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Microsoft begins Windows 10’s 1809-to-1909 compulsory upgrade

Microsoft has begun forcibly upgrading Windows 10 PCs running version 1809 with the latest, the November 2019 Update, aka 1909, which the company launched less than a month ago.

“We will slowly start the phased process to automatically initiate a feature update for devices running the October 2018 Update (Windows 10, version 1809) Home and Pro editions,” Microsoft said in a Dec. 5 message on Windows 10 1909’s page of the Windows Release Health Dashboard. “We are starting this rollout process several months in advance of the end of service date to provide adequate time for a smooth update process.”

Windows 10 1809 officially “launched” Nov. 13, 2018. On Home and Pro, the version will fall off Microsoft’s support list on May 12, 2020.

So, Microsoft started its automatic 1809-to-1909 upgrades more than five months before the former becomes obsolete. That’s a month earlier than the previous forcible refresh, the 1803-to-1903 upgrade Microsoft kicked off July 17, 2019 – four months ahead of 1803’s Nov. 12 retirement.

The announcement marked the second time Microsoft has taken the upgrade reins since upending its servicing model in April. Then, the company said that those running Windows 10 Home, as well as users running unmanaged devices powered by Windows 10 Pro, would be able to decide when to upgrade from one version of the operating system to another using a “Download and install now” option. Previously, Microsoft held tight control over this process.

Yet Microsoft does not let users perpetually avoid an upgrade. Citing security, it said it would intervene when the current feature upgrade neared end of support by forcing an upgrade. It is that intervention Microsoft has now begun on systems running 1809.

It’s unclear why Microsoft jumpstarted the 1809-to-1909 upgrade a month sooner than the 1803-to-1903 predecessor.

The most obvious reason, although not necessarily accurate, is that Microsoft underestimated the time it would take to push the 1803 crowd to the next year’s version, and so had not wrapped up the previous forced refresh by the Nov. 12 expiration of 1803. That would have left an uncertain number of Home- and Pro-powered systems temporarily cut off from updates, security or otherwise. Measurements by analytics company AdDuplex, for instance, estimated the 1803 portion of Windows 10 overall base at around 14% at the end of October, just two weeks before that version was to vanish from the support list.

Because of the scrambled rollout of 1809, the sooner-than-expected launch of forced upgrades to 1909 may result in some users pushed off the former less than a year after they got it.

Windows 10 1809’s launch was a disaster. Initially begun in early October 2018, distribution was almost immediately suspended when reports of lost data multiplied. Microsoft went back to work on 1809. Although it designated Nov. 12, 2018, as 1809’s official debut, few had it prior to mid-January 2019, when the company began automatically installing it on customers’ PCs, making the upgrade at least three months late.

Those Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro users who were at the front of the 1809 distribution line would also be the most likely to get 1909 off the bat. Microsoft starts upgrade rollouts with the systems it believes most likely to accept them without balking; those are typically the newest machines.

Users can retrieve and install Windows 10 1909 on their own schedule at any time – they don’t have to wait for Microsoft to do it for them – by following the steps outlined in this Nov. 12 post to a Microsoft blog.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Office 365 on Windows 7 gets free patches until 2023

Customers who continue to power PCs with Windows 7 after the operating system’s expiration date will be given one more update to Office 365 ProPlus – the application soul of the subscription service – before shutting down the feature pipeline.

But Office 365 ProPlus – the application stack that’s part of most business plans – will receive security updates long after Windows 7’s retirement on Jan. 14. How long after? Three years after.

The arrangement – “no” to new features but “yes” to vulnerability patches – was unusual enough to upend the typical definition of “support.”

“Office 365 ProPlus won’t be supported on Windows 7 after January 14, 2020,” Microsoft plainly stated in a support document last revised less than two weeks ago.

So, ProPlus is not supported but it will receive patches? Huh?

The contradiction about support is the source of confusion. Most users, whether of Microsoft’s operating system and applications or of any kind of software, hear the word support and equate it with fixes and patches. Software in support receives updates that quash bugs and fix problems, software out of support does not.

Yet Microsoft says that Office 365 ProPlus “won’t be supported” on Windows 7 even though it will continue to deliver security updates to the suite.

Again, what the hell?

