PSA: Windows 10 Anniversary Update gives just 10 days for rollback

[German]Shipping the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 Microsoft secretly has reduced the period to downgrade from a month to 10 days. Thought it will be a good idea to mentioned it in a blog post.


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In “old days” Microsoft granted 30 days for rollback

It has been told for a year that users who are upgrading from Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, have a month to rollback to previous operating system. Also testers of Windows preview builds had this one month option to revert back to a previous build. 

Windows 10 Version 1607 reduce rollback to 10 days

I haven’t noticed this fact – although I was testing Insider Preview builds – but my other test machine running Windows 10 version 1511 did not receive Anniversary Update till yet. I’ve read only somewhere in the internet a remark about the reduced time period. The guys at winsupersite.com had a better eagle eye and published an article Microsoft Shortens Recovery Rollback Period to 10 Days in Windows 10 Anniversary Update on August 3, 2016. Today I’ve opened the Settings app and checked under Update & Security –> Recovery what’s reported – and I got this.

Rollback 10 days

Windows 10 informs me that the rollback period has ended (well, I’ve upgraded this test machine in July with insider preview builds). 

Microsoft: People don’t use/need 30 days for rollback

We could read a lot about the “golden” new feature of Windows 10 Anniversary Update from Microsoft’s marketing. But as far as I remember, I never read a word from Microsoft about the reduced rollback period in Windows 10 Anniversary Update. [see my update below] The guys at winsupersite.com asked Microsoft and got the following answer from a spokesman.


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“Based on our user research, we noticed most users who choose to go back to a previous version of Windows do it within the first several days. As such, we changed the setting to 10 days to free storage space used by previous copies.”

For me are two conclusions: First of all, Microsoft has realized, that updates are wasting free space on Windows 10 machines. The author at winsupersite.com mentioned a size of 4 GB that could be deleted – but that’s wrong. Depending on the system, Windows.old can reach more than 20 GB. My experience – with my own test machines and from Microsoft Answers forum – is, that a 64 GB SSD is too small for practical purposes (32 GB eMMC/SSD on cheap tablet pcs is a no go). I was facing many times the “not enough free space” during upgrade installs and also a rollback to Windows 8.1 has been refused because of to less free space. In other words: It’s a mess to work on such machines with Windows 10.

And I noticed, that Microsoft’s telemetry data collection delivered enough data, that the decision has been made by Microsoft’s management. But they did it in a secret manner. 

Update: Finally I found Microsoft has documented the reduced rollback period in the document Recovery options in Windows 10.

The time you have to go back depends on what version of Windows 10 your PC is running after the upgrade. For example, if your PC is running Windows 10 Version 1511, you have a month to go back to your previous operating system. If your PC is running Windows 10 Version 1607, you have 10 days to go back.

Hidden by Anniversary Update issues?

Users who are running in serious trouble after installing Anniversary Update has to rollback immediately (and they shall hope, that the downgrade to the previous build will work). Afterward they have to block the feature update. Therefore they need a the tool wushowhide.diagcab, offered with KB3073930.

1. Launch wushowhide.diagcab via a double click and use Next button to step trough the wizard.

2. Select Hide updates and wait, until the update packages are enlisted.

Select the Feature Update for Windows 10 Version 1607 and block the installation. Overall I recommend to use a good backup tool from a third party vendor to create an image backup from a system that works pretty well. For my own environment, I decided to stay at Windows 7 SP1 on all production machines and run Windows 10 only on test machines and VMs.

Rollback is superfluous

My personal opinion: The rollback feature of Windows 10 doesn’t makes sense (for Microsoft) after the free upgrade from Win7/8.1 ends. Using a rollback to revert a Windows 10 feature update to a previous build doesn’t make sense, because Microsoft will stop delivering security updates for older Windows 10 builds after a short while. And blocking a feature update is tricky and depends on foreign tools not shipped with the operating system. Welcome to the new world of Windows as a service, where you completely depends on Microsoft’s will “what’s good for you”.

So I guess, the rollback feature will be removed in a future build of Windows 10. I should also note, that Windows 10 rollback feature isn’t reliable as many users though. Just two cases I observed:

  • I’ve had upgraded a Windows 8.1 machine to Windows 10. During upgrade I was notified about to less free space – but I could select an external USB drive for temporary storage. After upgrading and activating Windows 10 I wasn’t able to downgrade to Windows 8.1 – because of missing free space – bam! The only option left: Use an old image backup I’ve created for this machine.
  • I’ve had upgrades my wife’s Windows 7 SP1 production machine to Windows 10 (to keep the free upgrade offer valid). After activation I did a rollback to Windows 7 SP1. It worked, but afterward, I observed that all desktop shortcut icons was overlaid with a lock symbol. I’ve blogged about that in a German article Gesperrte Dateien nach Rollback von Windows 10 mit Schloss – Teil 1.

I read also similar experiences from other users in Microsoft Answers forum. Also user working with “cleaning” tools or wiping data using Windows features are destroying the rollback option. So at the end of the day I luckily had working image backups that enabled me to restore a proper system. In my opinion: Only Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB could be (in long term view, after Windows 7 SP1 support ends) an option for business use.

If you have different opinions or experiences, feel free to drop a comment. My blog post has two goals: inform users about some insides – and to start a discussion about those “cool features”.

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