Tech Overlook

AI powers Windows 10 April 2018 Update rollout


Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to be a key area of investment for Microsoft, and we’re pleased to announce that for the first time we’ve leveraged AI at scale to greatly improve the quality and reliability of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update rollout.  Our AI approach intelligently selects devices that our feedback data indicate would have a great update experience and offers the April 2018 Update to these devices first.  As our rollout progresses, we continuously collect update experience data and retrain our models to learn which devices will have a positive update experience, and where we may need to wait until we have higher confidence in a great experience.  Our overall rollout objective is for a safe and reliable update, which means we only go as fast as is safe.

Early returns are very positive: With over 250 million machines on the April 2018 Update, we are seeing higher satisfaction numbers, fewer known issues, and lower support call volumes compared to previous Windows 10 releases.

Our AI/Machine Learning approach started with a pilot program during the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update rollout.  We studied characteristics of devices that data indicated had a great update experience and trained our model to spot and target those devices.  In our limited trial during the Fall Creators Update rollout, we consistently saw a higher rate of positive update experiences for devices identified using the AI model, with fewer rollbacks, uninstalls, reliability issues, and negative user feedback. For the April 2018 Update rollout, we substantially expanded the scale of AI by developing a robust AI machine learning model to teach the system how to identify the best target devices based on our extensive listening systems.

AI means both safe AND fast

Our AI approach has enabled us to quickly spot issues during deployment of a feature update, and as a result has also allowed us to go faster responsibly.  In fact, the April 2018 Update is officially the fastest version of Windows 10 to reach 250 million devices, achieving that mark in less than half the time it took the Fall Creators Update!

When our AI model, feedback or telemetry data indicate that there may be an issue, we quickly adjust and prevent affected devices from being offered the update until we thoroughly investigate.  Once issues are resolved we proceed again with confidence.  This allows us to throttle the update rollout to customers without them needing to take any action.

In cases where devices already offered the update may see issues, we communicate via our customer service forums to let our customers know what is occurring and actions we are taking.  A recent example from the past month was a black screen/reboot issue we detected within 24 hours of it first appearing. We immediately blocked all PCs that could be impacted by this issue from being updated, and communicated to customers within 24 hours, including an initial work around. In the next 24 hours, in cooperation with Avast, Microsoft identified an element of the Avast Behavior Shield that conflicted with the April 2018 Update. Avast immediately released a fix to prevent this issue from further occurring, enabling us to continue to safely roll out the April 2018 Update to those devices.

Windows 10 continually improving quality

We are also seeing quality improvements in Windows 10, which is approaching 700 million monthly active devices.  Early data shows the quality of the April 2018 Update exceeding earlier versions of Windows 10 in both reliability and performance.  Of course, this work is never done, and we continue to partner to with our hardware and software partners to drive additional performance and reliability improvements in Windows 10.  Improvements in the April 2018 Update include:

  • 20% reduction in system stability issues
  • 20% total reduction in operating system and driver stability issues, in collaboration with our hardware partners, on over 400k ecosystem drivers
  • Faster updates by reducing the amount of time your device is offline updating by up to 63%
    (Fun Fact: telemetry shows a U.S.-based PC updated from the Fall Creators Update to the April 2018 update in just over three minutes!)
  • Edge launch times improved by up to 40-50% (post-logon window)

Our internal customer support teams are seeing a continued reduction in call and online support requests for Windows 10 with the April 2018 Update.  Our OEMs also continue to experience reductions in monthly customer support volumes with this update.

More devices, declining customer support volume:

Graph showing Windows 10 users and customer support contacts

Windows 10 April 2018 Update (1803) is now fully available

Based on the update quality and reliability we are seeing through our AI approach, we are now expanding the release broadly to make the April 2018 Update (version 1803) fully available for all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide. Full availability is the final phase of our rollout process. You don’t have to do anything to get the update; it will rollout automatically to you through Windows Update.

Enterprise customers can also follow the same targeted approach for the Semi-Annual Channel and fully deploy Windows 10, version 1803 when ready.  IT administrators can decide when to broadly deploy once you have validated the apps, devices, and infrastructure in your organization work well with this release.  For an update overview see What’s new for IT pros in Windows 10, version 1803.  Additionally, you can leverage Windows Analytics tools that help you plan, test and deploy Windows 10 to your organization, and help accelerate Windows 10 migration. You can learn more about Windows Analytics tools and the Semi-Annual Channel releases.

An up-to-date device is the most secure device

The ability to rollout an updated version of Windows 10 safely at massive scale and velocity leveraging AI allows us to ensure the broadest number of customer devices have the latest security, technology and features in the shortest period.  As I’ve noted many times, we’re always actively listening. If you have any feedback, please share it with us via the Feedback Hub app.



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