First, a bit of background

Normally, when Microsoft axes an operating system – and stops patching its security vulnerabilities – it halts updates to other Microsoft-made software running under that OS at the same time. So, for example, when Microsoft set Windows 7’s end-of-support calendar at Jan. 14, 2020, that meant Office 365 ProPlus – or any Office – would also stop receiving updates then. (It works like this for Microsoft’s browsers, Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge, too.)

But Microsoft upset that cart when it announced Extended Security Updates (ESU) in September 2018. A “last resort” – Microsoft’s words – for commercial customers who would not make the Jan. 14, 2020, deadline for purging Windows 7, ESU would provide Critical- and Important-rated vulnerability patches to out-of-support Windows 7 machines. For a price, of course.

When Microsoft extended Windows 7’s security update support, it also had to extend that of Office 365 ProPlus (or make those Windows 7 PCs worthless for common productivity chores). And remember, customers were paying money to remain in support. And that’s what the company did.

“Office 365 ProPlus will be supported on devices with active Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023,” Jared Spataro, vice president for Microsoft 365, said in a post to a company blog. “This means that customers who purchase the Windows 7 ESU will be able to continue to run Office 365 ProPlus.”

With a few keystrokes, Spataro committed Microsoft to providing patches to Office 365 ProPlus for three years after Windows 7 retirement.

Here’s what is to happen

Microsoft upgrades Office 365 ProPlus, like Windows 10, twice a year, in the late summer (around August) and the late winter or early spring (February or March). But Windows 7 users will get just one in 2020.

“Version 2002 is expected to be the last version of Office 365 ProPlus that will be available for devices running Windows 7 after Windows 7 goes out of support in January 2020,” Microsoft said in the support document.  (As with Windows 10, Microsoft tags Office 365 ProPlus with a four-digit label in the form yymm, so 2002 indicates a February 2020 release.)

Office 365 ProPlus, with its three different “channels” or distribution milestones, will upgrade to 2002 on this timeline, according to Microsoft:

  • Monthly Channel … late February
  • Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) … March
  • Semi-Annual Channel … July

Once Office 365 ProPlus version 2002 is in place on Windows 7 systems, no future upgrades will be allowed onto the machines. Microsoft made that clear. “If you try to install a newer version of Office 365 ProPlus, such as Version 2005, on a device running Windows 7, you will receive an error message,” Microsoft said.

But monthly security updates will keep on coming through January 2023. (That month should be familiar; it’s the end of Windows 7’s ESU program.)

“We’re doing this to give you additional time to make the transition from running Office 365 ProPlus on devices running Windows 7 to a supported operating system, such as Windows 10,” Microsoft said, giving a reason if not necessarily the reason. Left unsaid, naturally, is the fact that once ESU came into existence, Microsoft had to continue patching Office 365 ProPlus, at least for those covered by the pay-for-patches plan.

Even though a specific ProPlus channel is usually available just for 14 months, version 2002 will be accessible to Windows 7 customers for much longer. How much longer? Remember, until January 2023.

“We’re making ((this)) exception just for Version 2002 to align with how long ESU for Windows 7 is available,” Microsoft said, coming clean.

On PCs powered by Windows 7, Office 365 ProPlus will be updated automatically to 2002 if those devices are getting updates directly from Microsoft’s servicing mechanism, Windows Update. If the PC is later migrated to Windows 10, ProPlus will automatically transition to the most recent available version. From that point, the machine will start receiving new feature-and-functionality upgrades, too.

Enterprises that manage ProPlus via, say, WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) or SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) can continue to use their familiar tools.

Microsoft also said that Office 365 Business – the name for the application bundle offered with some subscriptions, including Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business – will be serviced on Windows 7 in the same way as ProPlus.

What about home users?

They, too, will get security updates to their Office 365 applications, according to a different support article Microsoft highlighted.

“As a valuable Office 365 subscriber, we want to continue to provide a stable Office 365 experience,” Microsoft stated on that page. “Even though Windows 7 will no longer be supported after January 2020, we’ve decided to continue to provide you with security updates for Office 365 for the next 3 years, until January 2023.”

You get patches … and you get patches

Everyone running Windows 7 after Jan. 14 will continue to get patches for Office 365’s applications – Word, Excel and the rest – for up to three years. The OS may be out of support (there’s that word again) and at risk from criminal exploitation, but Office itself will be safe.

