Windows 10 21H1 officially available for download starting May 18

Windows 10 21H1 (May 2021 Update) is finally rolling out to compatible devices, and here's how to get it.

Windows 10 version 2004, May 2020 Update, downloaded on PC
Windows 10 version 2004, May 2020 Update, downloaded on PC
  • Microsoft has officially released Windows 10 21H1 (May 2021 Update) on May 18, 2021.
  • The new version is available for versions 20H2 and 2004 with an enablement package.
  • Older versions of Windows 10 can upgrade to version 21H1 but as a full reinstallation.

The Windows 10 May 2021 Update (version 21H1) is rolling out as a free update for compatible devices starting on May 18, 2021. This is the eleventh feature update available for desktops, laptops, and tablets that introduces a small set of improvements and features to enhance productivity and security.

The new version is available as an optional install through the Windows Update settings. Since this is an update based on the same core system files available on version 20H2 and 2004, devices running the last two versions will receive the new feature update as a small enablement package that will install as a cumulative update without the need for reinstallation. However, if your device is running a version nearing the end of service (such as version 1909), then Windows 10 will eventually download and install the new version automatically.

Download Windows 10 21H1, May 2021 Update

Starting on May 18, 2021, if the computer has version 20H2 or 2004, you can upgrade manually to the May 2021 Update (version 21H1) by checking the “Windows Update” settings page and clicking the Download and install option. After the package downloads, the computer will need to restart to complete applying the new version. The entire upgrade process should only take around five minutes. If the installation option is missing, the new version still not fully compatible with your hardware and software configuration. 

If you have an older version, you can still install version 21H1 through Windows Update. However, it may take a while before the update becomes available for your device since Microsoft is initially only updating versions 20H2 and 2004. Also, remember that upgrading from version 1909 or older will require full reinstallation.

Update Assistant and Media Creation Tool

Alternatively, you can download Windows 10 21H1 manually using the Update Assistant, which allows you to force the upgrade in case that Windows Update is not working. Also, you can use the Media Creation Tool to perform an in-place upgrade without losing your files, but consider using these tools will require a complete reinstallation of the operating system.

You can even use the Media Creation Tool to perform a clean install of the May 2021 Update, which can help fix problems and improve performance. Also, you can download the ISO file with version 21H1 to perform an in-place upgrade or clean install from USB.

What’s new on Windows 10 21H1, May 2021 Update

The eleventh refresh of Windows 10 is a minor release without many changes, and you won’t see new features, but it includes some improvements around quality, remote access, and security.

For example, version 21H1 will add multi-camera support to set up Windows Hello for secure authentication. You will find improvements with Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG), Robocopy, memory usage, and support for remote work scenarios when using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC). You can check out this guide to find out more about the new features and improvements shipping with the May 2021 Update.

You can start downloading the new semi-annual feature update starting on May 18, 2021. If you want to avoid problems during and after the upgrade, you can use this guide with many tips for a successful upgrade.

If you are not ready for the update, Windows 10 won’t automatically install the new version unless your version is getting close to the end of service. If that’s the case, you can use this guide to block and postpone the May 2021 Update on your computer.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].