Block Windows 10 forced updates without breaking your machine, part 1

The crowdsourced results are in, and it looks like Wushowhide does yeoman's work

Block Windows 10 forced updates without breaking your machine, part 1
Credit: Globalite

I'm happy to say that the experiment using Wushowhide to block the latest forced Windows 10 Cumulative Update, KB 3140768 -- the one that brings Windows 10 up to version 1511 build 10586.164 -- was a resounding success. (It's the 10th cumulative update to Windows 10 version 1511, so I call it Win 10.1.10.) With hundreds of you reporting in locations all over the world, I haven't heard of one failure: Everybody who ran Wushowhide in time managed to successfully thwart the forced update.

If you participated in the crowdsourced experiment to block the update to Win 10.1.10 and you're still on Win 10.1.9 ("Windows 10 version 1511 build 10586.122"), please follow the steps outlined a few paragraphs down if you want to reverse the changes and move on to Win 10.1.10.

In a nutshell, the experiment had you download and run the Microsoft utility called Wushowhide. In the past, I've always found it necessary to let a suspicious patch install on Windows 10 before I could successfully uninstall and then block it -- you had to let the snake bite before you could use the antivenin.

I was wrong.

Noel Carboni, posting on AskWoody.com, convinced me that Wushowhide would work before the patch installed. The trick is to catch the patch after it was available on your machine, but before Windows Update managed to install it.

Last Tuesday presented a wonderful opportunity because Microsoft of late has been in the habit of releasing Windows 10 cumulative updates at the same time it releases Patch Tuesday security patches. For those of you who were adept enough to run Wushowhide and hide KB 3140768 after it was released, but before it was absorbed into your system, your machines stayed at Win 10.1.9, and the forced patch passed your PC by.

You can verify your machine's current version by typing winver in the Cortana search box. If you still have 10.1.9, you see "Version 1511 (OS Build 10586.122)." If your machine has moved on to 10.1.10, you see "Version 1511 (OS Build 10586.164)."

There have been a few problems with the latest Cumulative Update. I've seen installation issues, which are frequent for all of the cumulative updates, and there's a lot of talk about mice and game controller problems, Xbox One controller, Speak and Ubisoft's Uplay hassles, all apparently inherited from 10.1.9, persisting in 10.1.10.

If you don't want to move to 10.1.10, you don't have to. That's the beauty of this method for blocking forced update. Maybe Microsoft will fix the problems in 10.1.11, maybe not. Sure, there are security patches, but according to the SANS Internet Storm Center, there aren't any exploits running around yet.

With that warning, here's how to unwind the changes you made when you joined the crowdsourced test:

  1. Make sure this procedure is for you. You should have Wushowhide downloaded, and you should've already used it to hide a patch. In this case, you should've hidden KB 3140768. If you didn't hide KB 3140768, skip to the end of the steps, so you can see where we're headed next.
  2. Run Wushowhide (if it isn't on your desktop, just type "wushowhide" in the Cortana search box and push Enter). Click the link marked Advanced. Uncheck the box marked Apply repairs automatically. Click Next. Win10 goes out and looks for available patches, as well as hidden patches. Click Show Hidden Updates. You should see KB 3140768 in the list.
  3. Check the box marked "Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1511 for x64-based Systems (KB3140768)" and click Next.
  4. Wushowhide will tell you that it "Fixed" the "Problems found" -- weird terminology, but it means that the KB has been unhidden. Click Close.

At that point, you don't need to do anything. The next time Windows Update runs (when you log on or, most likely, overnight) or if you run Windows Update manually (Start > Settings > Update & security, then click Check for updates), you'll be asked to reboot, and when it's all done, you'll be updated to Win 10.1.10.

You no doubt noticed that I call this approach "part 1." It works, but only if you're fast enough to run Wushowhide after the patch is released, but before the snake bit down.

The obvious part 2: Find a way to slow down or stop the automatic snakebites.

The Web is full of tricks for blocking or delaying Windows Update in Win10. My favorite -- because it relies on Microsoft's own feature -- relies on the metered connection hack, which I described last August.  Unless you have a wired Internet connection, it's a great way to control the floodgates and get Win10 to back off on its updates until you're ready to accept them.

If you've been using metered connections to block Windows 10 Updates and you've ever had a patch sneak through, I'd sure like to hear about it, either in the comments below or over on AskWoody.

Those of you on wired Internet connections aren't so lucky. Blocking Windows Update involves short-circuiting Microsoft's built-in checking mechanism. I don't take that approach lightly. I'm very concerned about stopping Windows Update for a host of reasons, but blocking Windows Update (and running it manually when you need new patches) seems to be doable and nondestructive.

I'm looking at various ways to block Win10's Update and trying to settle on an approach that works for everybody (Win10 Home and Pro alike), without interfering with truly important updates, including Windows Defender, MSRT, and anything else that relies on WU. Noel Carboni on AskWoody recommends using gpedit (which is only available in Win10 Pro) to set the Configure Automatic Updates task to Disabled. There are other methods to turn off Windows Update, and I'm considering them, too.

If you have any specific experience with blocking WU in Windows 10, I'd sure like to hear about it.

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