Although few will look this gift horse in the mouth and object, it’s odd that Microsoft would give away Office security updates when it’s charging for the same thing for Windows 7.

But no one said Microsoft’s moves were logical.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Microsoft to end updates to Windows 7’s free AV software, Security Essentials

Microsoft will not provide new malware signatures for its home-grown Security Essentials software after it retires Windows 7 in five weeks.

“No, your Windows 7 computer is not protected by MSE ((Microsoft Security Essentials)) after January 14, 2020,” the company said in a support document mainly concerned about the Extended Security Updates (ESU) being shilled to enterprises. “MSE is unique to Windows 7 and follows the same lifecycle dates for support.”

Security Essentials, a free antivirus (AV) program that launched in 2008, was originally limited to consumers. However, in 2010, Microsoft expanded the licensing to small businesses, defined as those with 10 or fewer PCs. Two years after that, MSE was replaced by Windows Defender with the launch of Windows 8.

Since then, Defender has been baked into each follow-up version of the OS, including Windows 10. Windows 7, though, has been stuck with MSE.

Computerworld previously speculated that Microsoft would provide updates to MSE even after Windows 7’s retirement, slated for Jan. 14. The forecast was based on Microsoft’s behavior five years ago, when it kept cranking out malware signature updates for Windows XP users of MSE in the months after that operating system’s April 2014 retirement.

What Computerworld neglected to consider, of course, was that in 2014 MSE still had a large pool of users or potential users, those running Windows 7. Because Microsoft was still required to produce MSE signature updates for Windows 7, there was no, or little extra work needed to push the same updates to XP. That’s not the case now; Windows 7 is the end of the line for MSE.

Without question, it would be in Microsoft’s interest to continue updating MSE on Windows 7 after Jan. 14; unprotected systems threaten the Windows ecosystem as a whole, because exploitation of, say, one Windows 7 PC could lead to the compromise of several other devices on the same network, such as one connecting the machines of a small business. But Microsoft has presumably weighed that against its desire to induce customers to upgrade to Windows 10 and found for the latter.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Windows by the numbers: Windows 10 hits late wall, stalls

Microsoft customers last month pressed “pause” in their migrations from Windows 7 to Windows 10 as the adoption of the latter stalled for the first time since February.

According to data published Sunday by analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10’s share of all personal computers slumped a full percentage point – breaking a string of four straight months of gains of a point or more – to end November with 53.3%. Windows 10’s portion of the user share of all Windows PCs fell seven-tenths of a point, to 62%.

(The percentage of Windows PCs (62%) is larger than the percentage of all personal computers (53.3%) because Windows does not run every desktop and notebook. In November, Windows powered 86.1% of the world’s personal computers. Of the remainder, all but a quarter of one percent ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS, with Apple’s operating system the largest, by far, of those.)

Usually, Windows 10 and its most popular forerunner, Windows 7, are in equilibrium: As one falls the other climbs. November was different, as Windows 7 stayed flat while 10 dropped. Windows 7’s share closed the month at 26.9% of all PCs and 31.2% of those powered by Windows. Windows 7’s change last month was the smallest since June and ended a four-month series of massive declines that totaled 8.5 points.

The sudden slowdown in transfer of share from Windows 7 to Windows 10 may have come out of the blue, but perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise. After digging into the data archives, it turned out that Windows XP’s decline stalled substantially in the third-to-last month before its retirement. Five years ago, Windows XP’s user share of February 2014 increased by three-tenths of a percentage point as it counted down to a mid-April end of support.

Microsoft will retire Windows 7 on Jan. 14, or in six weeks. The Redmond, Wash. firm will deliver the final security updates to customers on that date, although businesses can purchase post-retirement patches through the Extended Security Updates (ESU) program.

By the time you read this, it’ll be (almost) too late

Windows 7 may be close to its expiration date but that doesn’t mean everyone will abide and scrub it from their machines. It will continue to power devices for months, years to come – even on machines that don’t receive post-termination patches via ESU.

