Most of the time, the question of upgrading to the next version of Windows 10 is more-or-less academic. Win10 bulls want to get the new bits as soon as they’re available. Those with a less frenetic (and, I would argue, less self-destructive) bent usually wait until the initial furor dies down or until Microsoft forces the new version upon them – something that has happened three times for Win10 version 1709.
Still others wait for Microsoft to change the version from “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)” to “Semi-Annual Channel,” the newspeak translation of the previous “Current Branch for Business.”
The decades-old advice to “wait for the first Service Pack” doesn’t have an analog in these times of madly rushed twice-annual upgrades.
So what are the tell-tale signs that a new version is worth the pain of upgrading? We’ve been talking about that a lot on the AskWoody Lounge, courtesy of Noel Carboni.
Right now, and over the next two or so weeks, it’s a pivotal question. Microsoft has enticed, cajoled and “accidentally” pushed most Win10 Creators Update (version 1703) machines to the next version, Win10 Fall Creators Update (version 1709). Some of us, though, are holding back, waiting for version 1709 to show some signs of stability before making the leap. Given the abysmal quality of cumulative updates for 1709, some degree of reticence seems warranted.
Back in the not-so-good-old days, the reasons for upgrades were fairly straightforward. Version upgrades seemed enticing because of significantly improved features. Service Pack upgrades were forced, sooner or later.
In the world of Windows 10-as-a-Service, we’re seeing very few carrots and a whole lot of sticks.
Why would anyone want to move from Win10 version 1703 to 1709? What carrots are dangling out there, worthy of making the plunge? Very few, in my estimation, if any.
Putting aside the assertion that the current version of Windows is more secure than the past (a claim that’s been proffered repeatedly at least since Windows 2.11 pushed out 2.10), what can the normal Win10 user expect with an upgrade to 1709?
Not much. I blame the breakneck twice-a-year upgrade pace, but the simple fact is that very few mainstream Windows users will see much improvement with an upgrade.
In the case of Win10 1709 vs. 1703, as best I can tell, we get two significant new features:
- Controlled Folder Access, which is undeniably a deterrent to older ransomware. (Hint: Per Catalin Cimpanu on bleepingcomputer, you have to enable it manually.) Newer ransomware may be able to bypass CFA rather easily.
- The placeholders/Files On-Demand feature in OneDrive, which was a capability of OneDrive in Windows 8.1, brought back from the dead.
Whether those features are worthy of the time and hassle necessary to upgrade to 1709 is a question only you can answer. And, yes, many people upgrade from 1703 to 1709 with no problems at all. But, demonstrably, many have lots of problems.
Here’s the rub. With the release of the next version of Win10 (“Spring Creators Update?” “North American Spring Forward Fall Back Downgrade”?) version 1803 arriving sometime next month, you need to make up your mind pretty quickly about which way to jog.
One thing you know for sure: You don’t want to be one of the unpaid beta testers. It’s absolute folly – or hubris – to install a new version of Windows as soon as it comes out. That’s been true pretty much forever, and it’s true now more than ever.
As soon as 1803 hits, all of the standard upgrade paths from 1703 will go to 1803. It’ll take some extraordinary effort to get to 1709 as soon as 1803 is the new poster boy. So there’s some urgency in getting your 1709 ducks lined up – whether you ever use them or not.
If you want to stick with 1703 for a while, but still have 1709 available should you decide to upgrade, take Susan Bradley’s advice and download a copy of the 1709 Windows installation file. Do it now. You can use that file from inside 1703 to upgrade to 1709, even after 1803 is the shiny new kid on the block.
If you want to stick with your current version of Win10, whatever it may be, and wait for 1803 to prove its mettle, you need to block the upgrade with all your might. Given Microsoft's abysmal record with the 1709 forced upgrade, it won't be easy. I'll talk about the methods next week.
Questions? Comments? Rub elbows with the experts on the AskWoody Lounge.