Insides: Windows 10 19H2 development/deployment (V1909)

[German]Within this blog post I would like to cover some insides about the the development and delivery of Windows 10, version 1909. The Microsoft Insider Team has revealed some information in a webcast session. Here is now a quick excerpt for readers in a hurry.


Background: Insider Webcast

From time to time, the Microsoft Insider Team holds so-called webcasts for Windows Insiders. There Microsoft developers take part and give insight into their work. I myself regularly miss these webcasts (forget it, no time/to time consuming etc.). And if the information is under a non disclosure agreement (NDA), it's not helpful for me as a blogger. Yesterday, November 21, 2019, another insider webcast took place, which can be viewed now in the mixer channel

The above tweet by blog reader Karl directed me to take a quick look at the recorded webcast. Since the webcast can now be accessed publicly, I no longer see myself bound by my NDA. Therefore I have summarized the whole thing in a few sentences of text and reproduce the following compressed.

Delivery Options for Windows 10 Version 1909

In the webcast, Microsoft developers addressed the following questions related to Windows 10 development. The core point are the changes in 19H2 Delivery, e.g. the way the Windows 10 November 2019 update is rolled out.

Mixer: Windows 10 19H2-Webcast


Microsoft had already announced during the release of Windows 10 May 2019 update, that the feature update for Windows 10 19H2 will be made via Windows Update as a 'normal update'. The following slide shows the key points that are new in the feature update to the development branch 19H2 (Windows 10 V1909).

Mixer: Windows 10 19H2-Webcast New with 19H2 Delivery

I had already explained in various blog posts (e.g. Windows 10 V1909 is called November 2019 Update and Windows 10 V1909 released, how to get this update?) some details. Microsoft rolls out the same updates for Windows 10 Version 1903 and Version 1909. So both Windows 10 builds have the same code internally. All you need now is a Enablement Update (KB4517245), which unlocks the relevant features for the Windows 10 November 2019 update. 

Funktionsupdate für Windows 10, Version 1909

This package is offvered via an update search as a Feature update for Windows 10, version 1909 – an optional update (see figure above). The download and installation of this feature update need to be initiated explicitly via the Download and Install Now hyperlink. So not much has changed for a user, compared to the delivery of the feature update to Windows 10 version 1903.

Mixer: Windows 10 19H2-Webcast Changes in 19H2 Delivery

Behind the scenes, however, this has resulted in enormous changes, as the above slide illustrates. If earlier Windows 10 feature updates still transfer packages up to 3.5 gigabytes in size, the 19H1 development branch will be different. Windows 10 Version 1903 already has the code of Windows 10 Version 1909, but the new features have not yet been released. Without the last cumulative update a maximum of 330 MByte will be downloaded in a feature update install. If all cumulative updates are already available, the enabler update needs a maximum of 180 KB to download. The entire update process from Windows 10 Version 1903 to Version 1909 should run much faster than an earlier feature update. The prerequisite, however, is that all cumulative updates are already installed on Windows 10 Version 1909.

Note: When switching from Windows 10 Version 1809 or earlier, nothing changes for the feature update – you still have to download the 3.5 GByte. But I had already explained this in the blog in various articles.

What does it look like for WSUS?

In the following slide, the developers summarize the situation for administrators in corporate environments who manage updates via Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

Mixer: Windows 10 19H2-Webcast Changes in 19H2 Delivery WSUS

For upgrading older builds prior to version 1903, WSUS does not change anything from earlier builds. All options to roll out the new Windows 10 version 1909 are still available. For the Windows 19 Version 1903 development branch 19H1, ISO and ESC installation media are available to roll out Windows 10. So there is nothing new there either. To upgrade to Windows 10 Version 1909 (19H2) from Windows 10 V1903, WSUS also offers the Enablement Package as Update KB451724. The advantage there is also that the package size is very small and the upgrade of the clients is faster.

Advantages of the new approach and other questions

The developers summarize the new approach to rolling out the 19H2 feature update in the following slide. A system running Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903) requires less than 25 megabytes of disk space to migrate to version 1909. This is ultimately the cumulative enablement update that is saved.

Mixer: Windows 10 19H2-Webcast: Details

However, it is important that the internal system files are still up to date with build 18362. Only Winver, WMI and the API calls for version queries provide the build 18363.

This could explain the behavior outlined within the article Windows 10 V1909: Strange Update Status …. Bits jammed? – something hasn't been changed cleanly yet.

Will this delivery be used in future?

In the webcast, the developers then answer the question as to whether they want to keep this delivery option in future and where the challenges of the new experiment were. The following slide summarizes it. The development of the Windows 10 version 1909 with delivery as a cumulative update was a 'pilot project'!

Mixer: Windows 10 19H2-Webcast: FAQ - Future Plans

There are no formal plans to do this in the future. Rather, one observes the feedback now and then decides whether it was a crazy idea and can go away or be retained. So it is the admission of an 'open-heart operation' by the willing Windows 10 users – regardless of whether they are private or corporate customers. Courageous, courageous.

When a device is not offered a feature update

In the second question from the above slide it is again clarified why a device is not offered the Windows 10 V1909 Feature Update. All recommended updates must be installed on the Windows 10 client before the Enablement Update is offered. However, the company wants to optimize this in the next few months.

In case of compatibility issues, Microsoft can set an upgrade stopper anyway, but this can then be used for Windows 10 Version 1903 and 1909.

Huh, pant's down: Surgery on an open 'Windows heart'?

In another slide the team let 'the pants down'. The project was probably not that simple and elegant as thought. The slide below contains the core statements of the team. It was early clear that Microsoft (after the disaster with the delivery of the Windows 10 versions 1803 and 1809) had to come up with something different for feature update delivery. The rough idea was to roll out the feature updates in autumn as ordinary updates.

Mixer: Windows 10 19H2-Webcast: FAQ - the Challenge

In retrospect, however, this proved to be the biggest challenge in Windows 10 development. How do you get the code for the V1903 and 1909 to be the same, but the 1909 version shows the correct version? And this even though the files remain on build 18362? It took the developers five months to find the variant the have chosen between now different design options and implement the customizations.

On the one hand, I take my hat off to the developers and their ideas. On the other hand, it shows how shaky the Windows as a Service development can be. Every decision I made may be prove wrong within a year. Then the team has to put their energy into a solution to fix a wrong decision – and is grounded for other things. 

More unstable network connection in 19H2?

In the last slide, the developers answer the question of various users that the network in build 19H2 of Windows 10 has become more unstable. Since the code of the V1903 and 1909 is the same, nothing has changed internally for Windows 10.

Mixer: Windows 10 19H2-Webcast: FAQ - the Issues

The developers therefore assume that there is still a bug that must already be included in Windows 10 Version 1903. Those with network problems should run the Network Troubleshooter and make sure that all network drivers are up-to-date.

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