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Windows Feature Updates

Microsoft provides “feature updates” once or twice a year for both Windows 10 and Windows 11. These feature updates add new capabilities to Windows, including security improvements. To take advantage of these security improvements and to stay within the appropriate support period for Windows, Drexel IT manages the upgrade process for university-owned computers so that computers are not left running with old and unsupported operating systems 

When Microsoft publishes a feature update, Drexel IT and other IT departments across the university test it for compatibility with other university-licensed software. Feature updates are expected to be automatically installed on most university-owned Windows computers within five months of release. Faculty and professional staff wishing to receive feature updates sooner than the rest of the university may choose to opt in to receiving the updates prior to the rest of the university. If you are interested in opting in, please contact the Drexel IT Help Desk. Note, you will need to opt-in each time there is a feature update for early access.

When automatic updating begins, computers will update overnight so that workdays are not interrupted. Those who choose to manually install a feature update via Software Center should be aware that the process can take one to two hours, during which they cannot use their computers. 

To maintain a more secure environment, feature updates are required for all Drexel-owned computers that run Windows 10 or 11. Computers that skip two consecutive updates, may need to be erased and set up again. Although data files are preserved during the process, non-standard programs aren’t re-installed, customizations to your user profile are lost, and the computer is out of service for several days.

Feature Update FAQs

How long does the Feature Update take to install?

The automatic install happens at night so there is no loss in productive office time.

Manual installations may take 1-2 hours, and during part of this time you will not be able to use your computer. 

How do I manually run the Feature Update?

Open the Software Center application, and click on the Updates tab on the left hand side. If a feature update is available, you can select it and start the install at your convenience.

If you do not see a Feature Update available, there's a chance you may already have it. Consult the "How do I know which version of Windows I am running?" question to confirm what version you have. If you find you should be eligible for an update, these may be the reasons why you do not see it:

  • If you're off campus, make sure you've been connected to the VPN for at least 30 minutes, uninterrupted.
  • You may be running software that has been reported as incompatible, and thus the Feature Update was made unavailable to your computer.
  • You may be missing a required pre-requisite Windows Update that needs to be installed first (you would see that in the Updates tab of Software Center).
  • Your college/local IT support may have asked Drexel IT to hold off on releasing the Feature Update to your area.

In any of the cases listed above, you may need to consult the Help Desk or your local IT support for troubleshooting assistance. To best assist you, we recommend providing them the following information (the more information the better!):

  • Your Computer Name and Version of Windows you are running.
  • The location of the computer and what it is connected to: 
    • Are you on-campus or off-campus?
      • If you are off campus, have you been connected to Drexel VPN for more than 30 minutes uninterrupted?
      • If you are on campus, are you connected via Ethernet (network cable) or Wireless (Dragonfly3)?
  • A screenshot of your Updates tab from Software Center.

The Help Desk or your Local IT Support may need to collect logs to further troubleshoot the issue. If that is the case, they will work with you to obtain them.

Is there a way to opt-out of feature updates?

No, except in the case of some specialized devices with embedded computers. Feature updates ensure that computers at the university are kept secure, up-to-date, and supported. Without this, the personal information that Drexel faculty and professional staff work with on our computers could be at risk.

How do I know which version of Windows I am running?

Click on the Start button, and in the search box, type winver. Press Enter on your Keyboard. The second line of the pop-up screen shows your Windows version number. 

Currently Drexel supports Windows 10 22H2, and Windows 11 22H2 & 23H2. If you are running any version of Windows 10 older than 22H2, or Windows 11 23H2, we recommend you upgrade as soon as possible following the provided instructions.

My home computer received the latest feature update from Microsoft, but my Drexel Computer has not. How can I get the latest update?

Drexel's release of a Windows feature update follows Microsoft’s release schedule by several months. During this time, we test numerous key Drexel-licensed applications, to ensure compatibility. Additionally, we test both upgrades of existing computer installs and fresh-install scenarios to make sure applications work in all use cases.

The testing is usually completed in two to three months, and made fully available to the university community shortly thereafter, barring any unforeseen circumstances. However, releases may be delayed if there is a compatibility issue found.

What happens if my computer cannot install the feature update?

If a feature update is unable to be installed, Drexel IT or your local IT support will make an effort to troubleshoot why the install did not complete. However, if all options are exhausted your computer may need to be set up again or, if it’s very old, replaced.

What should I do if the Feature Update is stuck/not responding?

If your computer appears to be "stuck" on the Windows Feature Update, please contact the Help Desk or your local IT support as soon as possible for guidance. Unless instructed, do not restart your computer. You may be asked to provide a picture or detailed information as to where your computer is in the process for appropriate next steps.

What happens if an application I use no longer works after a feature update?

While this is almost always a rare case due to our extensive testing of all of the common university applications, do let the Help Desk or your local IT Support know right away so we can look at compatibility options or possibly roll you back (if done within 7 days). You may also want to check with the software publisher to see if they have a new version that works with the latest feature update. 

We are aware that printing reports from Hyperion is no longer an option with these newer Feature Updates. A workaround has been issued by AIS and is available on their website under their troubleshooting documentation.

Administrative units that support enterprise applications at the University may also send bulletins regarding compatibility issues to their end users directly.

My start menu customizations appear to be missing? Is there a way to get them back?

It is possible that some Start Menu customizations may be reset after a Feature Update, especially if your computer was on an older release of Windows 10 or upgraded from Windows 10 to Windows 11. It is a good idea every once in a while to take a screen shot of your customizations should you need to restore your computer's configuration to exactly the way you would like.