Windows 10: A guide to the updates

Windows 10: A guide to the updates

The launch of a big Microsoft Windows 10 update like the Creators Update isn’t the end of a process — it’s really just the beginning. As soon as a major update is released, Microsoft quickly gets to work on improving it by fixing bugs, releasing security patches, and occasionally adding new features.

Here we’ve summarized what you need to know about every Windows 10 update since the Creators Update, with the most recent on top. For each build, we’ve included the date of its release and a link to Microsoft’s announcement about it.

Note: This story covers updates to the currently shipping PC (not phone) version of Windows 10. If you're looking for information about Insider Program previews for the next major release of Windows 10, see "Windows 10 Redstone: A guide to the builds." And if you’re still using an earlier version of Windows, see the Microsoft support site for details about updates to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

KB4022725 (OS Builds 15063.413 and 15063.414)

Release date: June 13, 2017

This security update closes dozens of security holes, including two remote code execution vulnerabilities (CVE-2017-8464, which is similar to Stuxnet, and CVE-2017-8543, which is a wormlike attack).

It also fixes a variety of bugs, including one in which a user may have to press the space bar to dismiss the lock screen to log in, even after the logon is authenticated using a companion device.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security patch, it should be applied immediately, especially because several of the security holes are being actively used by attackers. (Get more info about KB4022725.)

KB4020102 (OS Build 15063.332)

Release date: May 25, 2017

This non-security update fixes a wide variety of bugs but offers no new features. Among other issues, it fixes a problem when network printers may fail to install using the printer vendor’s setup software on PCs with less than 4GB of RAM. It also fixes several problems with Internet Explorer, including one where non-administrator users can’t install ActiveX controls. (Get more info about KB4020102.)

KB4016871 (OS Builds 15063.296 and 15063.297)

Release date: May 9, 2017

This is a security update that also includes minor bug fixes, but no new features. The security updates are for Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Graphics Component, Windows SMB Server, Windows COM, Microsoft Scripting Engine, the Windows kernel, Windows Server, and the .NET Framework. Among the bugs fixed are one in which autochk.exe can randomly skip drive checks and not fix data corruptions, which could lead to data loss.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied immediately. (Get more info about KB4016871.)

KB4016240 (OS Build 15063.250)

Release date: April 25, 2017

This non-security update squashes a wide variety of bugs but includes no new features. It fixes a bug that caused intermittent logout from web applications and another that made systems unresponsive in certain situations after running Direct3D apps in full-screen exclusive mode. Previous to this patch, Windows Forms configuration issues caused antivirus applications to stop working at startup; they now work.

What IT needs to know: Two of the bugs fixed with this release are one in which some VMs experienced network connectivity loss while provisioning IP addresses and another that prevented Group Policy settings from disabling the lock screen. (Get more info about  KB4016240.)

KB4015583 (OS Build 15063.138)

Release date: April 11, 2017

This security update includes only a few minor bug fixes and no new features. It updates security for Scripting Engine, libjpeg image-processing library, Hyper-V, Windows kernel-mode drivers, Adobe Type Manager Font Driver, Internet Explorer, Graphics Component, Active Directory Federation Services, .NET Framework, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, Microsoft Edge and Windows OLE. In addition, it fixes a problem with updating time zone information.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied immediately. (Get more info about KB4015583.)

KB4016251 (OS Build 15063.13)

Release date: April 5, 2017

This non-security update fixes a few very minor bugs and has no new features. It repairs a problem that caused the Surface USB: Bluetooth radio to sometimes fail during hibernate/resume, and fixes an issue in which a virus protection product driver installation would trigger a system crash on Windows build 15060 configured with DeviceGuard. (Get more info about KB4016251.)

Windows 10 Creators Update (version 1703)

Release date: April 5, 2017

Version 1703, dubbed the Creators Update, is the most recent major update to Windows 10. Here’s a quick summary of what’s new for users in the Creators Update. (For more details, see our full review.)

  • It helps you better organize the Start menu by letting you put multiple tiles for apps into a single folder — for example, you can group all social media apps into one folder.
  • Users are given a bit more control over the update process: They can delay an update for three days and keep delaying it in three-day increments, or choose specific times for updates to install.
  • The Edge browser has gotten some improvements, including having Flash disabled by default for security reasons and supporting the ePub and PDF formats for reading books and other content.
  • Microsoft added some 3D and virtual reality features, including running HoloLens virtual reality and mixed reality apps for the first time, and introducing a Paint 3D app for creating 3D objects.
  • System settings that previously were in multiple locations have been consolidated into the Settings app.
  • There’s a new all-in-one security dashboard called Windows Defender Security Center that consolidates many security and computer health settings and information.
  • New gaming features include streaming gaming sessions over the internet; a Game Mode to improve gaming performance; and a Game bar to let you record your gameplay, take screenshots and perform games-related tasks.
  • The Cortana personal assistant gets a few modest additions, including scheduling monthly reminders and helping you set up devices.

What IT needs to know: IT staff should be aware of these features that are new in the Windows 10 Creators Update:

  • Security has been improved in a number of ways, including adding new features and insights into Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to better investigate and respond to network threats. Among the new features are sensors in memory, better intelligence and improved remediation capabilities.
  • Several new configuration service providers (CSPs) available in the Creators Update let administrators manage Windows 10 devices through Mobile Device Management (MDM) or provisioning packages. The DynamicManagement CSP, for instance, can enable or disable certain device features depending on location, network presence or time.
  • New mobile application management capabilities can protect data on personal mobile devices without requiring each device to be part of the corporate MDM.
  • The Windows Configuration Designer (previously called Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer) includes new wizards to make it easier to create provisioning packages, including for desktop devices, Windows mobile devices, Surface Hub devices, HoloLens devices and kiosk devices.
  • Enterprise security administrators get a more comprehensive documentation library for Windows Defender Antivirus.
  • If an enterprise-wide update policy hasn’t been configured, users with Windows Pro, Windows Enterprise or Windows Education editions have much more control over how Windows updates. With the Creators Update, users can now automatically delay cumulative monthly updates for up to 30 days, and can delay feature updates by up to 365 days.

For more details about new features for IT, see the Microsoft blog posts “Windows 10 Creators Update advances security and best-in-class modern IT tools” and “What’s new in Windows 10, version 1703 IT pro content.”

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