Windows 10 19H2 – How this will become the most stable release yet

TL;DR Summary

  • 19H2 is a feature update delivered in a new way, using servicing technology (like the monthly update process) for customers running the May 2019 Update.  This will most likely be the go forward strategy
  • Current Branch for Business (CBB), Semi Annual Channel (SAC), and other older names have now evolved into Spring new images supported for 18 months and Fall stable and supported for 30 months.

Introduction

I had the honor speak at #AZSMUG and #MEMUG earlier this month.  The topic was Windows 10 19H2.  The original idea was to do a “What’s New” session.  Unlike the previous sessions I have done on this topic over the past 5 years this build is far more about stability, transparency, and management.

Presentation

  1. Nomenclature
  2. Windows 7 is EOL and will be very expensive to keep around
  3. Windows 10 1809 was a turning point to force more quality in future releases
  4. What caused the issues that culminated in 1809
  5. What is Microsoft doing to ensure this never happens again?
  6. 1903 the May Edition
  7. What are Updates?
  8. 19H2 Update Experiences
  9. What’s New in 19H2
  10. What Shaun thinks is neat in 19H1/19H2
  11. 20H1 What’s Coming

Nomenclature

When people search for Windows 10 all kinds of terms are used interchangeably:

  • 18990.1 – Build numbers are always present. My laptop is currently 18990.1 (20H1, RS6, 2003)
  • RS5 – Release 5 – Core OS – 19H2 is still RS5
  • 19H1 – Windows Insider builds are year YY and Half 1 or 2. 
  • 1903 – Microsoft has a twice a year cadence for releasing windows.  Those when they go public are called year YY and Month MM – YYMM – 1903 being March (Spring) of 2019. 
  • Internal names at Microsoft use Code Words but those are not for the public and don’t help you find answers on the internet.

Check the builds here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-insider/flight-hub/

Please take a look at the attached slides.  The commentary below is around what is covered. I think the slides attached here are pretty self explanatory. 

I have taken the time to pull out all the links below to save you trying to retype them.

Windows 7 goes End of life Jan 14th 2020

Turns out most companies are not done and a huge majority are working hard to get close.

Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet

What it will take to make it to Windows 10 Calculator

Extended support for Enterprise is something like

  • ~$29 per PC for the first year
  • ~$50 is year 2
  • ~$100 is year 3

Pro, OEM, and Home are DOUBLE the first year so starting ~$50.  This could be a huge expense to stay with legacy OS. 

Windows 1809 – Very public blockers

Here are  a few of the blockers I remember

  • User data deletion – this was reversible
  • Edge Stopped working – part of the OS (not optional) – Edge is used to render things like Microsoft Store
  • Apple iCloud Shared Albums compatibility issue
  • Intel Display Drivers
  • F5 VPN client
  • Trend Micro
  • Old AMD graphics drivers

Microsoft was very diligent in address each, preventing anyone else from being affected, and resolving anyone who had issues.  AI was heavily used to increase the success of deployments.

What caused the issues that culminated in 1809?

There are a lot of reasons things like this happen.  However, the one that makes most sense is this article here:

Do you all remember when Windows 7 and 8/8.1 devices came with certified hardware stickers?  Those disappeared in relation to the article above.

What is Microsoft doing to ensure this never happens again?

1903 the May Edition

This was a much better experience.  Blockers were identified very early on and illuminated even more longer term issues.  Two of the major blockers were devices that had USB attached storage (pen drives, microSD storage) and AntiCheat software that had Kernel Hooks.  One of the most popular games in 2018 and 2019 Fortnite used this anticheat software.  The reason the Anticheat software and a lot of 3rd party security tools were impacted and blocked is Microsoft is requiring all OS integration to follow strongly defined guidelines and APIs.  This is a great move as it clearly defines what is in support of making the end user experience better and what is malicious and unstable.   Microsoft did an amazing thing to keep everyone protected before releasing the software. 

Interesting illumination of how seriously Microsoft took the issue of blockers.  The first build of 20H1 was before the first slow ring release of 19H1.  More time for everyone to test internally and all the partners to follow the new stronger API requirements to make everything more stable.

What are Updates?

Quality Updates

A single cumulative update each month with no new features

  • Security fixes, reliability fixes, bug fixes, etc.
  • Supersedes the previous month’s update
  • Try them out with Security Update Validation Program, Windows Insider Program for Business, or Office Insiders Program

Feature Updates

Twice per year with new capabilities

  • New features and innovation APIs and security capabilities
  • 18-month servicing support for Spring
  • 30-month servicing support for Fall releases for Windows
  • 18-month servicing support for Office releases
  • Very reliable, with built-in rollback capabilities
  • Simple deployment using in-place upgrade, driven by existing tools
  • Try them out with Windows and Office Insider Programs for Business

LCU – Latest Cumulative Update

  • LCU = Latest Cumulative Update; inclusive of bug fixes & security fixes
  • 19H2 is an update on top of the 19H1 base image (i.e., not an OS swap)

SSU

Servicing Stack Update

eKB An Enablement Package

The switch that turns on the features on.  If you turn off the eKB in 1909 it turns into 1903 (May 2019 Update)

19H2 Update Experiences

Pre 1903 Non-WU channels – like normal Feature Update

  • Media released as a combined package: 19H1+LCU+eKB (i.e., 19H2 features “on”)

Updating via WU – shown as “Feature Update,” but:

Any pre-19H1 devices (TH1-RS5):

  • Download & install will take a while like prior feature updates – it’s a full OS swap

19H1 devices NOT up-to-date with LCUs:

  • Fast download & install (only the LCU, SSU & eKB need to be installed)
  • Will be prompted to reboot; active hours are respected (same behavior as Quality Update)
  • Device moves to 19H2 after reboot

19H1 devices up-to-date with LCUs:

  • Very fast download & install (only the eKB needs to be installed)
  • Will be prompted to reboot; active hours are respected (same behavior as Quality Update)
  • Device moves to 19H2 after reboot

What’s New in 19H2

Check out the slide deck

What Shaun thinks is neat in 19H1/19H2

20H1 What’s Coming?

New post coming soon

Also Windows 10X posts coming soon

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