Ready to upgrade? Microsoft just started a new rollout phase for Windows 10

New phase of the Windows 10 21H1 rollout targets PCs on versions nearing end of support.

Windows fans' attention might be on Windows 11 rumors, but Microsoft has just kicked off another important phase of rolling out Windows 10 version 21H1, aka the May 2021 Update. 

Microsoft generally waits a few months before making a new version of Windows 10 more broadly available and it started this process on Tuesday. 

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Windows 10 21H1 was released in May and is set to reach end of support December 13, 2022. It's been available to 'seekers' who manually go to "Check for Updates" to get the Windows 10 feature update, but it hasn't been available automatically to all Windows 10 PCs. 

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Now, thanks to Microsoft's machine learning, it has decided the update can be made available automatically to more Windows 10 PCs. 

"We are now starting a new phase in our rollout," Microsoft notes on its health dashboard page for 21H1

"Using the machine-learning training we have done so far, we are increasing the number of devices selected to update automatically to Windows 10, version 21H1 that are approaching end of servicing. We will continue to train our machine learning through all phases to deliver a smooth update experience."  

Microsoft doesn't provide extended periods of patching for Home editions of Windows 10 versions after they reach end of support, so it gradually ramps up the rollout as that date approaches. Windows 10 version 1909 hit that point in May, and version 2004 — aka the May 2020 Update — reaches end of support on December 14, 2021. 

That's still just over five months away, so it's not close enough for Microsoft to start force-upgrading devices to the supported version, which usually happens three months before a version becomes unsupported.   

Fans of Windows are keen to find out what Microsoft plans to unveil for the future of Windows at an event it's hosting on Thursday, June 24

Windows 11, as it's become called, is expected to include the "Sun Valley" user-interface refresh. A leaked build of the next version of Windows appears to look like previously released Windows 10X builds. Windows 10X was originally meant for dual-screen PCs, but its release was delayed several times and finally reduced to single-screen PCs before finally being nixed.

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Microsoft recently acknowledged it had decided to drop Windows 10X and instead bring some 10X foundational technologies into other parts of Windows and other products.

The notion of Windows 11 and the end of Windows 10 is a notable shift for Microsoft watchers because Windows 10 was meant to be forever under an as-a-service model. ZDNet's Ed Bott questions whether Windows 11 is a return to Microsoft's past of super-hyped Windows launches designed to enthuse OEMs and spark a shopping frenzy among consumers.