The stubbornness of Windows 7 in November, whether a measurement anomaly or a reflection of an actual slowdown, means that Computerworld‘s forecast of future changes – based on the latest 12-month average – has to be altered yet again. By that prediction, Windows 7 will be running 27.8% of all Windows PCs on Jan. 31, 2020, two weeks after its official retirement. If that fraction, slightly more than one-fourth, doesn’t seem substantial, maybe 417,000,000 does; that’s the estimated number of Windows 7 PCs represented by the 27.8%. Any way one cuts it, a lot of systems will continue to rely on Windows 7 after Microsoft puts it, at least on paper, out to pasture.

A year later – Jan. 31, 2021 – Windows 7 should account for a still-significant 14% of all Windows (or approximately 210 million machines). Meanwhile, Windows 10 will be on a whopping 86.4% of Windows devices.

The latter statistic, if it indeed comes to pass, would be notable for moving Windows 10 nearer Windows XP in the global popularity contest. (Perhaps “popularity” would not be accurate, as that implies choice; ultimately, most Windows users didn’t choose 10, as desktop alternatives are, realistically and for the vast majority, only mirages.)

In February 2007 – as far back as Computerworld‘s records go for Net Applications’ data – Windows XP accounted for an amazing 90.6% of all Windows, a monopoly caused by five-and-a-half years of availability and the lack of a successor. (Windows Vista, XP’s designated follow-up, was seriously delayed and didn’t launch until near the end of 2007. XP’s predecessors, Windows 98 and Windows Me, had been retired by then or because they so stunk had been abandoned.)

Windows 10 will surpass Windows XP’s record in April 2021, according to Net Applications’ numbers, which point to 10 accounting for 90.7% of all Windows at the end of that month. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise: Windows 10 will be nearly six years old by then and more importantly, it has no designated successor to eat into its share. Under earlier development and servicing models, Windows 10 would have been superseded by Windows 11 by now – with 11 competing for a finite share – with Windows 12 halfway through engineering. Instead, Windows 10 is to be the last Windows … ever … meaning that at some point in the not-too-distant future, that OS should own close to 100% of Windows.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, macOS marked a record 11.6% in desktop OS share. November was the third consecutive month during which macOS’s share was 11% or higher, a number never breached before September. Increases in Apple’s operating system have been balanced by corresponding declines in Windows as a whole, with November’s 86.1% the second-lowest level ever for the business-standard OS.

macOS’s trajectory may push it above 12% by February, according to projections based on its 12-month average.

Net Applications calculates operating system share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to reach the websites of Net Applications’ clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions to measure browser activity.

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This month’s Windows and Office security patches: Bugs and solutions

What a relief. The only major patching problem for November came from Office, not Windows. We had a handful of completely inscrutable patches – including two .NET non-security previews that apparently did nothing – but that’s the worst of it.

November saw the last security patch for Win10 version 1803. Win10 version 1909 got released, gently. We also had a much-hyped “exploited” zero-day security hole in Internet Explorer (again) that didn’t amount to a hill of beans (again).

As promised, we received no “optional, non-security” Windows 10 patches in November – and Microsoft promises there won’t be any this month, either. I think that’s great. If Microsoft wants to roll out beta test versions of Windows, it should have testers sign up for an Insider ring.

About those buggy Office patches

All of the Office patches in November throw a “Query is corrupt” error message in Access under certain circumstances. Access says “Query xxxx is corrupt,” when in fact the query in question is just fine.

corrupt query dialogue Microsoft

 I talked about the bug on Nov. 13. Microsoft finally acknowledged it almost a week later.

Microsoft rolled out a patch for Access 2016 on Nov. 18, but didn’t get the other installed (“MSI”) versions patched until Nov. 27. We’re still waiting for patches to the Click-to-Run versions of Office, which are currently scheduled for Dec. 10 – the next Patch Tuesday.

Inscrutable .NET previews

Along with Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup previews, we were also graced with four optional preview .NET patches – two of which don’t appear to do anything – and a group of one-off patches (not cumulative updates), available by manual download only, to fix a weird bug in ClickOnce.

In short, there weren’t any .NET patches in November worth the distraction.

