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Pedaling backwards in Windows 10

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John
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In life, you must move forward or go backward. There is no standing still. Now it is the same with Windows 10

What does it mean? – pedaling backwards in Windows 10. Forget Information Technology and Business. In life itself, you are always either going forward or else falling behind. There is no such thing as standing still. This article is to help those people who are falling behind in Windows 10 by not updating Windows and why, now more than ever, it is not a good idea.


Background


Windows 10 is arguably the best Windows operating system produced by Microsoft. The primary reason is that Microsoft is adding functionality and addressing issues by bringing out brand new Versions every six months or so. In addition to the new features that come out, bugs get fixed and security is improved. 


Windows 10 Versions have come out as follows:


Windows 10 1507 Build 10240  August 2015

Windows 10 1511 Build 10586  November 2015

Windows 10 1607 Build 14393  August 2016

Windows 10 1703 Build 15063  April 2017

Windows 10 1709 Build 16299  October 2017

Windows 10 1803 Build 17134  April 2018


I started using Windows 10 in August 2015 on a Lenovo ThinkPad X230 which I had upgraded from Windows 8.1. I have since upgraded to a new ThinkPad X1 Carbon that came preinstalled with Windows 10 Version 1607 in October 2016. Finally, I upgraded my Desktop computer to a new Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 that came with Windows 10 Version 1511 in December 2015. Both of these computers are now running Windows 10 Version 1803 very successfully, and both have the most recent BIOS and Chipset updates. I will discuss the importance of BIOS and Chipset updates later in this article.


The ThinkPad X230 is a spare machine and is now running Windows 10 V1803 Insider Edition. This allows me to review and exercise new functions without having to upgrade my production machines with a beta operating system and the inevitable bugs that come with it. 


I have written several articles for Experts Exchange since the beginning of Windows 10 to help members here, and (to my personal pride) which have helped me become a Microsoft MVP(Independent Experts – Real World Answers). I have gone to a couple of MVP Global Summits, learned even more about Windows 10, and where it is heading (under strict Non-Disclosure Agreement). 


I have listed my Windows 10 Articles here that span the period from October 2014 before the official release of Windows 10 up to the current version of Windows 10 in October 2017:


First impressions of Windows 10 based on Windows 10 Pre-release.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/16579/First-Impressions-of-Windows-10.html


My experiences upgrading the ThinkPad X230 from Windows 8 to Windows 10.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/19299/Upgrading-new-er-Windows-8-1-machines-to-Windows-10.html


Early experiences with Windows Defender and Symantec Endpoint Protection.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/19419/Upgrading-to-Windows-10-A-story-about-CPU-consumption.html


My attempt upgrade an older (2008) ThinkPad to Windows 10.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/19120/Upgrading-older-systems-to-Windows-10-a-real-world-test.html


Windows 10 30 days later.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/20259/Working-with-Windows-10-30-days-later.html


Windows 10 1 year later.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/28514/Windows-10-One-Year-Later.html


Windows 10 after 2 years.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/29523/Windows-10-Two-Years-of-Use.html


Issues with the first Windows 10 Creator Update Version 1703.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/29734/Making-peace-with-Windows-10-Creator-Update-60-days-later.html


Good news for the second Windows 10 Creator Update Version 1709.

https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/31098/Windows-10-2017-Fall-Creator-Update-V1709.html



I want to turn Updates OFF and try to stand still


As Windows 10 has become more and more popular, and more people have upgraded to Windows 10 or purchased Windows 10 machines, I seem to have spent much of my time in Experts Exchange during 2018 with the basic question: “How do I stop Windows 10 from updating (permanently)?” The answer, for most users, is: “You cannot.” Not permanently. 


Quoting from ZD Net Must Read News Alerts published Tuesday April 10, 2018:


If your organization is running Windows 10, April 10, 2018 marks an important milestone.


