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Microsoft might move to once-a-year updates for Windows 10

Surface Laptop 3 15
Surface Laptop 3 15 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft might move to a single feature update per year for Windows 10 starting in 2021.
  • The shift would free up Microsoft engineers to work on Windows 10X.
  • If this is the case, Microsoft could work on updates for Windows 10 and Windows 10X going forward.

Windows 10 news is building up today. Following our report on Microsoft planning to launch Windows 10X as a web-first OS, reports emerged that Microsoft might make a major shift in its update schedule for Windows 10. According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft might switch to a single feature update for Windows 10 each year. If this happens, it would free Microsoft engineers up to focus on Windows 10X as well. If this shift occurs, current reports state that the shift would start in 2021.

According to Foley and sources she's spoken with, Microsoft could switch to one feature update for Windows 10 in 2021. Bringing all of the new reports together, this would mean that Microsoft would ship Windows 10X updates in spring and Windows 10 updates in fall going ahead.

Foley outlines what this new update schedule could look like in her report. In 2020, Microsoft would roll out Windows 10 20H2, which is a minor feature update. Then, in spring 2021, Microsoft would release Windows 10X. Following that, in the fall of 2021, Microsoft would then release the next feature update for Windows 10, which would be 21H2 if the company sticks with the current naming convention.

As with any reports on internal plans that Microsoft has not shared publicly, these schedule changes might not happen or could change in the future. If they did roll out in a way similar to what's been reported, it would be a major shift for Microsoft's strategy for updating Windows 10.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

17 Comments
  • So... No new features and design improvements for legacy Windows 10 until the next fall?.. Damn, it doesn't look like a "major focus on Windows 10 updates", as it was reported recently... All these changes really make me feel like to move to the Apple software...
  • Right, seems like a reversal.
  • Seems about right. The new "features" they've added recently are pretty anti-climatic anyway. Mind as well queue them up so there is more buzz around each new release. I'm sure the dev branches will still exist so nerds can still preview them well in advance. The general public could care less about what was in this latest incremental update.
  • This Fall. Not that it will be a major update, but there is still time to roll out some design changes, such as the new start menu design.
  • Since the fall update will be of the "small update that toggles a switch" type like 1909, I think actually getting the new start menu design in that update is somewhat unlikely, albeit not impossible, considering they'd probably just need to update the Start Menu Experience Host for that. Still, I wouldn't get my hopes up.
  • They should just hire more engineers. Features are already slow to come for Win 10. Look at how long we've been waiting for the GUI to be aligned. Now slow it down more to work on 10X. Seems their over their head.
  • Right? It's no small wonder how a trillion dollar company can operate like that.
  • I think that is a good idea.
    We don't really need major feature updates twice a year.
    Last year and this year's fall update are minor updates.
    In fall, Microsoft should focus on fixing bugs and improving features already in Windows 10.
  • It's not like they have added compelling features anyways.
  • Can we get a once every 2 years next? Windows 10 doesn't need all these useless features its been getting. Bug fixes, security, patches is enough.
  • Hot take, Windows 10 doesn't need new features. Sure it can't stay stagnate forever, but the OS isn't in immediate need of a refresh. I would much prefer if Microsoft focused their W10 efforts on updating the inconsistent parts of the UI, bug fixes, and improving the in-box apps. I'm fine with software engineers moving over to 10X but I fear it's going to come the expense of the aforementioned improvements.
  • i wonder how then they could run chromium edge.
    they run it in the container, which means non stop win32 container run. then what is the benefit of win10x.
    and now they stream the browser? its impossible to understand
  • Apple deliver a yearly update of their platforms so migrating because Microsoft move to one feature update per year is odd. It sounds like double standards are being applied here. It is better to have one feature update per year and monthly security patches and polish them rather than trying to create "features" that isn't that much of an improvement. Getting 10X up and running is a better idea, eventually migrating from 10 Classic to 10X. Moving development resources are logical (same as when Apple shifted resources away from Mac OS Classic to Mac OS X during the transition).
  • Ugh.. Looks like we won't start seeing the fruits of Ralf Groene and Panos Panay's redesign of W10 until next year. So disappoint.
  • How is this helping Windows 10X?! Why is this necessary? How is releasing a feature update once a year consisting of 4 new features any better than releasing twice a year with 2 new features each? How is it helping and whom? There must be some really bad architects and managers at Microsoft.
  • This should have always been the case. Always. There's no need to release stuff that breaks computers left and right. And if people can't wait a year then tough! Stop rushing to put things out! People wait a year for a new car model to come out. There is no reason to rush software out without giving it significant testing and a year seems reasonable enough.
  • Back to yearly 'service packs' which is basically what the H2 builds are anyway