from the operating system. Use jellybean to record, and store on data drive the code should I need to install Win 10 again. As I only use about 17 applications reinstalling, which touch wood I haven’t had to do so far since installing Win 10, isn’t such a big issue.

      So totally got past the oooh, look at this program I have to try this and see how good (or bad) it is.

      So, so far, life with Win 10 has been a breeze. And having said that I’ve probably put a hex on the machine… lol

  10. I have 2 Windows 10 Pro machines and I postponed the 1809 update for nearly a year on both of them…then one weekend when I was out of town,the “update” was installed on both of them…The reason I had postponed this update is that it broke Outlook on both machines….giving me the BSOD every time I launched Outlook….After this much time,I assumed,INCORRECTLY,that Microsoft had fixed this problem as it was a widespread issue as best as I can tell from online forums..I was hoping that at least the 1903 update would address this problem…NOW I find out that the new “update” causes more problems…I have not been offered the 1903 update on either of my machines yet.I hope Microsoft gets their act together soon….Evidently they are using some pretty useless programmers these days and I am tired of being their testers….I STILL cannot use Microsoft Outlook for my e-mail and have had to start using a free e-mail client called mailbird which I don`t like nearly as well as Outlook…WHICH I PAID MONEY FOR!!! Microsoft..are you listening????No wonder people are going to Linux in droves.

    • Rather than taking it as am update, I would actually reinstall Windows, and then reinstall office (I assume this is Microsoft Office Outlook we’re talking about). The clean install of both often clears up issues like this. ALSO if this is an older version of outlook (like 2003) it may no longer be supported.

  11. I didn’t even get the last major update (1809) as that was pulled and when they restarted it, it never got to me. I think MS have created a monster they can no longer control.

  12. I was going to buy a Windows 10.
    Well, I will keep my old Windows 7, even though there will be no more update starting in 2020.
    What a shame that we are forced to endure inferior products since we are forced to use computers in order to stay current with the world.

  13. I am running Win 10 Home. Wanted 1903 because you can ‘control’ when updates happen and I read it was faster. I did an update to 1903 from 1809 on 5/30/19. It was on a Lenovo S21 with an internal SSD drive of 32gig and an SSD chip drive of 64gig. It did a system check before starting and said everything was up to snuff. After 20 minutes of downloads and processing I got a “Something is Wrong” message. Clicked the link to the MS website to get more info it said Win 10-1903 has a problem with external storage devices and their drive labels. MS said I can wait for them to fix this, or remove the SSD chip. So I removed it. Since the core SSD had only 10gig free the updated failed even though at the start it said everything was OK
    Still waiting….

    • That external storage device problem has supposedly been fixed, from what I’ve heard. (There are a couple of other glitches, but they’ve built checks for those into the installer so it won’t try in those cases.)

  14. Leo –

    Hi. On my Windows 10 Home PC, I’m still running version 1909. When version 2004 was offered to me earlier this year via Windows Update, I elected to defer. Then before version 20H2 became available several months ago, I wanted to install version 2004 – but for some reason it was no longer offered to me. Currently, version 2004 still isn’t available to me via Windows Update, but version 20H2 is.

    I have a few questions I hope you can answer:

    1. Even though version 20H2 is out now, the preceding version 2004 should still be available for download — correct?

    2. Should I continue to wait for version 2004 to be made available to me again via Windows Update (I understand it’s supported through May 2021), or should I try to download it now through some other avenue? If the latter, what would that other avenue be?

    3. Is there any problem going from version 1909 directly to version 20H2 (and skipping intermediate version 2004)? I would prefer not to do this.

    4. Any idea why version 2004 is unavailable to me now when it was available earlier on? I haven’t changed any of my hardware or software (but maybe Windows Update did).



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