Windows 10 21H1 update promised to be small and nondisruptive

Depending on who you ask, Windows feature updates are either exciting or stress-inducing, maybe even both. While they bring a fair number of new features and improvements, Microsoft's track record in quality and bugs make each bi-annual release sometimes frightening. Microsoft has been working on improving its process and has even adopted a "tick-tock" cadence but, due to global conditions related to the pandemic, it is delaying making big changes until later this year, making Windows 10 21H1 a smaller "scoped" release.

Once heavily criticized for its snail-paced update cycles, delaying major Windows improvements in service packs, Microsoft seemed to have gone to the opposite extreme. After several disastrous releases, Microsoft started to pace its feature updates better, putting the big changes in the first half of the year while reserving the second half for polish and bug fixing. That was the case with last year's 20H1 and 20H2 updates but now Microsoft is switching it up a bit.

VP for Windows Servicing and Delivery Program Management John Cable, announced the upcoming version 21H1 of the operating system and how it will actually be more like last year's 20H2. The Microsoft exec explains that now might not be the best time for big and potentially disruptive changes and the upcoming update will instead focus on security, remote access, and quality. It will be continuing its strategy, though, which means Windows 10 21H2 later this year will be packing quite a number of features.

In practice, this means that the 21H1 update will be smaller and will indeed be delivered using "servicing technology". That's the same system used when installing monthly updates so there shouldn't be much downtime involved. Cable notes, however, that those upgrading from Windows 10 versions older than version 2004 will have to go through the usual feature upgrade process considering it will be a rather big jump to version 21H1.

Of course, users shouldn't be too complacent and still perform backups before the update arrives. Even Microsoft's smaller monthly updates have caused no small amount of headaches due to bugs that sometimes render hardware useless. No specific schedule for Windows 10 21H1's rollout has been revealed yet but the preview is already rolling out to Windows Insiders in the Beta Channel.