Spring is one of the two seasons of the year when Microsoft usually releases a new feature update for Windows 10, and that means we’ll be coming to another one soon. Microsoft has been testing the next feature update – known as version 21H1 – for a while now, and it should not be too long before it becomes publicly available. As such, it’s time for another overview of what’s new in this update, but before we get into that, you may want to check out all the changes that have been made in previous Windows 1
Moving to version 21H1, there is some background required here. In the last couple of years, Microsoft has released a major feature update in the spring (see versions 1903 and 2004) and a minor update focusing on improvements and minor improvements in the fall (versions 1909 and 20H2). These updates are delivered through activation packages, which means that the actual pieces in the autumn updates are the same as the spring update, but they have an activation package that makes certain features light up. The spring and autumn updates every year even get exactly the same cumulative updates every month.
This time, however, the spring update – version 21H1 – is another update package update, which means that it only highlights certain changes that are already hidden in versions 2004 and 20H2. This is actually the smallest feature update Windows 10 has had, and it can hardly be considered a “feature update”. It’s just here to keep up with Microsoft’s usual timeframe for these updates. So what’s new?
First, there are enhancements to Windows Hello, so if you have a device with a Windows Hello camera built in, but you connect another Windows Hello-compatible camera, you can now set the external camera as the default for Windows Hello. authentication. This can be useful, for example, if you are buying a monitor that has a camera built into it.
Windows Defender Application Guard
This update also includes performance enhancements for the Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG), including a solution to an issue where opening some Office documents could cause delays of more than one minute. This would happen if the file was opened via a Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path or Server Message Block (shared link).
The performance of Robocopy is also improved when copying files larger than 400 MB in size. Finally a problem where a WDAG container could use almost 1 GB of memory while idle was fixed.
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)
Finally, Microsoft has made some improvements to Group Policy Service in Windows Management Instrumentation to address external work scenarios. Before, it may have taken some time for changes in user or data groups to propagate, which meant that the results of changes in group policies were not displayed when the administrator tried to generate a report.
Yes, that’s really all there is to this update, and you may have noticed that most of the changes have to do with remote work. Microsoft says it will not release a major feature update this spring due to COVID-19, and the updates it made are intended to meet the most urgent requests it has heard from its customers.
But another reason why there are no major features in this update is that Windows 10X should drop this spring, and Microsoft was set to focus on that for now. Microsoft is said to be saving the major changes for the fall update, including a visual overhaul for Windows 10, codenamed Sun Valley. We’ve seen some of the visual changes appear in new builds for Windows Insiders recently, such as new icons found in places like the Settings app, new icons in File Explorer, and a whole new touch keyboard experience.
However, some recent reports have suggested that Windows 10X will also be delayed, and since Microsoft has not communicated anything about it, it is not entirely clear what will happen to Windows 10 this year.
For now, Windows 10 version 21H1 will be released soon, and although it does not provide much that is new, it should at least be safe to install considering that it does not make any major changes. Microsoft says version 21H1 will remove the Edge Legacy browser from the operating system, but in reality it will also be removed from older versions of Windows 10 with a cumulative update in April.
Are you planning to install Windows 10 version 21H1 as soon as it is available? Let us know in the comments.