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How to block the Windows 10 May 2021 Update, version 21H1, from installing

It’s that semi-annual time again when a new Windows 10 feature update is imminent — and when you need to decide whether or not you want to participate in its unpaid beta testing process. Microsoft makes it easy for you to opt into beta testing, but not as easy to opt out.

Sure, Microsoft says its Windows Insider program is its beta testing program for new releases of Windows 10, but I honestly consider that more of a mechanism for marketing new features. It’s only when a new Windows 10 feature release is offered up to the public — and begins to run on all of the different hardware that we have out here in Windowsland — that the true testing begins.

Often people question the need for twice-annual feature releases, and in most cases, it’s hard to point to any feature that the vast majority of Windows users need. Rather, the feature update process ends up providing a “clean up” of your Windows 10 machine and ensures its future health. Often I’ve used the feature release process to repair a Windows 10 machine that refused to install updates and was throwing off error messages.

In addition, the installation of a feature update will extend the support window for your machine. For example, Windows 10 version 1909 stops being supported on May 11, 2021. Installing Windows 10 2004 immediately extends the support to December 14, 2021. If you are on the 20H2 version of Windows 10, it’s supported until May 10, 2022.

But while installing feature updates helps sustain a PC in the long run, brand new Windows 10 feature releases often have stability and compatibility issues. For that reason, it’s best to keep them off your production systems for at least the first several months they’re available.

I use the release of a new feature update to be the sign that I need to ensure that all of my main computers are on the prior release. I prefer to stay one release behind, as it typically provides me with a stable system, and I’m able to identify what issues I may face.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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