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As I understood it, Microsoft changed the way how Windows 10 automatically installs feature updates starting from version 1903. E.g., on this official Microsoft blog post it says:

Beginning with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, users will be more in control of initiating the feature OS update.
[...]
This new “download and install” option will also be available for our most popular versions of Windows 10, versions 1803 and 1809, by late May.

But yesterday my private Windows 10 Pro x64 version 1809 automatically downloaded and installed feature update 1903 (and even did that while I was playing a game...). As far as I understand it, that shouldn't have happened. 1809 Home and Pro is still supported until May 12, 2020 so the case that it "soon reaches end of service" that is mentioned in the blog post should also not apply.

I did not change any hidden Windows update settings (like with a group policy or in the registry). Previously, I had it configured to be in the "semi annual" update channel (not the "targeted" one) so that I get the updates later, but even that option was removed from the GUI in some update (I assume because it "should" now be manual to install feature updates).

I did see that new "download and install" UI element on the Windows Update screen before it automatically updated yesterday. But of course I never clicked it.

Does anyone have an idea why my PC automatically installed the 1903 update?

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The problem here is you interpreting the text.

Starting from 1903 the auto-update policy is different. This means the following:

Windows versions prior to 1903 do not yet have the software settings to do Windows Updates as the new way. Given how deep Windows Updates is woven into Windows, it is not easy to change the way Windows Updates work on previous versions by simply distributing it through an Update.

So in order to get the new Windows Update functionality, you literally need to update to Windows 10 v1903 before you can use the new Windows Update functionality.

Keep in mind that 1903 was released in May, and that it is almost half a year old. Microsoft will always roll out upgrades like these during the course of the year unless specifically told not to.

Microsoft reasons that users should upgrade their windows at least once a year in order to make it run smoothly, but prefers every half year. This is actually a good thing to do because this will refresh windows and keeps things running fast. It is smart to wait upgrading until you know for sure that there are no issues with a particular version. So when a new version comes out, I usually wait a month before I upgrade myself.

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  • If that is the case, why did Microsoft write the sentence that I put in the second part of the quote? It was already the case that I saw this new UI element and that the normal "search for updates" didn't install the feature update, even though I was still on 1809. – cremor Aug 30 '19 at 8:07
  • It are these versions of windows that automatically get the 1903 upgrade through Windows update around May. – LPChip Aug 30 '19 at 8:08
  • That's not correct. Even version 1803 only got the 1903 update automatically installed in mid July. And that was expected since it "soon reaches end of service" (in November). And that is also the state that is currently documented. – cremor Aug 30 '19 at 8:22
  • I mean, starting from May, these versions get pushed through Windows Update gradually. – LPChip Aug 30 '19 at 8:49
  • I've now found something that seems to confirm your answer. Altough the mentioned date for the automatic update doesn't match my experience at all (it says July 23, but my machine only updated on August 29), at least the latest update on that blog post confirms that 1809 will indeed automatically update to 1903: Link – cremor Sep 5 '19 at 5:49
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As noted above, you need to have V1903 installed before the new method of update kicks in.

But with 1803, 1809 and 1903 you can set Active Hours so that restart will occur outside of those hours. I have Active Hours set for 7 am to 9 pm. Restarts occur after 9 pm.

You can also Pause updates for 7 or more days.

So you are still in control.

V1903 is very stable at this point. There should be no issue with upgrading if it has already happened.

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