Another ‘exploit’ fizzle

Speaking of distractions…, November saw a fix for an “exploited” security hole, CVE-2019-1429. The parallels to September’s CVE-2019-1367 are hard to ignore. Like -1367, -1429 is a “Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability” that is known (by Microsoft) to be used in some sort of attack. Like the earlier doppelganger, this new incarnation hits Internet Explorer directly, but can be leveraged by an aberrant Office document that links to IE. Both exploits seem full of sound and fury – 800 million Windows users exposed! Hurry and get patched! Click here! – but in the end, neither leaked into the wild.

There’s one big difference between the old -1367 and the new -1429: Microsoft didn’t start flailing around like a beached whale this time. If you recall, the September hole was subject to four – count ‘em, four – different out-of-band updates, poorly conceived and worse implemented. Local news broadcasts predicted the Windows sky was falling. Meh.

My advice then – and now – is to ignore the “exploited” designation, stop using Internet Explorer, set any other browser as your default, and read up on False Authority Syndrome (thanks, Rob).

Win10 version 1909, not yet ready for prime time

If you’re thinking about moving on to Win10 version 1909, make sure you weigh the benefits (are there any real benefits?) against the problems. Several bugs in Win10 1903 are running over into 1909, and 1909 has a handful of its own:

It remains to be seen whether there are any 1909-specific bugs. But it also remains to be seen whether there are any real benefits to moving to 1909.

Choose your version of Win10

Those of you running Win10 1809 Home may be distressed to discover that, unless you take significant steps to prevent it, Microsoft now upgrades your machine to version 1909, not 1903. That may be what you want – if so, I salute you! – but moving to Win10 1903 now gives you the opportunity to choose when you’ll get pushed onto 1909.

In fact, if you’re running Win10 version 1803 or 1809 (or don’t know what version you’re running!), there’s a relatively easy way to make sure you end up on the version you want. Full step-by-step instructions are here in, Running Win10 version 1803 or 1809? You have options. Here’s how to control your upgrade.

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Microsoft names its next Windows 10 upgrade: ‘2004’

Microsoft this week tagged the next Windows 10 refresh with the four-digit label 2004, the designation meant to avoid confusion with a long-retired server OS if not an admission of the upgrade’s release timeline.

Windows 10 2004 – in Microsoft’s format, the numbers represent year (yy) and month (mm) of release – is still in testing but will be 2020’s first feature upgrade. Until the Nov. 26 issue of the latest beta build, Microsoft had been calling the upcoming upgrade 20H1, as in 2020’s first-half release. (It’s unclear why Microsoft continues to identify in-beta releases with yyH1 and yyH2 when it always switches to the yymm scheme later.)

“We have chosen to use 2004 as the version to eliminate confusion with any past product names (such as Windows Server 2003),” Brandon LeBlanc, a senior program manager on the Windows Insider team, wrote in a post to a company blog.

Windows Server 2003 debuted in April 2003 and was retired from support in July 2015. It was superseded by Windows Server 2008.

The naming of Windows 10 feature upgrades has been imprecise from almost the start. Windows 10 1607, for example, debuted Aug. 2, 2016, not in July. Windows 10 1703 and 1803 each shipped in April, while 1903 went live in May. None popped up in March. In other words, there is no guarantee that Windows 10 2004 will go final next April. (One thing Microsoft has yet to do: Ship a Windows 10 feature upgrade before its label indicated.)

While Microsoft answered one question about 2020 when it named the spring’s Windows 10 upgrade, it tabled another.

“We are looking to begin releasing new builds from our development branch,” said Microsoft’s LeBlanc, referring to previews of whatever is to follow 2004. “Now is the time to check your Windows Insider Settings and switch to the Slow ring if you wish to remain on 20H1.”

It is unknown exactly what Microsoft will soon begin beta testing. If the company follows the path of this year, it will skip 2020’s fall upgrade (20H2? 2009?) and, like 2019, seed Insider participants with very early versions of the 2021 spring upgrade (21H1? 2103?) That, in turn, would mean the fall “upgrade” would be nothing close to an upgrade, but instead a rehash of the spring’s refresh with a smidgen of new features.

Microsoft’s other road – not taken this year – would be to revert to the 2017-2018 cadence of two roughly equivalent-in-scope feature upgrades by beginning to test the fall refresh. (20H2? 2009? See why Microsoft’s use of code names is confusing?) The major-minor model of 2019, then, would be exposed as a one-off and 2020 would be a return to normalcy, at least as Microsoft’s constantly evolving servicing policies can be “normal.”