For Windows 10 version 1607 (the so-called Anniversary Update), that date marks the official end-of-service date. To continue receiving monthly security and quality updates, you need to install a newer feature update from the Semi-Annual Channel.


If that abbreviated lifecycle seems like a major change from previous versions, welcome to the "Windows as a service" era.


https://www.zdnet.com/article/when-will-microsoft-pull-the-plug-on-your-version-of-windows-or-office/?ftag=TREc64629f&bhid=23164040498209351948461508422926


I interpret the above as evidence of the (much) earlier statement from Microsoft that Windows 10 is the “last” Windows Operating system. Whether this is true in the long term is probably not relevant. What is relevant is that Microsoft will continue in the medium-term issue semi-annual Windows 10 versions (which are large 2+ Gigabyte downloads followed by hour-long or more installation). This design speeds up the operating system update cycle enormously (because most machines that are running Windows 10 will accommodate the major updates). This has also been a ruthless shock to the people who turned Windows 7 updates off. 


Six months go by in a hurry, and people have found that software that worked in Windows 10 Version 1607 (older versions of Symantec Endpoint Protection, older versions of NCP Secure Entry VPN, and others) no longer works properly or at all in the Creator Update versions 1703 or beyond. Accordingly, software must be upgraded or changed out for something different. The cry then goes up “Let me stop updates!”


This is flawed thinking – hence the title of this article “Pedaling backward in Windows 10”. Something works in V1511 so we need to stop there. Something works in V1607 so we need to stop there. Something works in V1709 so we need to stop there. You get the point. There is no stopping any longer.


There is a long list of software that does not work properly or at all with Windows 10 V1709 or later.


Office 2007 or earlier

Adobe V10 or earlier

NCP VPN V9 or earlier

VMware Workstation V11 or earlier

QuickBooks V2011 or earlier

Symantec Endpoint Protection V12 or earlier

Numerous Printer Drivers from 2016 and earlier

together with lots of software that I do not use personally. 


Most of the list above costs money to upgrade and both individuals and business people are reluctant to spend money to replace software that works in order to adapt to newer versions of Windows. But newer versions of Windows provide features and functionality that we all (individuals and businesses) want. So, it is a vicious circle: We want new features, Windows brings forward new features, and the old software can’t cope.


What does all this mean? Like it or not, Windows will move on and software must keep up in order to cope. Software (good software) is not free, so there is a business expense to build in to budgets to accommodate new software as well as capital for new computers. We have found, however, that keeping software current is less expensive long term than failing to update and spending time and money to keep the old stuff going.


Can we stop Windows 10 Updates? No (not for most us).


You can set your update channel to Semi-Annual (Targeted) which means the feature update is ready for most people or Semi-Annual Channel which means the feature update is in Widespread use. This could be up to a year although shorter than that in most cases. 


If you are in a business, your IT folk can set you up with the Long Term Service Branch method which will adopt a version of Windows that will not change until they change it. However even those versions need to be updated at some point. 


Feature updates with new capabilities can be deferred 365 days. 


Quality updates including security updates can be deferred 30 days. 


Pause updates: This function can pause installation of updates for up to 35 days. When updates resume, they must be completed and installed before pausing again. 


See the screenshot below. This is from Windows 10 V1709 and earlier versions of Windows such as V1607 do not include all these capabilities. 




Windows 7 (a very good operating system that most of us have used) is good until some time in 2020. What about Windows 10?


For individuals and very small businesses, Windows 10 V1607 reached end of service April 10, 2018 and no longer receives security or service updates. I had a client machine at V1607 waiting for some fixes to Symantec Endpoint Protection and I neglected to follow up in a timely fashion. The user called me and said there was a message to update. Indeed, there was – a very much “in your face” message blocking the entire screen until it was acknowledged. I removed Symantec because we have adopted Windows Defender for individuals and very small organizations and then updated to V1709 on April 8, 2018, and all is well. But you will not be allowed to forget that your Windows 10 operating system is dead. That means (for individual users and small organizations) V1607, V1511, and V1507 are all dead and gone as of mid-2018 while Windows 7 continues to get security updates (and nothing more) until 2020. 


