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 last version Microsoft officially supports is from May 2018), the experience is largely the same.
This was widely expected to come to an end in 2021, with the big ‘Sun Valley’ update bringing wholesale changes. Many of these new features will be coming to market, but in a brand-new version – Windows 11.
It’ll be a free upgrade, too, making the prospect of Windows 10’s 20H2 update far less exciting. Microsoft has now officially announced the update, but there are only three minor changes to talk about – that’s the same as May’s 21H1 update.
Windows 11 still feels like a Windows 10 feature update in its current state, but the actual new features coming to Microsoft’s soon-to-be-replaced operating system are relatively insignificant. Here’s everything you need to know.
When will 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 of the Windows Insider Program is currently being used for Windows 11, but an early build of the Windows 10 feature update is now available in the Release Preview and Beta channels.
Microsoft is yet to confirm when a final version of the software will be available, but Windows Latest speculates it might be known as the ‘October 2021 update’. That would put it in line with previous Windows 10 feature updates from later in the year, which usually arrive in October or November.
However, there’s a chance this will be the last feature update Windows 10 gets. Microsoft has committed to supporting the OS via security updates until 14 October 2025, just over a decade since it first launched. However, the vast majority of resources will now be going into the development of Windows 10 moving forward.
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.
However, as with previous updates, you’ll probably have to be patient. Microsoft is known to throttle up availability of feature update in order to manage demand, so it might be weeks or even months after the official release date that your PC is eligible.
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 weeks, Microsoft teased, announced and released the beta for Windows 11.
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 passwordless 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.
In the 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.
A 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
In an article ahead of its official reveal, XDA Developers revealed two other new features – Universal Print and Windows Autopilot both provide cloud-based services for businesses. It’s not clear if they’ll also arrive in the 21H2 update, but business customers are likely to be Microsoft’s primary focus for the future of Windows 10.