Computerworld has predicted that the major-minor scheme of 2019 will continue in 2020 but has acknowledged that the forecast is based on little more than common sense, backed by solid benefits to Microsoft’s important commercial customers.

Microsoft has declined to say which upgrade will enter testing in early 2020, saying only that the recently released Windows 10 1909 – a minor upgrade in all senses of the term – was a “pilot” that would be evaluated. Hints dropped during a Microsoft-hosted Nov. 21 webinar could be read multiple ways.

“We’ve got some really cool stuff coming. We’ve got some announcements in the upcoming months,” said one of the Insider team during the online presentation of two weeks ago. “We listen to feedback, too.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Microsoft goes very small for Windows 10 1909’s ‘On’ switch

Microsoft has trumpeted the smaller size of Windows 10 1909, the fall feature upgrade that broke the twice-annual mold the company used in 2017 and 2018. But how much smaller is it?

According to members of the Insider team who held an online discussion Thursday, a lot smaller.

The so-called “enablement package,” the download that when installed transforms Windows 10 1903 – the full-featured upgrade released May 21 – into November’s 1909, weighs in at just 180KB, as in kilobytes.

(For context, 180KB is about 0.18MB, or less than 20% of a megabyte. More telling, it’s about 10 times the size of a two-page Microsoft Word document. Downloading a 180KB file would be seemingly instantaneous on all but the slowest broadband connection; a torpid 1Mbps connection, for instance, would download that file in about one second.)

“The 180KB package is just the thing that turns on the light switch,” said one of the team members, who had gathered around a conference table.


As Computerworld has detailed elsewhere, Windows 10 1909 is, unlike previous feature upgrades, nearly feature-free. Instead, it’s a Windows 10 analog to the old-school service packs of the past, catch-up collections of fixes made to a current but aging OS from the time it debuted (or was issued an earlier service pack).

In 1909’s case, it was months’, not years’ worth, of fixes, because Microsoft took May’s 1903, collected everything that changed from that point on, then added a handful of new features. Voilà…Windows 10 1909.

The two – 1903 and its rehash successor 1909 – are, Microsoft said, identical with the exception of those few new features baked into the latter. “Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909 share a common core operating system and an identical set of system files,” is how Microsoft put it. The cumulative update for 1903 released Nov. 12, in fact, was identical to the delivered-same-day Windows 10 1909.

Windows 10 enablement package Microsoft

To show the tiny size of Windows 10 1909’s ‘enablement package,’ Microsoft compared it to other ways to upgrade to the latest refresh in a slide from an online presentation. (Image: Microsoft.)

(Microsoft wrapped up Windows 10 1909 at least a month before its release; the Oct. 8 cumulative update to Windows 10 1903 also included 1909’s dormant features and could have been transformed into 1909 if the tiny 180KB enablement package had been available then. Note: It wasn’t.)

1909 is a pilot?

Along with the revelation that the transformative enablement package was a puny download, the Insider team also commented on one of the most-important, yet-unanswered questions about 1909. Is this un-upgrade concept, with a feature-packed refresh released in the spring and a rehash issued in the fall, how Microsoft will carry on going forward?

“Will we see this cycle for every year?” a question asked in one slide marked FAQ that was shown during the Thursday webinar. “Major feature update in H1, more minor update in H2, one cumulative update for both?”

The reply was more illuminating than an earlier-this-week decline-to-comment response from a Microsoft spokeswoman. “Delivering the 19H2 feature update via cumulative update and an enablement package is a pilot program,” the FAQ stated. “There isn’t a formal plan in place to deliver future releases in the same way.”

This was the first time Microsoft has referred to the major-minor cadence exhibited by 1903 and 1909 as a “pilot program.” But the latest phrasing still denies that a decision has been reached, that, in fact, there is remains a possibility Windows 10’s servicing model might return to a tempo of two equally full upgrades each year.

( Computerworld has argued, first, that returning to the major-major model would eliminate benefits now offered to enterprise customers and two, repudiate the time and money spent on coming up with what seemed, to outsiders at least, a complicated solution for Windows 10 1809’s debacle.)

