Remember when operating system updates were found on store shelves? There was no such thing as a staggered rollout—the latest versions of Windows or Mac OS were available to anyone willing to buy them. Now everything is downloaded, however, and Microsoft has decided to release updates to Windows 10 only to some users instead of to everyone at once. It might be a while before everyone gets the Fall Creators Update.
This stutter-step release isn't new. Microsoft did the same thing when it released the Creators Update in April. Instead of notifying every Windows 10 device owner about the update's release, the company specifically made the Creators Update available to people whose hardware could support it. The idea was to reduce users' frustration with the new update and ensure that it worked across the vast Windows ecosystem.
Now the company has done the same with the Fall Creators Update. It's technically available to everyone—you can download it via the company's website—but you won't be nagged to install it unless Microsoft thinks your hardware can handle it. The primary difference now is that the company tested the Fall Creators Update on a wider variety of systems and did its best to make sure they're ready for Windows Mixed Reality.
Microsoft explained in a blog post:
By starting with machines which we believe will have the best update experience, we are able to get focused feedback on application compatibility and how Windows works with the rich ecosystem of available peripherals like Bluetooth devices or cameras. Additionally, we closely monitor feedback from fans and early adopters, through programs like Windows Insiders and Windows Insider for Business, in addition to feedback from our OEM device partners, and customers like you! This helps us determine when to accelerate the release to additional devices. We repeat this process until all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide are offered the Fall Creators Update.
The company also said in its blog post that October 17 (the Fall Creators Update's release date) marked the start of its Semi-Annual Channel and its 18-month servicing timeline. The Semi-Annual Channel is essentially a re-branding of Windows Current Branch (CB) and Current Branch for Business (CBB), and it's supposed to give businesses peace of mind when it comes to updating their systems to the latest version of Windows.