Windows 10 “November 2021 Update” released
Windows 10 version 21H2, also known as the “November 2021 Update,” is now generally available, marking the start of a new update release cadence for the Windows 10 operating system.
The new operating system can be accessed on eligible devices by “searching” for it through the Windows Update service. Windows 10 systems running version 2004 or later may undergo a fast “in-place upgrade” in which the underlying operating system bits are automatically replaced. It’s also available to IT pros in the usual places, namely, “Windows Server Update Services (including Configuration Manager), Windows Update for Business, and the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC),” according to John Cable, vice president of program management for Windows Maintenance and Delivery.
Microsoft promises a reboot to activate the new operating system due to the use of “activation packages” implemented with Windows 10 version 2004 and later. New operating system bits are already present on the machines (in a sleep state) with the approach of the activation package.
Windows 10 version 21H2 has some improvements, as described in this announcement for IT pros. They understand:
- The addition of VPN APIs for the Universal Windows Platform, which facilitates the use of “common web authentication schemes”.
- Wi-Fi 6 support with “Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 Hash-to-Element (WPA3 H2E) protocol”, which promises “better protection against Wi-Fi side channel attacks that could steal words from Wi-Fi pass and other sensitive information, “especially from home networks.
- Mobile Device Management (MDM) parity with Group Policy settings, with 1,400 MDM settings added.
- Universal printing support for 1 GB print jobs per individual user, as well as integration with OneDrive for the web, as well as Excel for the web (taking place in “late 2021”).
- Automatic application provisioning for Azure Virtual Desktop users, with copy-paste functionality between “remote and local applications”.
Windows 10 version 21H2 also provides security updates to other Microsoft products. The list includes “Windows AI Platform, Windows Application Platform and Frameworks, Windows Applications, Windows Cryptography, Windows Fundamentals, Windows Entry and Composition, Windows Kernel, Windows Media, Windows Office Media and Windows Virtualization â.
The biggest benefit for IT pros, however, is probably the move to a once-a-year feature update model, which starts with Windows 10 version 21H2. Windows 10 version 21H2 inaugurates a new change of “service channel”. It begins a feature update cycle once a year, with the update arriving in the second half of a given year.
For example, Microsoft’s next Windows 10 feature update release is scheduled for H2 2022. There will be no H1 2022 OS release.
Until now, Microsoft has released Windows 10 feature updates twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. A feature update is a brand new version of the Windows operating system. When Windows 11 was released, Microsoft moved on to feature updates once a year for that operating system, and it’s now doing the same on the Windows 10 side.
The old term “semi-annual channel” used to describe Windows 10 feature updates is now discontinued. Microsoft refers to this version of Windows 10 version 21H2 as the âGeneral Availability Channelâ version.
Support for Windows 10 Version 21H2 editions
Despite moving to a once-a-year release model with Windows 10 version 21H2, nothing changes in terms of how long it takes to support a feature update before requiring an upgrade. Microsoft varies the duration of support depending on the edition of Windows 10 used.
For example, Windows 10 Home and Pro editions will be supported on the November 2021 update for 18 months, while users of Enterprise and Education editions will get 30 months of support. These support conditions have not changed with this release.
Microsoft recently warned As Windows 10 version 2004 is approaching its end of support phase, which will take place on December 14, 2021. At the end of support, security updates from Microsoft are not arriving.
The support clock, however, begins today (November 11) for Windows 10 version 21H2, notes Microsoft’s announcement.
General availability channel version
Microsoft recommends that organizations initiate “targeted” deployments of Windows 10 Version 21H2 before performing an organization-wide operating system deployment.
In the past, Microsoft referred to targeted versions of the Windows 10 operating system designed for testing purposes. A targeted version came before a commercial version for general availability. Many organizations waited for the GA release to begin their operating system testing, which was not optimal from Microsoft’s perspective.
However, Microsoft abandoned this targeted nomenclature years ago and started using more bizarre terms, such as “business insight”. It was perhaps even more confusing.
The circumstances are perhaps less ambiguous now with Windows 10 version 21H2 bearing a General Availability Channel version stamp. The term general availability implies a commercial release.