Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

Annual Windows 10 Feature Updates

Starting with Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a new servicing model known as "Windows as a Service" (WaaS), which simply means that instead of getting a new version every three years, you get incremental updates that speed up the integration of new features and simplify the process of keeping devices current in a fast-paced digital world.

Quality updates versus feature updates, what's the difference?

As a result of Microsoft's new servicing model, there are now two types of updates: "quality updates" and "feature updates". Both are equally important, but each one delivers different sets of improvements at different times. SCS Computing Facilities runs a managed Windows environment where we receive and subsequently distribute these updates internally.

Monthly "Quality" Updates: We distribute monthly "quality updates" that include mandatory security patching and functionality improvements for Windows.

Annual "Feature" Updates: Feature updates are technically new versions of Windows 10, which become available twice a year (roughly every six months) during spring and fall. 

Getting started and what to expect

Feature Updates use the same mechanism for monthly updates and will be delivered to Andrew domain-bound computers via Windows Update for Business. The main difference between Feature Updates and ordinary Windows updates will be duration and new Windows features.

The first portion of the process occurs in the background. This may take 1 to 3 hours depending on the performance of your system (allowing continued use of the computer).

The second portion will include a prompt for a reboot, similar to a reboot after a monthly Microsoft "quality" update. During this time your machine will be inaccessible. You control when this reboot will occur to minimize disruption to your work. The reboot time will vary, from 10 to 60 minutes to complete depending on your computer's particular age or specifications. 


This update will be available for a full month to schedule at your convenience. After the month deadline has been reached, the installation will proceed automatically. The first portion of the process will occur in the background. The second portion consists of a reboot (the system will prompt for a user scheduled reboot or automatically restart after 21 days). The reboot time will vary, from 10 to 60 minutes to complete depending on your computer's particular age or specifications.

While these are necessary upgrades for continued stability and security of our Windows computers, they occur up to twice a year.

Please note: We are not able to exempt systems from this upgrade. 

If you arrived at this informational page without receiving a direct email communication from SCSCF, please disregard until contacted.