Microsoft Tuesday issued Windows 10 21H1, officially the year’s first feature upgrade even though new functionality was largely absent because the company has abandoned its major-minor release cadence. John Cable, the Microsoft executive who leads the Windows servicing group commented:

“We are initially taking a measured seeker-based approach to the rollout of the May 2021 Update,”

On PCs running Windows 10 Home and on those Windows 10 Pro machines not managed by IT, 21H1 will be installed only when the user chooses the “Download and install now” option. As Cable noted, of the eligible PCs — those running one of the last two versions, either 20H1 or 20H2 — only a portion will be offered this week’s upgrade at the start. Microsoft has long used a scheme that only slowly expands the pool of potential recipients and will continue that practice this time.

Two months ago, Microsoft urged commercial customers to begin testing Windows 10 21H1 using a release candidate of the upgrade.

On Tuesday, the company told IT admins to start what it called “targeted deployments,” meaning small-scale rollouts to PCs whose users have previously been identified as each upgrade’s guinea pigs.

The upgrade was immediately available through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), including Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager; Windows Update for Business (WUfB); the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC); and Microsoft’s download center via the Update Assistant and Media Creation Tool.

Rather than an upgrade composed of numerous new features and functionality, the minor 21H1 combined the code of its immediate predecessor with the intervening fixes, then added a splash, a very small splash, of shiny new things.
Windows 10 21H1 will receive the now-standard minimum support of 18 months, putting its retirement date as Dec. 13, 2022. As it is a first-half upgrade, all editions of the OS, including the priciest and most comprehensive, Windows 10 Enterprise, receive the same amount of support for 21H1.

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