Microsoft’s next major Windows 10 update focuses on improving remote work

The next major update to Windows 10, version 21H1, will be delivered in the first half of 2021 and focuses on improving remote work scenarios. Microsoft traditionally delivers two major Windows updates per year, with most of the bigger features dropping in the spring and a smaller update in the fall. While IT admins are used to this approach, Microsoft appears to be reversing this cadence for 2021.

“Windows 10, version 21H1 will have a scoped set of features improving security, remote access and quality,” explains John Cable, Microsoft’s head of Windows Servicing and Delivery. “The features we are releasing in this update are focused on the core experiences that customers have told us they’re relying on most right now.” These improvements will include:

  • 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.

Logitech’s Brio webcam will work better on devices with built-in Windows Hello cameras soon.
Image: Logitech

The Windows camera changes mean you’ll soon be able to plug in an external Windows Hello camera and get the benefits of facial detection on a laptop that already has a Windows Hello camera built in. Currently, Windows doesn’t support this scenario well, and it means cameras like Logitech’s Brio do not work correctly with devices like Microsoft’s Surface range that also have Windows Hello cameras.

Microsoft’s other improvements for this 21H1 version are clearly designed for IT admins to improve support for remote working. This includes improving document opening times for Microsoft’s built-in anti-virus software, and performance improvements for the management and configuration side of Windows.

This 21H1 update will also install very quickly, much like a monthly cumulative updates to Windows. Microsoft has started testing this 21H1 update with beta testers today, and it’s planning to make it available to all Windows 10 users “later in the first half of this calendar year.”

Microsoft is also expected to deliver a larger Windows 10 update later in 2021. The company is planning a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows,” which is codenamed Sun Valley. Microsoft is planning to detail its next big changes to Windows at a special event in the coming months.

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