Microsoft has finally restarted the automatic distribution of Windows 10 October 2018 Update, the problem-plagued upgrade pulled from release in October just days after its debut.
"We are now starting our phased rollout to users via Windows Update, initially offering the update to devices we believe will have the best update experience based on our next-generation machine-learning model," Microsoft said in a refreshed support document.
That rollout was supposed to start three months ago.
Microsoft began offering the October 2018 Update, aka 1809 in its four-number yymm designation, on 2 October, but only to those who manually sought the feature upgrade (so-called "seekers") who clicked on "Check for Updates" within the OS.
Within days, however, it blocked that access after acknowledging that some users' files had been irretrievably lost.
If that hadn't happened, Microsoft would have probably begun pushing the upgrade to users later in October.
Microsoft stages delivery of its feature upgrades by first giving the code to a few, starting with PCs that telemetry signals are most likely to successfully install the refresh without problems. Only when it's satisfied that everything is going smoothly does Microsoft expand delivery to more systems.
But because of the situation's seriousness, Microsoft initially re-released 1809 only to volunteers in the Windows Insider program. Not until December was the company confident enough in the upgrade to again offer it to all seekers.
Now, a month later, 1809 has started showing up on some Windows 10 PCs that relied on the consumer-grade Windows Update service.
That timetable put 1809 into a serious hole, as Computerworld noted earlier this month. Citing data from AdDuplex - which put 1809's adoption rate at only an eighth of its October 2017 predecessor's - Computerworld pointed out that without a delay by successor 1903, expected to begin release in April, many users would be forced to migrate from 1809 after running it as few as two and a half months.
Microsoft's feature upgrade schedule for Windows 10 posits six-month intervals between releases, implicitly pledging that each will run for that same six-month stretch on the Windows 10 Home systems that cannot defer upgrades.
Based on the 16 January roll-out restart for 1809, consumer PCs will run the upgrade for three months before being required to drop that build and install 1903 (the same personal computers identified by Microsoft as having "the best update experience" for 1809 will almost certainly be pegged as the earliest recipients of 1903).
Microsoft did reset the support timeline for 1809 because of the debacle.
The original end of support for Windows 10 Home 1809 and Windows 10 Pro 1809 was 14 April 2020; support for Windows 10 Enterprise 1809 and Windows 10 Education 1809 was to expire on 13 April 2021.
Instead, the new end-of-support dates were pegged as 12 May 2020 (Home and Pro), and 11 May 2021 (Enterprise and Education).