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Assign devices to servicing branches for Windows 10 updates

Dani Halfin|Last Updated: 2/9/2017
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1 Contributor

Applies to

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 10 Mobile

Looking for consumer information? See Windows Update: FAQ

Tip

If you're not familiar with the Windows 10 servicing or release branches, read Servicing branches first.

Current Branch is the default servicing branch for all Windows 10 devices except those with the long-term servicing branch edition installed. The following table shows the servicing branches available to each edition of Windows 10.

Windows 10 editionCurrent branch (CB)Current branch for business (CBB)Long-term servicing branch (LTSB)Insider Program
Homeyesnonoyes
Proyesyesnoyes
Enterpriseyesyesnoyes
Enterprise LTSBnonoyesno
Pro Educationyesyesnoyes
Educationyesyesnoyes
Mobileyesnonoyes
Mobile Enterpriseyesyesnoyes
Note

The LTSB edition of Windows 10 is only available through the Microsoft Volume Licensing Center.

Assign devices to Current Branch for Business

To assign a single PC locally to CBB

  1. Go to Settings > Update & security > Windows Update > Advanced options.
  2. Select Defer feature updates.

To assign PCs to CBB using Group Policy

  • In Windows 10, version 1511:

    Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Defer Upgrades and Updates

  • In Windows 10, version 1607:

    Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Defer Windows Updates > Select when Feature Updates are received - enable policy and set branch readiness level to CBB

To assign PCs to CBB using MDM

  • In Windows 10, version 1511:

    ../Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Update/RequireDeferredUpgrade

  • In Windows 10, version 1607:

    ../Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Update/BranchReadinessLevel

To assign Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise to CBB using MDM

  • In Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise, version 1511:

    ../Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Update/RequireDeferredUpgrade

  • In Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise, version 1607:

    ../Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Update/BranchReadinessLevel

Enroll devices in the Windows Insider Program

Enrolling devices in the Windows Insider Program is simple and requires only a Microsoft account. To enroll a device in the Windows Insider Program, complete the following steps on the device that you want to enroll:

  1. Go to Start > Settings > Update & security > Windows Insider Program.

  2. Select Get started.

    Note

    If you didn’t use a Microsoft account to log in to the computer, you’ll be prompted to log in. If you don’t have a Microsoft account, you can create one now.

  3. Read the privacy statement and program terms, and then click Next.

  4. Click Confirm, and then select a time to restart the computer.

Install your first preview build from the Windows Insider Program

After enrolling your devices, you are ready to install your first preview build. To do so, go to Start > Settings > Update & security > Windows Insider Program to select your Insider level. The device receives the most recent Windows Insider build for the Insider level you select.

The options for Insider level are:

  • Release Preview: Insiders on this level receive builds of Windows just before Microsoft releases them for CB. Although these builds aren’t final, they are the most complete and stable builds available to Windows Insider Program participants. This level provides the best testing platform for organizations that conduct early application compatibility testing on Windows Insider PCs.
  • Slow: The Slow Windows Insider level is for users who enjoy seeing new builds of Windows with minimal risk to their devices but still want to provide feedback to Microsoft about their experience with the new build.
  • Fast: This level is best for Insiders who would like to be the first to experience new builds of Windows, participate in identifying and reporting issues to Microsoft, and provide suggestions on new functionality.
Note

Once your machine is updated to Windows 10 and you select your desired flight ring, the process known as "Compatibility check" will need to run in the background. There is no manual way to force this process to run. This process allows for the discovery of your OS type (32-bit, 64-bit), build edition (Home, Pro, Enterprise), country and language settings, and other required information. Once this process is complete, your machine will be auto-targeted for the next available flight for your selected ring. For the first build on any given machine, this may take up to 24 hours to complete.

Block access to Windows Insider Program

To prevent devices in your enterprise from being enrolled in the Insider Program for early releases of Windows 10:

  • Group Policy: Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Data Collection and Preview Builds\Toggle user control over Insider builds
  • MDM: Policy CSP - System/AllowBuildPreview

Switching branches

During the life of a device, it may be necessary or desirable to switch between the available branches. Depending on the branch you are using, the exact mechanism for doing this can be different; some will be simple, others more involved.

From this branchTo this branchYou need to
Windows Insider ProgramCurrent BranchWait for the final Current Branch release.
Current Branch for BusinessNot directly possible, because Windows Insider Program devices are automatically upgraded to the Current Branch release at the end of the development cycle.
Long-Term Servicing BranchNot directly possible (requires wipe-and-load).
Current BranchInsiderUse the Settings app to enroll the device in the Windows Insider Program.
Current Branch for BusinessSelect the Defer upgrade setting, or move the PC to a target group or flight that will not receive the next upgrade until it is business ready. Note that this change will not have any immediate impact; it only prevents the installation of the next Current Branch release.
Long-Term Servicing BranchNot directly possible (requires wipe-and-load).
Current Branch for BusinessInsiderUse the Settings app to enroll the device in the Windows Insider Program.
Current BranchDisable the Defer upgrade setting, or move the device to a target group or flight that will receive the latest Current Branch release.
Long-Term Servicing BranchNot directly possible (requires wipe-and-load).
Long-Term Servicing BranchInsiderUse media to upgrade to the latest Windows Insider Program build.
Current BranchUse media to upgrade to a later Current Branch build. (Note that the Current Branch build must be a later build.)
Current Branch for BusinessUse media to upgrade to a later Current Branch for Business build (Current Branch build plus fixes). Note that it must be a later build.

Steps to manage updates for Windows 10

doneLearn about updates and servicing branches
donePrepare servicing strategy for Windows 10 updates
doneBuild deployment rings for Windows 10 updates
doneAssign devices to servicing branches for Windows 10 updates (this topic)
to doOptimize update delivery for Windows 10 updates
to doManage updates using Windows Update for Business
or Manage Windows 10 updates using Windows Server Update Services
or Manage Windows 10 updates using System Center Configuration Manager

Block user access to Windows Update settings

In Windows 10, administrators can control user access to Windows Update. By enabling the Group Policy setting under Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows update\Remove access to use all Windows update features, administrators can disable the "Check for updates" option for users. Any background update scans, downloads and installations will continue to work as configured.

Note

In Windows 10, any Group Policy user configuration settings for Windows Update were deprecated and are no longer supported on this platform.

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