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Microsoft releases new versions of Windows 10 roughly every six months. However, not everyone gets them all at once. Some PCs remain stuck on older versions of Windows 10 for a year or more. Here’s how to check whether your PC is up-to-date.

Why Windows 10 Updates So Slowly

For example, AdDuplex’s report for November 2020 found that only 8.8 percent of Windows PCs had the latest October 2020 Update at the time. 37.6 percent of PCs had the previous May 2020 Update. More than 50 percent of PCs were running versions of Windows 10 released in 2019 or earlier.

Microsoft slowly rolls out updates to PCs, carefully measuring whether any problems occur with each update. For example, a specific hardware device in one particular laptop may have a hardware driver issue that needs to be fixed before it can work properly with a new version of Windows 10. Some PCs may be running security software that requires changes to function on newer versions of Windows 10—and so on.

Due to Microsoft’s cautious update strategy, some PCs may not get the latest update for a year or more while compatibility issues are being fixed.

Does Having the Latest Version Matter?

Honestly, for most people, having the latest version of Windows 10 just doesn’t matter. Unless you are experiencing problems or want new features, you should probably stick with the version Windows Update automatically chooses for your system.

While you could skip the queue and get the latest version of Windows 10 on your PC, it’s often not a good idea, as you could experience bugs.

Microsoft continues to update older versions of Windows 10 with security updates for some time. When a version of Windows 10 is no longer getting security updates, Windows Update is pretty aggressive about upgrading to a newer one.

In other words, most people don’t need to care about whether or not they have the latest version. In 2020, these big Windows updates have become smaller than ever—they rarely include big, new, must-have features.

How to Check If You Have the Latest Version

That being said, you might want the latest version of Windows 10 for a variety of reasons: to get new features, to obtain compatibility with a particular program, to fix a bug you’re experiencing in an old version, to test software on the latest release, or to use the latest operating system.

To check which version you have installed on your PC, launch the Settings window by opening the Start menu. Click the “Settings” gear at its left side or press Windows+i.

Navigate to System > About in the Settings window.

Look under Windows specifications for the “Version” you have installed. (On older versions of Windows 10, this screen may look a little different, but it shows the same information.)

Note: The “Installed on” date may not always reflect the date when the latest update was installed. For example, 20H2 is a smaller update and many people have noticed they’re running version 20H2 but the “Installed on” shows a date before October 2020, when the update was released. The date may instead show the date when 20H1 was installed—that was a larger update. This is normal.

Look for the "Version" number on the About screen.

Now, check which is the latest version of Windows 10. We keep this page updated with the latest version of Windows 10.

You can also find this information on Microsoft’s Windows 10 release information web page—look at the most recent version under “Semi-Annual Channel.”

RELATED: What Is the Latest Version of Windows 10?

How to Get the Latest Version of Windows 10

If the number doesn’t match, you have an older version of Windows 10. To skip the wait and upgrade your PC to the latest version immediately, visit Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page and click the “Update Now” button to download Microsoft’s Update Assitant. Run the downloaded tool—if a new version of Windows 10 is available, the tool will find and install it.

To check if you have the latest version of Windows 10 on a PC, you can always just download and run this Microsoft tool. If a new version is available, the tool will offer to install it. If you have the latest version installed, the tool will tell you.

Warning: By running the Upgrade Assistant, you’re forcing Windows 10 to upgrade itself. Even if there’s a known problem with the update on your computer, Windows will ignore the problem and install the update anyway. Microsoft recommends you check for any known problems impacting your system first.

Windows 10's Update Assistant.

You can always uninstall an update if you experience a problem with it—assuming that your computer still boots properly. However, you must uninstall the update within the first ten days after installing it.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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