Windows 10 21H1 will be the eleventh update refresh since the original release and the first semi-annual feature update of 2021, which Microsoft plans to make available during the first half of the year with fixes and a small set of features.
Microsoft typically rolls out two feature updates each year. The one in the spring is usually considered the more significant release with new features, improvements, and visual changes. At the same time, the one in the fall is a smaller update designed to complement the previous release without anything significant.
In 2021, the company is changing the approach to continue updating Windows 10, making the first update the minor release to ensure that engineers have more time to work on the second feature update, which will be considered the major rollout.
Windows 10 version 21H1 will be an optional update available for devices running versions 2004 and 20H2. However, the company will initially limit the availability, and placing safeguard holds to prevent potential problems for not yet fully compatible devices. When the new version becomes available for your device, you will receive a “Feature update to Windows 10, version 21H1” notification to download it manually through Windows Update.
If you are a “seeker,” you may force the upgrade by clicking the Check for updates button in the Windows Update settings and then clicking the Download and install button (Beta Channel only for now). Alternatively, you will also be able to install the spring 2021 update using the Media Creation Tool to perform a clean install or in-place upgrade. Or you will also be able to use the “Update Assistant” or download the ISO file to create a USB bootable media to proceed with the upgrade.
In this guide, we will highlight the new features and improvements available with Windows 10 version 21H1.
Windows 10 21H1 new features summary
- New Windows Hello multi-camera feature.
- Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) improvements.
- Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) improvements.
- New Microsoft Edge (Chromium) support for Windows 10 kiosk mode.
- WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Service improvements.
- Updates the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Device Management (DM) sync protocol.
- Windows 10 startup times for apps with roaming settings improvements.
What’s new on Windows 10 21H1
As part of the new features, version 21H1 won’t significantly change the way you use Windows 10. Instead, it will focus on some key areas, including quality, remote access, and security.
For example, if you use Windows Hello for biometric authentication, the new multi-camera support will help you to set another camera the default when using high-end displays that include integrated webcams.
On Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG), this new release fixes a delay problem when opening a Microsoft Office. It improves file copying for files over 400MB in size when using the Robocopy command-line tool. And it addresses a problem that causes high usage of system memory when the WDAG container is idle.
Windows 10 21H1 also introduces better support for remote work scenarios when using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC). Also, it fixes slow membership propagation when editing a user or computer group in Active Directory (AD).
Changes and improvements
In addition to the small set features, this minor update includes some under the hood tweaks, including:
- New support for using the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge as the assigned access single kiosk app.
- Improves startup times for applications that have roaming settings when User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) is turned on.
- Updates the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Device Management (DM) sync protocol by adding a check-in reason for requests from the client to the server. The check-in reason will allow the mobile device management (MDM) service to make better decisions about sync sessions. With this change, the OMA-DM service must negotiate a protocol version of 4.0 with the Windows OMA-DM client.
- Turns off token binding by default in Windows Internet (WinINet).
- New dfslogkey in
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/MICROSOFT/dfslog. The RootShareAcquireSuccessEvent field has the following possible values, including a default value of 1 to enable the log, and a value other than 1 disables the log.
- Improves the ability of the WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Service to ignore invalid Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Protocol (WPAD) URLs that the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server returns.
- Enhances data loss prevention and insider risk management solution functionalities in Microsoft 365 endpoints.
Feature update fixes
These are the fixes available with Windows 10 21H1:
- Fixed a problem that prevents traditional desktop (Win32) apps from opening as a different user when using the runas command.
- Addressed an issue that displays unexpected screens during the OOBE.
- Fixed a problem causing video playback to flicker when rendering on certain low-latency capable monitors.
- Addresses an issue in Advanced display settings that show the incorrect refresh rates available for high dynamic range (HDR) displays.
- Fixes a problem that exhausts resources because Desktop Windows Manager (DWM) leaks handles and virtual memory in Remote Desktop sessions.
- Fixed a problem with a stop error that occurs at startup.
- Addresses an issue that might delay a Windows Hello for Business (WHfB) Certificate Trust deployment when you open the Settings > Accounts > Sign-in Options page.
- We fixed high memory and CPU utilization in Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.
- Fixed a problem that displays the wrong language on a console after you change the system locale.
- Addresses an issue that prevents the User Profile Service from detecting a slow or a fast link reliably.
- Fixed a problem with screen rendering after opening games with certain hardware configurations.
- Addresses an issue that causes contention for a metadata lock when using Work Folders.
- We removed the history of previously used pictures from a user account profile.
- Fixed a problem that displays an error when you attempt to open an untrusted webpage using Microsoft Edge or open an untrusted Microsoft Office document.
- Addresses an issue with a memory leak in Internet Explorer 11 that occurs when you use the Chinese language pack.
- Fixed a problem that causes the host process of Windows Remote Management (WinRM) to stop working when it formats messages from a PowerShell plugin.
- Addresses an issue in the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) service that causes a heap leak each time security settings are applied to WMI namespace permissions.
- Fixed a problem with external cameras that support Windows Hello.
- We updated support for hole punch and stapling locations for print jobs with long edge first paper feed direction on certain printers.
- Addresses an issue that might cause the IKEEXT service to stop working intermittently.
- Fixed a problem that might prevent a Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) device from entering the proper power state.
- Addresses an issue that prevents wevtutil from parsing an XML file.
- Fixed a problem that fails to report an error when the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) generates invalid keys of 163 bytes instead of 165 bytes.
- We displayed the proper Envelope media type as a selectable output paper type for Universal Print queues.
- We ended the display of random paper size for a printer when it uses the Microsoft Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) Class Driver.
- We enabled Windows to retrieve updated printer capabilities to ensure that users have the proper set of selectable print options.
- Addresses an issue in which the WinHTTP AutoProxy service does not comply with the value set for the maximum Time To Live (TTL) on the Proxy Auto-Configuration (PAC) file. This prevents the cached file from updating dynamically.
- Fixed a problem that might prevent certain CAD applications from opening if those applications rely on OpenGL.
- Addresses an issue with certain COM+ callout policies that cause a deadlock in certain applications.
- Fixed a problem that might cause a deadlock when a COM server delivers an event to multiple subscribers in parallel.
- Addresses an issue that sometimes prevents the input of strings into the Input Method Editor (IME).
- Fixed a problem that might sometimes prevent some keyboard keys from working, such as the home, Ctrl, or left arrow keys. This issue occurs when you set the Japanese IME input mode to Kana.
- Addresses an issue in which a principal in a trusted MIT realm fails to obtain a Kerberos service ticket from Active Directory domain controllers (DC).
- Fixed a problem with User Datagram Protocol (UDP) broadcast packets that are larger than the maximum transmission unit (MTU). Devices that receive these packets discard them because the checksum is not valid.
- Addresses an issue that might cause stop error 7E in sys on servers running the Network File System (NFS) service.
- Fixed a problem that might prevent the correct Furigana characters from appearing in apps that automatically allow the input of Furigana characters. You might need to enter the Furigana characters manually.
Although these changes, improvements, and fixes are part of the 21H1 update development, Microsoft is also making them available ahead of the feature update release for version 20H2.
Editor’s note: This guide includes features and improvements that appeared until Windows 10 build 19043.844. It should be noted that this guide focuses on features for consumers, as Microsoft may also be adding other features aimed at enterprises, which won’t be included here. (Last updated on February 2021.)