Navigating Microsoft's site for Windows 10 update histories

This Microsoft site explains all the big changes for each update to Windows 10.

When Microsoft first launched Windows 10 in July 2015 the company changed how it dealt with system updates. First, the company decided to make updates more or less mandatory for home users. Then it decided against publishing information about what changes were included in each update. That meant it was much harder to tell what kind of new additions were landing on your PC.

That approach didn't last long as Microsoft began publishing update history notes in February 2016 for Windows 10 for PCs and Windows 10 Mobile.

For the most part, Windows 10's update history will be of interest to computer support professionals and super users that care about changes to their systems. Nevertheless, these update summaries can be very informative and aren't beyond the grasp of regular users. If there's a particular bug that's been causing problems on your PC, for example, Windows 10 update history can let you know if it's been fixed.

Know your numbers

Windows 10 Settings > About
Find your version and OS build numbers for Windows 10 in the Settings app.

Before update history will be of any use you first have to know which version of Windows you're using. That way you can match the software on your device to the right update summary. To do that on your PC click Start > Settings to open the Settings app. Then click on System > About to get your basic system information.

Scroll down and look for the word "Version" and below that "OS Build." These are the key numbers you need. The version number, such as 1511, is kind of like the volume number for a publication. Similar to a volume, the version number identifies a large umbrella under which smaller updates are publicly released. The second number, the build, has a much longer number such as 10586.104. This is like an individual issue of a publication--one of those smaller releases that belong to a specific volume (version number).

On Windows 10 mobile devices finding these numbers is similar but not quite the same. Open your phone's Settings app, then tap System > About, and scroll down until you see the heading "Device information." Just below that you should see a button that says More info. Tap that button and you will see the "Version" and "OS Build" entries just like on the PC.

Matching the summary

Windows 10's update history site
Microsoft provides a summary of changes for Windows 10 updates.

Now that you know your build and version numbers, it's time to check out Microsoft's Windows 10 update history for PCs and mobile devices.

Both sites look pretty much the same, although at this writing Microsoft has yet to publish an entry for Windows 10 Mobile. Presumably, Windows 10 Mobile updates will appear the same way they do on the PC site. If not, I will update this article to reflect that.

At the top of the page is the latest update released to mainstream users i.e. not the preview releases sent to Windows Insiders.

The first entry lets you know which version of Windows 10 the updates are meant for. In our example pictured here it's version 1511.

Below that Windows 10 version heading, updates are listed by date, and in brackets you'll see it lists the OS Build number like so: (brings system to 10586.104).

Reading the summary

Windows 10 Update summary
A Windows 10 update summary courtesy of Microsoft.

Once you've matched the version and OS build numbers on your device to the right update on Microsoft's site, you can read up on what's new. In our example, looking at updates from February 9, 2016, Microsoft fixed a number of problems such as an issue that didn't let you install more than one Windows Store app at a time. The company also fixed some security issues for the Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 browsers.

That's about all there is to reading up on Windows 10 updates. Don't feel you need to keep appraised of all the changes for every update (unless you want to). But it's good to know the site is there just in case you need to know what Microsoft is adding to, fixing, or taking away from your device.