You may have noticed that the latest version of the Windows Operating System is still Windows 10 and will not change for a while. That doesn’t mean that Microsoft got lazy and gave up. On the contrary, they have been quite busy creating and releasing major upgrades to the Windows 10 OS twice a year. The latest update, version 21H1, has recently been released.
Microsoft’s spring release is usually the larger of the two releases during the year. 21H1 isn’t the major overhaul that some were expecting. For a Microsoft spring release, this is a relatively small release, but big things come in small packages, as the saying goes.
This release focuses mainly on security and to the new normal of more people working remotely.
This release includes a significant update to the Edge Browser completing the transition to the Chromium-based version. The previous version of Edge was dropped from support in March of this year, and this update now removes the old version replacing it with the new version.
Version 21H1 adds support for multiple Windows Hello cameras. Windows Hello replaces passwords with strong two-factor authentication on PCs and Windows-based mobile devices. The authentication is tied to the device rather than the operating system and can use either a biometric, such as a fingerprint, or a pin.
The most important part of this release is the security update. With more people working from home, it was necessary to improve how Group Policy works to account for the slower internet speeds at home. The old version assumed people were on a corporate network. Having so many people working remotely, many companies needed to buy additional software to account for new distributed infrastructure. This software is expensive and, as with any new system, can disrupt service. Microsoft has now accounted for the greater number of remote workers and adjusted Windows 10 accordingly.
It is important to note that this release is not the “Sun Valley” release you might have been hearing about. “Sun Valley” is the codename of the next major release scheduled for October 2021. This release is said to include significant changes to Windows, including a big update to the user interface. While nothing is official at this point, “Sun Valley” is said to include changes to the interface and changes to the features with Windows with a focus on lifestyle updates such as a News and Features widget for the taskbar.
We are just going to have to wait until Fall to see what the release will include. For now, 21H1 is out and in the process of being distributed, and except for the update to Edge, most of the improvements and enhancements will be “under the hood,” so your Windows 10 experience should not change too much for now.