“We are closely monitoring feedback and hoping to learn from this type of release to help influence our future plans,” Microsoft concluded in the FAQ.

“A lot of this was to see … to figure out if we could do it,” said another team member about the 1909 un-upgrade and whether it was a one-off. “Are we doing this again? There is no formal plan saying that there’s going to be a 20H2 the same way a 19H2 was done. We wanted to try this and see how it turned out. Obviously, there was a ton of things we learned along the way: The downstream impacts, the domino effects of how this all fits together. But as we continue to work through this with Insider preview builds, we’ll see what happens.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Why Windows 10 1909 should not be a one-off

Microsoft last week released Windows 10 1909, an oddball update that was far more rehash than refresh.

Purportedly the second upgrade for the year, in reality 1909 – also dubbed Windows 10 November 2019 Update – has so few new features that Windows veterans have compared it to old-school service packs,, the feature-free collections of fixes Microsoft used to issue every couple of years for the then-current OS. (The last time Redmond released a service pack was 2011, when it issued SP1 for Windows 7, the operating system staring at retirement in less than two months.)

Although Microsoft has never given a straight-forward rationale for this change to its upgrade model, outsiders have speculated that it was linked to the disastrous roll-out of Windows 10 October 2018 Update, aka 1809. Pulled from distribution almost as soon as it landed – the upgrade erased customer data – 1809 was months late getting to users. To restore the schedule, the thinking went, Microsoft skipped an upgrade by building an un-upgrade.

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3 Ways to Run Windows on Your Mac

Looking to run Windows on your Mac? There are a few different ways you can do it, each with its own pros and cons.

The best solution depends on what you want to use Windows for. Do you want to play video games? Need to use a specific Windows-based app? Or do you want a portable Windows system you can boot from any Mac?

We’ve explained all the ways you can run Windows on Mac below. Take a look to find out which method is best for you.

1. Dual Boot macOS and Windows Using Boot Camp

Boot Camp installation window setting partition size for Windows and Mac

Boot Camp is a built-in Mac utility you can use to install Windows. It partitions your hard drive into two sections, with Windows on one side and macOS on the other.

We call this a dual boot system, because you can boot into either macOS or Windows. But you can’t use both operating systems at once, which means you need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch.

The upside is you get great performance on both operating systems because it only needs to run one at a time. In some cases, a Mac running Windows through Boot Camp is faster than a dedicated Windows computer.

A dual boot system is the best option if you want to play computer games, edit videos, render graphics, or perform any other resource-intensive tasks.

How to Get Windows on Your Mac Using Boot Camp

With a Mac and an internet connection, you already have everything you need to install and run Windows using Boot Camp. Although, if your Mac came out before 2015, you also need to create a USB Boot Camp installer

How to Install Windows 10 on Your Mac With Boot Camp

How to Install Windows 10 on Your Mac With Boot Camp

Want to install Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp? Here’s a complete guide to installing Windows 10 on macOS that’ll walk you through it.
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Before getting started, make sure you have at least 64GB free on your startup disk. You need this much space for the Windows operating system and any content you want to use with it.

When you’re ready, download the latest version of Windows as an ISO disk image from Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page.

Next, open Boot Camp Assistant. You’ll find it inside Utilities in the Applications folder on your Mac, but it’s faster to search with Spotlight (Cmd + Space) to open it. Follow the on-screen prompts to partition your hard drive, download Windows support drivers, and install your dual boot system.

When the Boot Camp installation finishes, restart your Mac and hold Option while it powers up. It should give you the choice to boot into macOS or Windows.

Boot Camp Windows or macOS option screen

2. Run Windows in a Virtual Machine on Your Mac

Parallels running Windows on a MacA virtual machine (VM) runs Windows inside macOS. There’s no need to partition your hard drive and no need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch operating systems.

Using a VM means both Windows and macOS are running on your Mac at the same time, so the performance isn’t as good as a dual boot system. However, the added convenience of using Windows apps alongside macOS apps is usually enough to make up for that loss.

You’ve got a few different VM options if you want to install Windows on your Mac:

Parallels and VMware Fusion are premium services that make it easy to install and run Windows with a bunch of Mac-friendly features. VirtualBox is more complicated to set up and has fewer features, but it’s free.