Restart Options: I recently went to my Insider machine which was doing a big upgrade and a similar blue message was on the screen except it said, “You need to Restart, Now, Later, ”.So, where Microsoft tells us “Your operating system is about to die – Update Now, they have given us some help with clearer Restart options. That should help many people with the long restart requirements. The new Restart advice is available in Version 1803. 


See, then, what I mean above by Windows as a Service and an ever-faster pace of Windows development?


So often I hear (here in Experts Exchange, and other places) that upgrading software or reinstalling is “not an option”. Let me turn this one around on you: 


Standing still is no longer an option.


When Microsoft says, “feature update is in Widespread use”, that may not include your beloved piece of old software, but the world is not going to wait for you. 


Stories I have heard about this issue:


I have a half million-dollar printer based on Windows XP and I cannot afford to buy a new printer, so I cannot upgrade.


This is a tragic story. Windows XP is 15 years old. The printer is capital, so it should have been amortized over the life of the printer. Amortization is a non-cash expense that creates cash in the bank. This should be isolated and accumulated so that today, there is money to replace that expensive printer. But business routinely fail at this simple accounting exercise and say they cannot afford to upgrade. Tragic and foolish at the same time. The Finance Manager should have known better.


I cannot upgrade my software because I lost all my licensing (or I am just plain unwilling to upgrade my software).


Words fail me here. If you throw away or lose your software disks and keys, you have only to look in the mirror for the problem.


I have committed a single machine (workstation or server) to a non-stop business process (one single point of failure) and I cannot restart the computer.


Put a failover plan in place with another computer or server in order to be able to service either machine. Plan ahead. This is another seriously flawed business practice. I wonder if business managers or general managers know this practice is going on, and that such action can negatively affect their businesses.



I am highly resistant to change.


Change is an integral part of computing and so maybe you do not have the right job. 


Summary:


I can summarize all the above stories quite easily: I simply have not heard a truly legitimate reason to attempt to stand still. I personally believe such a reason does not exist.



Reasons to move ahead:


I had bugs of some sort on my laptop that caused WMP Provider Host errors, Printer driver errors, Conexant Audio driver errors, NCP errors, and the loss on my right context function. These errors did not all happen simultaneously; rather, they occurred over time and with different Windows Updates. Of these errors, the loss of right context was the most serious, and despite some significant research, I never found any way to reliably and repeatedly restore non-working right context to operation. I had to do a Windows 10 Repair Install to fix this.


I had done a few Windows 10 Repair Installs with very slow overall improvement. Then, in mid-March 2018, I did a Repair Install that took me directly V1709 Build 16299.309, and all the errors vanished. In perfect 20:20 hindsight, I am certain this was a Windows bug that Microsoft finally fixed. Thankfully, none of these errors caused the machine to crash; they were just very inconvenient.


The point here is that errors will occur, and we need to address the errors, fix the problems, and move forward. Attempting to stand still (which really means going backward) will not solve anything. It turns out that Windows 10 Version 1803 has proven to be very reliable on commercial computers and well-designed consumer computers.


New security threats:


Now, in the middle of our Windows Updates, and new in 2018 – the Meltdown virus threat appeared which is a firmware problem. The only way to address this is with BIOS updates to fix the firmware issues. Accordingly, you need to update BIOS, Chipset, and on most computers, Video drivers, and then, do all the current Windows Updates which are integrated with the BIOS updates.


On modern Lenovo computers (desktop and laptop) there were 2 BIOS updates in the first quarter of 2018. I observed that after the first round of BIOS updates, there were new Windows Updates that followed. It is really necessary to do both.


I hope this article has helped you to understand that it is better in the long run to update your machines. Standing still is really NOT an option. 



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