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Microsoft Gives Early Look at Windows 10 Version 21H1

Microsoft is readying the first Windows 10 feature update of 2021, dubbed 21H1, for release sometime in the first half of this year.

John Cable, vice president of program management for Windows servicing and delivery, described Windows 10 version 21H1 in an announcement Wednesday. Windows Insider Program testers that accept Beta Channel releases can now begin to access Windows 10 version 21H1 if they "seek" it or opt to get it.

Windows 10 version 21H1 will be a minor update, with few new features. Here's Cable's list:

  • Windows Hello multicamera support to allow users to choose an external camera priority when using high end displays with integrated cameras.
  • Windows Defender Application Guard performance improvements including optimizing document opening scenario times.
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating performance improvement to support remote work scenarios.

Cable explained that Windows 10 version 21H1 will be a fast installation, like "a monthly update," if the OS getting updated was Windows 10 version 2004 or 20H2, but it'll update at more customary speeds for older Windows 10 versions. He didn't explain the speed boost, but Microsoft previously described its "enablement package" technology as speeding up feature updates. With enablement packages, the new OS bits are present on a machine, but remain in a dormant state.

The enablement package approach got started with Windows 10 version 1909. Possibly, it's being used again with Windows 10 version 21H1.

Cable also reminded organizations that installing Windows 10 version 21H1 will kick off an 18-month support policy before it's time to upgrade the OS again. It's possible to get 30 months of support before upgrading to a new Windows 10 feature update release, but it only happens when organizations using the Enterprise or Education editions opt into getting feature updates that are released in the second half of the year (2H).

Microsoft used to refer to these biannual Windows 10 feature update releases (1H and 2H) as "spring" and "fall" releases. However, that scheme doesn't work for people located on the other side of the globe, so it switched the nomenclature.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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