Windows 10 version 21H1 for desktop will be another 'minor' OS release

Windows Update
Windows Update (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • 21H1 for Windows 10 desktop is coming this spring.
  • It will release as a minor servicing style update.
  • No significant new features or changes are expected.

Microsoft is yet to detail its plans for Windows 10 releases in 2021, which is notable only because in previous years, Windows Insiders would already be testing the next feature update by now, but they're not. Microsoft hasn't acknowledged that a 21H1 release of Windows 10 exists, but contacts familiar with Microsoft's plans say it does. So, I figured I'd piece together everything I've heard about it so far.

According to my sources, Windows 10 version 21H1 will once again be a servicing style update, just like version 20H2 before it. This means that the update won't include any blockbuster new features or changes, and will instead focus on "business critical" work and under the hood enhancements that prime the OS for the bigger Sun Valley update coming later in the year.

Internally, Microsoft describes the update as a tightly scoped release that is "complimentary" to Sun Valley. This means that the update won't be introducing huge new platform changes and is purposefully designed to be as minimal as possible so that the majority of engineering work can remain focused on the bigger Sun Valley release.

What's the schedule?

I understand that 21H1 development is scheduled to reach feature complete status this week, which should mean Insiders will begin testing the update in the Beta and Release Preview channels soon. It's likely that 21H1 for desktop will see a handful of minor additions backported from the Dev Channel, similar to what Microsoft did with 20H2 last year.

According to an internal schedule seen by Windows Central, 21H1 for desktop is expected to be done in April, and I'm told the company is hoping to begin rolling out the 21H1 release sometime in May. The update will install like a monthly cumulative update for users on Windows 10 version 2004 or 20H2, meaning the update will apply much faster and is generally less risky to install.

As Microsoft prepares Windows 10 version 21H1 for release, the company is also simultaneously working on the more significant Sun Valley update scheduled for this holiday. Sun Valley is expected to include a significant visual "rejuvenation" of the Windows UI and new user features. Historically, the first update of the year is usually the bigger one, but that has been reversed for 2021.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the Windows release schedule for 2021? Are you excited about a bigger OS update coming later in the year? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads