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Microsoft’s first major Windows 10 update of 2021 is coming soon – here’s what’s in it

Published Feb 18th, 2021 1:08PM EST
Windows 10 21H1 Update
Image: Asus/Amazon

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  • Microsoft announced that its first major Windows 10 update of the year will focus on optimizing the operating system for remote work, rather than delivering significant new features.
  • The Windows 10 21H1 update will deliver Windows Hello camera improvements, it’ll open documents faster, and there are also performance improvements for remote Windows 10 management.
  • The update is available to Insiders right now and will be released to all Windows 10 users in the coming months.

Microsoft releases two major Windows 10 updates each year, one in spring and one in the fall. The main update that drops in the first half of the year is usually the most exciting one, but that won’t be the case for the Windows 10 21H1 update that Microsoft is already making available to its Insider beta program members. Instead, Windows 10 21H1 will ensure that the operating system delivers the kind of experience people need in light of the global coronavirus pandemic. As you might have gathered, this update will focus on improvements to features that help people work and attend classes from home.

The novel coronavirus pandemic is still in full swing, with many people working and studying remotely. Microsoft explained in a blog post that it understands “the importance of providing the best possible update experience to help people and organizations stay protected and productive.” That’s why the 21H1 update will be focused on several optimizations meant to improve the overall Windows 10 experience.

That means 21H1 will not deliver any significant design changes or new features. Instead, it’ll focus on a “scoped set of features improving security, remote access, and quality.” Microsoft explained that the Windows 10 21H1 update is optimized to support the most pressing needs of its customers.

Here’s what you can expect from Windows 10 21H1 in the near future:

Windows Hello multicamera support to set 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 (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating performance improvement to support remote work scenarios.

In practice, this means better support for external webcams, which should pay off in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. The other features mostly concern the administration side of Windows 10, so end users might not notice them immediately. But they should improve remote work experiences, and that’s something workers should start seeing once their IT departments get the upgrade.

Microsoft also explained that 21H1 will download and install very quickly, similar to one of those monthly Windows 10 updates you’re used to getting all the time. The beta version is already available to “Insiders” who are registered for Microsoft’s beta program, and it should be released to all Windows 10 users in the coming months.

The second major Windows 10 update of the year will be the more exciting one in 2021. The Verge reminds us that Microsoft is planning a “sweeping rejuvenation of Windows.” The Sun Valley update will be formally introduced during a special Microsoft event sometime later this year.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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