Windows 10 21H1: Spring Release

Jun 10, 2021

A small but significant update, with bigger changes to come later this year in 21H2

Ready for another Windows 10 update? Well another big update is coming this fall.

Microsoft is working on a major update of Windows 10 for release towards the end of the year. It is just like the Windows 10 October 2020 that would be delivered as a cumulative style update for those running the current latest version of Windows 10. This means the update won’t take long to install, and isn’t as big as normal Windows 10 feature updates.

As it is known that Windows 10 releases two updates in a year:

  • Spring Release – H1
  • Fall Release – H2 (provides longer support)

Even though the new release has not been officially named yet, but it has been known as version 21H1. This update won’t include any huge new changes or features. Microsoft is planning a bigger Windows 10 feature update for later this year, codenamed Sun Valley instead.

21H1: Just Around The corner

Soon Microsoft will announce the release date for 21H1. Here, the Azure Marketplace option is the prebuilt image, which is ready to install and go. On the contrary, the other two methods use an enablement package to download and turn on 21H1 bits. For those, who prefer to make their install images, Microsoft has provided an ISO image of build 19043, that can assist the user to install its packages and build its images.

Support for multiple Windows Hello cameras

The new prominent feature of 21H1 is the addition of external Windows Hello cameras on the devices. Another significant feature is the second Face recognition camera, for the people working from home and makes use of laptops with big monitor screens. Here, the depth cameras are added as an alternative to conventional webcams, that can easily be used for video conferencing and Hello authentication.

On adding the second Hello camera within the laptop running windows 21H1, it automatically gets selected as default. In this way, log-in through the monitor-mounted camera is possible as the laptop reboots. But it is not an easy task to do, as different cameras have different resolutions and recognition patterns. Windows 10 keeps only a single set of biometric details for only one authenticated user.

Therefore, unless the user resets its Hello settings by turning face recognition off and on again, before running an initial face capture, Windows will attempt to use data from a different angle and a different camera. Once Hello is reset, an external camera works well. But it is mandatory to reset Hello again when the user disconnects its laptop. It doesn’t matter if the laptop’s USB port is used or a docking station; as long as Windows 10 21H1 has access to a camera with a supported depth sensor, Hello will work.

Improving Security and Management

Windows’ built-in management tooling presumes that users are connected to a corporate network, with a minimum of a 1Gbps connection and minimal latency. Now there’s no way of knowing what type of connection a user has, but there is a need to ensure that devices are compliant.

Windows Defender and Application Guard help protect user PCs by opening web content and Office documents in a secure hypervisor-backed environment. Unlike Hyper-V, users don’t get presented with a whole virtual machine, only a normal-looking window. Meanwhile, under the hood, a whole thin virtual machine with the services needed to run that application has been spun up, isolated from the rest of applications and services.

No More Old Edge

One change that will affect all users is the switch to the new Chromium-based Edge. The 21H1 update deletes the original Edge browser from Windows, leaving only the new version. Microsoft ended support for the older Edge in March 2021. If any user has web applications that depend on the older Edge, it’s now past time to make sure that they work with the new release.

The key features of Windows 10 21H1 are essential for enhancing and securing remote work, which isn’t going away as businesses adjust to new hybrid work patterns. While many businesses may have planned only to install 21H2, the changes outlined here are useful enough to suggest that it should be worth installing 21H1 without significantly impacting users and the undergone work.

Since Windows 10 21H1 is the second minor upgrade in a row, therefore, the enablement package mechanism works on all PCs running Windows 10 20H2 or 2004. Those enterprise systems running earlier versions of Windows 10 will have to download the entire OS to reach 21H1. 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. Unlike 21H2, 21H1 is smaller in size and won’t take as long to install, and does not require as many reboots as major feature updates, such as Windows 10 version 21H2, expected in the second half of 2021.

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