Microsoft Finally Announces Windows 10 Version 21H1

Posted on February 17, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 20 Comments

We’ll never know what took so long, but Microsoft today formally announced Windows 10 version 21H1, and it released the first pre-release 21H1 build to the Beta channel of the Windows Insider program.

“Today, we are introducing the next feature update to Windows 10, version 21H1,” Microsoft’s John Cable writes in an announcement post that should have been published months ago. “For the first time[,] an H1 (first half of the calendar year) feature update release will be delivered in an optimized way using servicing technology, while continuing our semi-annual feature update cadence.”

In other words, Windows 10 version 21H1 is a very minor update, as we discussed the other day, or as Microsoft belabors it, this version “will have a scoped set of features improving security, remote access[,] and quality.”

New features will include multicamera support for Windows Hello and security-related performance improvements. And yeah, that’s it.

“Customers running either Windows 10 version 2004 or 20H2 who choose to update to the new release will have a fast installation experience because the update will install like a monthly update,” Cable continues. “For consumer or commercial users coming from versions of Windows 10 earlier than the May 2020 Update (version 2004), the process of updating to the new release will be the same as it has been and will work in a similar manner to previous Windows 10 feature updates, using the same tools and processes. As this Windows 10 release is targeted for the first half of 2021, all Windows 10 editions of version 21H1 will receive 18 months of servicing.”

Concurrent to this announcement, the Beta channel of the Windows Insider program has finally moved off of Windows 10 version 20H2, which was released several months ago, and onto 21H1, and it’s getting its first 21H1 build today, build 19043.844. You can learn more here. But not much more.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Microsoft Finally Announces Windows 10 Version 21H1”

  1. IanYates82

    Nice Oxford comma addition there ;-)

  2. Martin Sjöholm

    Sorry to be OT and I'm sure this will be removed, but what is the point of Premium Comments on a non-premium article? Like subscribers have better opinions, or something.

    Why not only one set of comments? Discussions in premium articles are locked anyway. I am not inclined to subscribe because of premium comments that I never read anyway. What does make me consider it from time to time are the actual articles, and to be supportive in general.

    • Paul Thurrott

      At the time, the thinking was that Premium comments would typically be fewer but of higher quality. But our experience has been that having segregated comments isn't ideal. It's on the list to change/fix.
  3. winner

    Breaking: Mars becomes the second planet that has more computers running Linux than Windows.

  4. jgraebner

    The one new feature is a welcome one, at least. If I'm reading it correctly, it means that you will now be able to use a USB webcam (if it's compatible) for Windows Hello on a docked laptop without losing the ability to use the built-in camera when it isn't docked.

  5. skinnyjm

    This very short list of new features could have just as easily been delivered via a cumulative update. It's almost as if MS feels like they are obligated to release something called "21H1".

  6. sevenacids

    Well, it not only shows that Windows doesn't need two major upgrades a year, it doesn't even need one. And how "snaky" they are in their wording, keeping the facade of two feature upgrades a year like nothing changed, faking build numbers along the way and all the stuff.

    The big question is: Why don't they change their strategy and focus on quality, performance, and stability? Windows is pretty much done, it only has to adapt to new hardware technologies, a complete new production-ready build is required maybe every two to three years. Like, in the days before Windows 10 existed. Additional features could be delivered via the Store or Feature Packs (NT4 anyone?). What's so hard about this? It seems logical to me for a mature product like this.

  7. Thomas Parkison

    I was looking forward to the addition of DNS over HTTPS support but apparently, it's not going to be in 21H1.

  8. ghostrider

    Maybe MS have finally realised people aren't interested in 'features'. Most don't use them anyway - they just want a stable, reliable, secure desktop, and will continue to use Windows the way they've always used it until something better comes along. They don't care about painting in 3D, or store apps, or integrating their phones, or Cortana or a multitude of pointless other Windows bloatware. The single improvement I noticed in 20H2 was the removal of the stupid square backgrounds on start menu icons - a small visual improvement but nothing much else.

    • hack-o-holic

      In reply to ghostrider: So using your logic, you recommend companies not updating/improving anything after initial release and just maintain security fixes until people move on to something better? Smart!
      If you keep adding features and improvements, your products don't get stale and allow something else to seem better...

  9. madthinus

    Maybe the biggest admission here is that Windows does not need two updates a year. What it needs is stability, consistency and bug fixes.

  10. reefer2

    Oo and even more useless enterprise features for us consumers.

  11. navarac

    The watermark for 21H1 (19043.844) has been forgotten/ignored. It says 19041.vb.release.191206-1406 -- the same as 20H1. No wonder consistency is out of the window with a lack of attention to detail. Oh well......

  12. thewarragulman

    Honestly I believe that all feature updates should be delivered in this fashion going forward. It’s not as if Windows 10 really needs the entire platform to be updated every six months with a huge multi-reboot install of a new build, which causes more problems than it solves, so I’m fine with having a second “minor” update like this. It’s really just a service pack like the way it used to be back in the day

    • benisaacs

      In reply to thewarragulman:

      I agree, I don’t know enough of the servicing components etc but if everything is a component, why can the relevant ones not be updated rather than having to reinstall the whole thing? I know Linux distro’s can upgrade using just the new packages whilst staying online- how reliable that is I don’t know

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