Microsoft is shaking up its update cycle process for Windows. The company will continue pushing out semiannual updates this year for its flagship operating systems; however, the Windows 21H1 update will be a smaller update for supported versions of Windows 10 rather than the broader feature update that usually arrives in the first half of the year.
In years past, Microsoft has released the more extensive system update in the spring, with 18 months of support, and then followed that up with a smaller cumulative update in the fall that then receives 30 months of support.
The reason for this shift in update release plans is likely to support the Windows 10 update code-named Sun Valley, which will be available this fall and is expected to be a significant operating system update. The full system update is expected to include an overhauled user interface, plus extensive feature updates and enhancements. Moving the full system update to the fall means more testing time within the Windows Insider Program that is available for businesses.
John Cable, Microsoft’s vice president for program management and Windows servicing and delivery, announced the update plans on the official Windows blog earlier this week.
Among the enhancements Cable shared for the Windows 21H1 update are three key features:
- Windows Hello multicamera support that sets the default as the external camera when both external and internal Windows Hello cameras are present.
- Windows Defender Application Guard performance improvements, including optimizing document opening scenario times.
- Windows Management Instrumentation Group Policy Service updating performance improvement to support remote work scenarios.
These small updates for Windows 10 are intended to focus on stability and performance.
There is no indication that this shift to a smaller update in the first half of the year and a larger feature-laden update in the second half of the year is a permanent change.
For organizations interested in testing out the upcoming Windows 21H1 update for their Windows 10 devices, the Windows Insider Program for Business is the best source for guidance on how to set up an internal testing program for deploying test builds.