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IT takes the good with the bad in Windows 10 1903 update
Windows 10 updates have never been easy, but Microsoft is finally listening to its customers' woes. Here's what IT pros like and dislike about Microsoft's latest Windows 10 update.
A Windows 10 update is rarely met with sunshine and rainbows. The most recent release, Windows 10 version 1903, is perhaps the closest thing to a positive reception that Microsoft has experienced since Windows 10's debut, despite major bugs.
The Windows 10 1903 update added functionality to Windows Autopilot and Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, introduced Windows Sandbox and a featured new UI. IT admins, however, still warn to take the "trust but verify" approach.
'Microsoft is listening to us'
The history of Windows 10 updates is fraught with issues. For example, version 1809 for Windows 10, released in October, resulted in significant data loss, a lack of toast notifications and broken start menu for many end users.
"I'm very happy to see that this update went much smoother than [Windows 10 1809]," said Daniel Beato, director of technology at TNTMAX, an IT consulting company in Wyckoff, N.J. "I think Microsoft is listening to us."
During the debut of Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a continuous update cycle dubbed Windows as a service, which allowed IT to defer but not refuse feature updates. The new update model elicited strong reactions from IT admins that wanted a higher level of control over their desktops' update process. IT pros could delay updates through Group Policy, but only if they were using certain editions of Windows 10 Enterprise, Pro and Education.
William WarrenOwner, Emmanuel Technology Consulting
"The days of staying on the same Windows version for ten years are over," said William Warren, owner of Emmanuel Technology Consulting, an IT services company in Brunswick, Md. "It eventually comes to the point where Microsoft says, 'We will upgrade the software, and you can't do anything about it.'"
The Windows 10 version 1903 update, however, introduces the ability to pause feature and monthly updates from all editions. But IT pros can only delay updates for up to 35 days, and then they are required to update their devices.
"This capability is going to make a lot of people very happy," said Brien Posey, a Microsoft MVP and freelance technical writer. "For admins, having the ability to pause reboots will make it easier to avoid installing updates that may potentially be problematic."
The bad news
Still, the latest update of Windows 10 isn't bug-free. Users have reported losing Wi-Fi connectivity and the ability to connect to Bluetooth devices.
Another issue has cropped up when USB devices, such as a printer or a thumb drive, are connected to a Windows desktop running Windows 1903. The update causes the Windows-assigned drive letters to rearrange. This could result in major issues for some organizations because the removal of the C or D drive causes some systems to not boot, according to Warren.
"There's a fix, but in order to get that fix, you have to install Windows 1903, which is typical Microsoft logic," he said. "What they need to do is build the fix into 1903 and then release it."
Each Windows 10 update has experienced an onslaught of bugs. Many IT experts, including Warren, assert that Microsoft fired a majority of its quality assurance testing team in 2014 amid major layoffs. This left Microsoft customers to fill that role via their Insider rings program.
"With software development, you're not going to get it 100% bug-free," Warren said. "But these major showstoppers need to be caught."
The good news
Some well-received features of the Windows 10 1903 update include Windows Sandbox, which allows IT to locally test application installations without compromising a machine.
"But [users] can do whatever they want in [Windows Sandbox] and then they can just wipe it," TNTMAX's Beato said. "So it's not controllable in a business."
The Windows Subsystem for Linux, which allows IT to run native Linux command line on Windows 10, is an exciting feature, Beato said.
"I can connect to all my devices for Linux and manage them from a Windows machine without downloading Putty or other SSH [Secure Socket Shell] tools," he said.
IT admins should install the Windows 10 1903 update on desktops -- but hold off on rolling it out to servers, Warren said.
"If you don't like it, you can roll back," he said. "I don't think it's going to be that bad of a release, as long as you're ready for the new [UI]."
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