How to Install a Windows Virtual Machine on Your Mac

Setting up VirtualBox takes a little bit of time and effort, but you can use our comprehensive VirtualBox guide

How to Use VirtualBox: User’s Guide

How to Use VirtualBox: User’s Guide

With VirtualBox you can easily install and test multiple operating systems. We’ll show you how to set up Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux as a virtual machine.
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to walk you through it.

Otherwise, Parallels and VMware Fusion are quick and easy to set up. Parallels is generally considered the best option for running Windows on a Mac, but both apps offer a range of attractive features. Take a look at our overview of Parallels

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to see what you get.

Buy a license or download a free trial for the software of your choice. Then follow the on-screen instructions to install and set up your Windows VM.Parallels installation on a Mac downloading Windows 10

3. Run Windows To Go From an External Drive Using WinToUSB

Windows To Go booted from USB external drive on a Mac

Windows To Go is a feature that lets you install a Windows system on an external hard drive, which you can then boot into from any Mac. The immediate benefits are that it doesn’t take up any space on your internal hard drive and it offers a huge amount of portability.

Using Windows To Go is similar to a dual boot system, except Windows runs from an entirely different drive instead of a separate partition. That means you still need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch operating systems.

Unfortunately, Windows To Go systems are limited by the data transfer and read/write speed of your external drive and the port they’re connected to. They also take a bit of setting up.

Ideally, you should use a USB 3.0 drive with a write speed of at least 50MB/s. You also need to make sure you connect it to a USB 3.0 port on your Mac for the fastest connection.

USB 3.0 micro cable

How to Install Windows To Go for Mac on an External Drive

While Microsoft deprecated the official Windows To Go feature in 2019, you can still use an equivalent setup thanks to third-party software. Nowadays, the easiest way to install Windows To Go on your external drive is with WinToUSB.

This free app is Windows-based, so you need to use a Windows computer or a VM to temporarily install it on your Mac. If you don’t have a Windows machine handy, we suggest you use the free trial of Parallels or VMware Fusion for this.

You also need to download support files from Boot Camp to ensure your Mac hardware works with Windows. Open Boot Camp Assistant in macOS and select Action > Download Windows Support Software from the menu bar.

Download Windows Support Software option from Boot Camp menu bar

When the support files finish downloading, copy and paste them into your VM.

Now connect your external drive and open Disk Utility on your Mac. Erase and reformat the drive as macOS Extended (Journaled) with a GUID Partition Map scheme. Once that’s done, eject and reconnect it to your VM.

Windows To Go external drive format settings in Disk Utility

In your VM, download the Windows ISO disk image and install WinToUSB.

Right-click the Start button to open Disk Management and select your external drive. Here, right-click the primary partition of the drive and click Delete volume, then right-click again and create a New simple volume. Set the file system to NFTS.

Open WinToUSB and select your external drive as the destination for Windows. Choose your boot and system partitions and select Legacy mode for the installation.

WinToUSB installing Windows To Go on an external hard drive

After WinToUSB installs Windows on your external drive, use File Explorer to copy across the Windows Support folder from Boot Camp Assistant.

Finally, restart your Mac and hold Option while it powers on to boot Windows To Go from your external drive. Open the Windows Support folder and go to Boot Camp > Setup.

This installs the necessary drivers for Windows to work with your Mac.

Use Windows Apps on Mac Without Installing Windows

Dual boot systems, virtual machines, and a Windows To Go setup are the best ways to run Windows on your Mac. But these are all a lot of work if you only need to use a single Windows app.

If this is the case for you, take a look at compatibility layers, like Wine or Crossover, instead. They let you run Windows apps from your Mac

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without installing the entire operating system.

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New Google Translate Tricks, Android Apps on Windows, Lower Your Rent

We take a look at a bunch of new features on popular services, the Disney+ Europe launch, Android apps on Windows, lowering your rent, how to scan old photos, print your own board games, and more…

Really Useful Podcast Season 4 Episode 12 Shownotes

This week’s Really Useful Podcast features Christian Cawley and Megan Ellis discussing:

Your rating or brief review on iTunes can help us reach more listeners. Or share the Really Useful Podcast via email and social media. We’re available wherever you can listen to podcasts, including:

Don’t miss next week’s Black Friday special!

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