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Microsoft’s Windows 10 2004 arrives (but not for everyone right away)

Microsoft on Wednesday released the spring feature upgrade for Windows 10, dubbed Windows 10 May 2020 Update, a.k.a. version 2004, and likely the only real refresh of the year.

“We are starting to make the May 2020 Update available,” said John Cable, director of program management in the Windows delivery and servicing team, in a May 27 post to a company blog.

Beginning Thursday, some customers with unmanaged PCs — those not maintained by an IT administrator or staff — could opt in by manually checking for updates and then clicking the “Download and install” link. (Windows 10 May 2020 won’t immediately show for everyone because Microsoft is taking its usual gradual approach to rolling out the upgrade, offering 2004 in stages to an increasing number of users beginning with those whose devices Microsoft believes are the most likely to successfully install the refresh.)

The launch of Windows 10 2004 also kicked off the version’s 18-month support lifecycle. All editions, including Enterprise and Education, will be supported on Windows 10 May 2020 until Dec. 14, 2021.

Seek and ye shall upgrade … perchance

In a normal world, Windows 10 2004 might have been released a month or more ago. (Its four-digit label was altered from the usual yy03 format not because of its intended debut date but because Microsoft worried that the traditional marker (2003) might be confused with the obsolete Windows Server 2003.) After all, this upgrade had been finished, more or less, as long ago as December 2019. Although Microsoft said nothing about 2004’s timing — it rarely acknowledges delays or their reasons — the COVID-19 pandemic may have convinced it to hold on to the refresh for a little longer.

Other than those who explicitly demand the upgrade — called “seekers” by many — and those whom Microsoft deems as owning the likeliest PCs to take the upgrade without issues, the other group that may see 2004 sooner rather than later are people now running Windows 10 1809.

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