Enable and control optional updates for your organization

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This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.

You can now have greater control over how users of devices in your organization receive optional Windows updates. We care deeply and work hard to develop optional updates that support productivity. Now you have greater timing flexibility to preview and implement improvements on Windows 11, version 22H2 and later.

Let’s review what’s special about optional updates before jumping into practical ways for you to control them.

About optional Windows updates

Optional non-security preview releases are part of regular device maintenance. You’re probably most familiar with the optional latest cumulative updates (LCUs), which are typically released every fourth week of the month. These optional updates include non-security updates, fixes, features, and improvements. By getting these updates, you can get new productivity features and some fixes early, such as important time zone changes. To see how optional updates fit in the monthly update cadence, consult Windows monthly updates explained.

One form of optional updates are gradual feature rollouts. These are also known as controlled feature rollouts (CFR) or continuous innovation. This is the unique Windows 11 commitment to bring you the best experiences year-round through proven and controllable mechanisms. You can review how these updates work in Delivering continuous innovation in Windows 11.

So how can you ensure that your organization gets these valuable improvements with the right level of control?

A new policy to control optional updates in Windows 11

So far, you’ve had access to Commercial control for continuous innovation (Windows 11) for select features that might significantly affect organizational productivity. These features are intentionally introduced in an “off” state, but you’ve been able to turn them on with the policy “Enable features introduced via servicing that are off by default [1]."

Today, you can go even further to enable optional non-security updates, including gradual feature rollouts (also known as CFRs). This new policy is called “Enable optional updates.” If you enable this policy, you can further select how users receive these updates:

  • Automatically receive optional updates (including CFRs). Select this option for devices to get the latest optional non-security updates, including gradual feature rollouts. There is no change to feature update offering.
  • Automatically receive optional updates. Select this option for devices to only get the latest optional non-security updates. They won’t automatically receive gradual feature rollouts. There is no change to feature update offering.
  • Users can select what optional updates to receive. Select this option to allow users to set their own preferences with respect to optional non-security updates. There is no change to feature update offering.

Note: All options respect all of your configured quality update deferral settings.

Devices should see no changes unless this policy is set. 

Screenshot of the policy for “Enable optional updates”Screenshot of the policy for “Enable optional updates”

Here’s where you can find this policy for devices managed with Windows Update for Business or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS):

  • Group Policy: /Windows Components/Windows Update/Manage end user experience/Enable optional non-security updates
  • Configuration Service Provider (CSP) Policy: /Policy/Config/Update/AllowOptionalContent

Learn more about this policy at https://aka.ms/AllowOptionalContent.

What your users should do

Until you configure or disable this policy, there’s nothing for your users to do. However, if you decide to configure this policy and enable your users to choose what updates to receive, please remind them that they have two ways to do so:

  • Select which optional non-security updates to get from Settings > Windows Update > Advanced options > Optional updates.
  • Enable the toggle “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available” under Settings > Windows Update. Note: This will require a restart of the device.

Of course, some users might opt for doing nothing until these optional updates make their way to the device as usual. No matter which option they choose, be assured that your user devices will still get the regular security updates just the way you have them configured.

Use the following support article to help get your users ready to experience the new improvements as early as possible: Get Windows updates as soon as they're available for your device.

Please refer to official documentation for this policy at Configure Windows Update for Business and Configure Windows Update for Business via Group Policy.

Continue the conversation. Find best practices. Bookmark the Windows Tech Community and follow us @MSWindowsITPro on Twitter. Looking for support? Visit Windows on Microsoft Q&A.

[1] There is no change to the commercial control for continuous innovation that we announced in February. Innovations behind this control will only be delivered in the next feature update.

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