In Windows 10, Windows Update sometimes offers you an “Optional Quality Update”. Unlike other updates, Windows won’t install these automatically, so what exactly are they? Should you install them?
Windows Update will not install it automatically
An “optional quality update”
However, some updates are optional. These fix stability and other problems in Windows. Some of these may be optional hardware driver updates. You have the choice whether or not to install it – it’s up to you.
What is a “cumulative update preview”?
One of the most common optional quality updates is a “cumulative update preview.” Microsoft releases cumulative updates once a month on Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of every month.
These updates bundle many fixes for various problems into a large package. Rather than releasing a slow series of updates throughout the month, Microsoft is bundling them all into one big update.
These packages are called “cumulative” because they contain all fixes from previous months in one package. For example, if you have not turned on a computer for several months, the one-month cumulative update contains all fixes from previous months. Windows only needs to install one major update, saving you time and avoiding unnecessary reboots.
Microsoft does not have every fix for the cumulative update. This way, important security updates are released immediately without waiting.
By the end of most months, Microsoft provides a “cumulative update preview” in Windows Update. (Microsoft generally skips the late December cumulative update preview.) These preview updates contain all the fixes that will be released to everyone on the next Patch Tuesday in non-optional form.
For example, in November 2020, Microsoft released the cumulative update for 2020-11 on November 30, 2020. If you do not choose to install it, your PC will get the latest, non-preview version of the ‘cumulative update’. a few weeks later on the next Patch Tuesday – in our example, that’s December 8, 2020.
RELATED: What is Patch Tuesday for Windows and when is it?
These are “C” and “D” updates
By the way, if you are familiar with Windows update terminology, you may know these cumulative preview updates by a different name. Microsoft calls these “C” and “D” updates, depending on whether they are released in the third or fourth week of each month.
The last stable cumulative update released next month is known as a “B” update. That’s because it was released in the second week of the month.
Preview updates turn you into a software tester
The word “preview” is a hint that will help Microsoft test the update by installing it. Microsoft is counting on a large number of people to notice the update and choose to install it. Microsoft is calling people who visit the Windows Update page and choose to manually install updates “searchers” who are looking for updates.
By installing the update only for these motivated “searchers”, Microsoft can see if the update is causing problems on several Windows 10 PCs. If it does, Microsoft can hit the pause button or fix the update before it’s available to everyone on Patch Tuesday.
Consider these monthly preview updates as similar to Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program. People who want to test new versions of the software can get it early, while those who are reluctant to install new Windows updates can wait.
Do you need to install the optional update?
If you’re having a problem with your PC, installing the optional update is one way to get a fix for that problem weeks in advance. They are usually fairly stable and are much more stable than early versions of Windows 10 intended for people who sign up for the “Windows Insider” testing program.
However, if you don’t have a problem with your PC, you don’t need to install the optional quality update unless you want to help Microsoft test it. If you wait a few weeks, your PC will get the same fixes after undergoing additional testing.
Install optional quality updates
Go to Settings> Update & Security> Windows Update to check for optional quality updates. Click on “Check for Update” to check for available updates. Windows will automatically install all mandatory updates (including security updates and non-optional cumulative updates).
If an optional quality update is available, you will see a message saying so under the “Check for updates” button. Click “Download and Install” if you want to install it on your PC.
You can also click “View all optional updates” to see all optional updates you can install. For example, this list probably includes optional driver updates that can help if you have a problem on your PC. However, this button will only appear if optional updates are actually available for your PC.
If you have a problem with an update, go to Settings> Update & security> Windows Update> View update history> Uninstall updates to remove the update from your Windows 10 PC.
RELATED: Roll back builds and remove updates on Windows 10