Windows 10 has undergone plenty of changes in the six years since first launching, but the core look and feel has remained the same. Whether you’re picking up a brand new device or one that hasn’t been updated for a few years, the experience is largely the same.
This was widely expected to change in 2021, with the big ‘Sun Valley’ update bringing wholesale changes. Many of these features arrived, but in a brand-new version –
It’s a free upgrade, too, making the prospect of Windows 10’s 21H2 update far less exciting. It’s officially live now for all users, but there are only three minor changes to talk about – that’s the same as the May
21H1 update from earlier in the year.
Here’s everything you need to know.
When did the Windows 10 21H2 update come out?
Ahead of schedule, Microsoft confirmed the existence of the 21H2 update in a
blog post on 15 July. The Dev Channel was then used for testing purposes, before an official release in November 2021.
The update was rolled out gradually to manage demand, but it should now be available on all Windows 10 devices.
Will my Windows PC get the 21H2 update?
Almost certainly, yes. If your PC is able to download the
21H1 update, there’s no reason it won’t get version 21H2. Microsoft may have updated the
hardware requirements for Windows 11, but there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Windows 10.
How long will Windows 10 21H2 be supported for?
As is usually the case with Windows 10 feature updates, Microsoft has revealed exactly when version 21H2 will reach end of support: 13 June 2023.
That’s consistent with the rough 18 months of support usually provided. Running any version of Windows that’s not supported is a big security risk – it leaves your device vulnerable to bugs, viruses or malware that emerge. Should that happen, there’s no guarantee Microsoft will release an official fix.
However, the deadline for an earlier version is fast approaching. The 20H2 (late 2020) update won’t be supported beyond 10 May 2022, so it’s
important to update now. Likewise, support for the 21H1 (early 2021) update will end on 13 December 2022.
Remember, Windows 10 itself will continue to be supported until October 2025. Microsoft is encouraging users to get
Windows 11 now, but there’s no requirement to for a while yet.
Windows 10 21H2 update new features
Since October 2020, we’ve had an idea that
a big Windows update was on its way. For much of 2021, this was expected to take the form of Windows 10’s 21H2 update. However, in the space of just few months, Microsoft teased, announced and released
It’s the culmination of the ‘Sun Valley’ project Microsoft has been working on for much of the last year, so almost all the exciting features will be arriving in this brand-new version of Windows.
That’s not to say that Windows 10 won’t get any more attention, and Microsoft has gone ahead with the 21H2 update. It may end up being Windows 10’s last feature update though, even if the OS will continue to be
officially supported until 2025.
In the same
official blog post as above, Microsoft revealed only three new features of note:
- Adding WPA3 H2E standards support for enhanced Wi-Fi security
- Windows Hello for Business supports simplified password-less deployment models for achieving a deploy-to-run state within a few minutes
- GPU compute support in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows (EFLOW) deployments for machine learning and other compute intensive workflows
These are useful features, but they’re unlikely to have a significant on how you use your Windows 10 PC day-to-day.
official blog post used to announce the update, Microsoft also confirmed that you’ll benefit from a fast installation process if you’re already running
version 2004 (May 2020) or later.
subsequent blog post explains, several bugs have been fixed and there is one known issue at the time of writing, along with a suggested solution:
- The Windows Update settings page may hang after you download an optional update. Close and reopen the Windows Update settings page if you encounter this
How-To Geek article (based on an Insider Build from February 2021 suggested lots more features would be coming, although that was long before Windows 11 was announced. It’s not clear whether some of the following features simply weren’t considered noteworthy enough for the blog post, or if we’ll have to wait longer.
- System-wide DNS over HTTPS – DNS generally improves privacy and provides greater security by encrypting DNS lookups, which happen each and every time you launch a website. Currently, this is only available in browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox
- DNS options moved from Control Panel to Settings – The continued phasing out of Control Panel will see these options moved to the regular Settings menu
- Startup app notifications – Each time you start up your PC (from off), you’ll receive a notification telling you which apps are set to launch each time you boot. You can disable this by heading to Settings > Apps > Startup, while there will still be options here to turn off any apps you don’t want to automatically launch
- New emoji picker – Now with updated emoji design, searchable GIF library and integration with clipboard history (this will still also be available via the Windows Key + V shortcut)
- Windows Dictation rebranded to Windows Voice Typing – This is said to be “optimised for use with touch keyboards”, and will offer automatic punctuation and a more reliable typing experience
- New icons – The Settings app, Windows Security, Snip & Sketch and Sticky Notes are all set for updated icons
- Storage health notifications – If your device has an NVMe SSD, Windows 10 will now be able to notify you when it thinks they “may be at risk of failure”
- Disk Management options in Settings – Previously only accessible via a separate utility, Disk Management will now also be available under System > Storage > Manage Disks and Volumes
- Linux improvements – Developers will be pleased to hear that Linux software on Windows 10 will now have full GPU support. The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) will also be easier to install and update, while Linux files will now be accessible from within File Explorer
- Improved graphics settings for multiple GPUs – If you have more than one graphics card on your PC, Windows 10 will allow you to set a default high-performance GPU. You’ll also be able to set which graphics card will be used for specific applications
For news on Windows 10’s successor, check out our full guide to
Windows 11. Predictably, its first feature update is expected to be known as