Microsoft moves closer to Windows 10 21H1 release; begins Beta channel testing

Microsoft's next Windows 10 feature update includes very few new features and is coming later in the first half of 2021.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is starting its rollout of its next Windows 10 feature update, Windows 10 21H1, to Insider testers in the Beta channel. Officials provided a list of some of the (very few) new features and the rollout plan for Windows 10 21H1 via a blog post on February 17. 

Beta channel testers who "seek" the new test build will get version 19043.844. The list of fixes and updates in this build are here

As expected, Windows 10 21H1 will be a minor update and will be delivered via an enablement pack. The new features in this update include:

  • Windows Hello multicamera support
  • Windows Defender Application Guard performance improvements including document-opening times
  • Windows Management Instrument Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating performance improvements for remote-work scenarios

The coming feature update, which will roll out to mainstream users sometime later in the first half of calendar 2021, will have 18 months of support.

For those running Windows 10 version 2004 or 20H2, the update, once available will be fast and (hopefully) painless. It will install like a cumulative update. For those running earlier versions of Windows 10, the update will be slower and not as smooth.

Officials said they will provide more information on the Windows 10 21H1 release and how to get it when it gets closer to launch. Microsoft officials didn't share anything more about 21H2, which is rumored to be a bigger feature update due later this calendar year.

Officials also noted that those who start testing 21H1 in Beta today will get regular updates to it via Windows Update. From the blog post:

"Once an Insider updates their PC to 21H1, they will continue to automatically receive new 21H1 updates through Windows Update using our servicing technology (like the monthly update process). Insiders who don't choose to install 21H1 right away will continue to receive 20H2 updates until we move all of the Beta Channel forward to 21H1 in the coming weeks."

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