Windows Update is quite persistent about upgrading when a particular Windows 10 version is not getting security updates anymore. If you need new features or are having problems with your current version, you may need to upgrade manually instead of relying on Windows Update to select a version for your system.
To check if you have the latest one, go to Start > Settings > System > About:
You’ll see your version here. In this case, it’s 1809, which is not the latest one. You’ll also see the date it was installed. This date isn’t always the same as the actual date, on which the latest update was installed.
The Most Recent Windows 10 Version is 20H2
The most recent major update was 20H1, which took place in May 2020. However, the latest update was 20H2, a minor one released on October 20, 2020. Your PC might show the release date for 20H1, which was in the first half of 2020, as the code indicates. Updates are released once every few months.
Before an update is fully rolled out, PC manufacturers and Microsoft conduct extensive, in-depth testing. This is why major updates can take a while to reach users’ computers.
The latest Windows 10 version is 2009, released under build number 19042. The most recent update focuses on fixing bugs associated with the previous one. Albeit not being a major update, it has a few notable changes. You’ll see Edge browser tabs when you press Alt+Tab. This happens by default because the Microsoft Edge browser was integrated into the system. The System pane in the Control Panel has been removed.
Upgrade Your Windows 10 Edition
When you click on “upgrade edition”, you’ll see this:
Now, you need to enter a product key:
How to Find Your Product key for the Latest Windows 10 Version
Users will need either a digital license to activate their product key or a 25-character to enter. It depends on where they got their Windows 10 from. In Windows 10, version 1511, a digital license is called a digital entitlement. If you have this, you won’t need to enter a product key.
- Possible sources of Windows 10:
- A hard copy from an authorized retailer
- A new PC running Windows
- A digital copy from an authorized retailer
- Free Windows 10 upgrade
- A digital copy from Microsoft’s website
- Windows 10 Store App
A Hard Copy From an Authorized Retailer
Look for the product key on a card or label inside the package, in which your Windows was sent. Contact the retailer if you can’t find it.
A new PC running Windows
The key comes preinstalled. It’s either included on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA), which is attached to the computer, or in the computer packaging. See Microsoft’s “How to tell your hardware is genuine” for more information and get in touch with the hardware manufacturer if you have any questions or issues.
A Digital Copy From an Authorized Retailer
You will get a confirmation email after purchasing Windows 10. This email contains the product key. Alternatively, the key could be in a digital locker that’s available via the retailer’s website.
Free Upgrade to Windows 10
Users who upgraded for free from Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 don’t have a key, but a digital license.
A Digital Copy From Microsoft’s Website
Again, the product key should be in the confirmation email you got after purchasing a digital copy of Windows. Only copies bought from Microsoft’s online store come with a record of product keys. Information about the purchase is available in the user’s order history in their Microsoft account.
Windows 10 Store App
Finally, you should get a digital license instead of a key if you bought Windows Professional, Windows 10 Home, or Upgrade to Pro from the official app store. The digital license is used to activate the latest version.
Dealing with a Damaged Key
You can get help from your retailer or from Microsoft Support if your product key is blurred, scratched, or not usable for another reason. You might also find the “Methods of Activation” section in Activate Windows 10 helpful if you need more information about Windows 10 product keys and digital licenses.
Overriding Automatic Installation
As mentioned, the latest versions are installed automatically when Microsoft provides the update to a user’s computer. However, new updates are not available for all PCs at the same time. They are rolled out gradually and only after it is proven they work well with all kinds of hardware configurations. If your version hasn’t been updated automatically, it’s because Microsoft isn’t completely sure the new version is compatible with your hardware.
You can override automatic installation if you want. If you experience any problems, you can always downgrade to your old version. Keep in mind you need to do this within ten days of the upgrade. You’re still installing a stable OS update despite the risk.
To install the update, go to Settings > Update & Security:
Click on “Check for Updates”. If there exists a stable Windows 10 version that Microsoft hasn’t rolled out to your computer, Update might offer to download it. Look for a feature update notice for your computer. There should be a link “Download and install now” below it.
Why are the Windows 10 Updates So Slow?
Toward November 2020, the latest version had been installed on less than 8.8 percent of Windows computer systems. Just under 40 percent had the 20H1 update from May. Over half of all computers had versions dating from or before 2019.
It’s often the case that specific hardware on a given computer has a problem with its drivers that needs to be remedied to be compatible with a new version of Windows 10. The security software running on some computers might require certain modifications to function on newer Windows 10 versions. While Microsoft and manufacturers are working on ensuring compatibility, some computers may not get the most recent update for six months or more.
Possible Problems with a Premature Upgrade
If you’d rather not wait for the automatic upgrade, you might experience bugs and other related issues. What’s more, major Windows 10 upgrades are getting smaller in 2020. They seldom include novel, interesting, must-have features. Still, if you don’t want to wait for a year or more, this guide has done a great job of explaining how to upgrade to the latest Windows 10 version.