Microsoft has advised Windows 10 users that they will no longer see major updates to the operating system every six months.
The company has previously announced that Windows 11 would adopt an annual update cycle, where major feature releases are limited to once a year. It’s now putting Windows 10 on that same release cycle, following the launch of the November 2021 update (21H2).
“We will transition to a new Windows 10 release cadence to align with the Windows 11 cadence, targeting annual feature update releases,” Microsoft states in a blog post.
“We are now renaming the servicing option for releases to the General Availability Channel starting with the November 2021 Update (Note: this replaces the previous ‘Semi-Annual Channel’ term for the servicing option). The next Windows 10 feature update is slated for the second half of 2022.”
In reality, it’s highly unlikely that new features will be developed for Windows 10 alone. The best Windows 10 owners can hope for is that features being developed for Windows 11 are also passed down to the older operating system.
Many of Windows 11’s launch features have been quietly added to Windows 10, including a revamped Microsoft Store and support for Direct Storage, which improves gaming performance in systems with high-performance SSDs.
The Microsoft blog also introduces a curious change of terminology when it comes to how long Windows 10 will be supported.
Microsoft had previously stated that Windows 10 would be supported until late 2025, but the new blog post states “we will continue to support at least one version of Windows 10 through Oct 14, 2025”.
There are several versions of Windows 10, including Home and Pro, as well as Enterprise and Education editions. The latter two have longer support cycles, with Microsoft promising to support this latest November release for 18 months on Home and Pro, and for 30 months on Enterprise and Education.
The promise to support “at least one version” until that final cut-off date suggests that not all four of those will make it to the finish line, although it seems highly unlikely that Microsoft would cut off the most used Home version before that 2025 deadline.
The 21H2 update
There’s certainly not much for Windows 10 users to get excited about in the 21H2 update.
The limited set of new features added to Windows 10 include support for a more secure Wi-Fi standard, improved support for password-free logins, and better GPU performance for those using the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Nothing, frankly, that is going to be noticed by the vast majority of Windows 10 users.
The 21H2 update will be gradually offered to Windows 10 users via Windows Update over the coming weeks. If you’re desperate to update your system, you can manually check for it by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and selecting Check for updates.
Be careful: you may be offered the Windows 11 update here. If you don’t want the new operating system – and there’s no standout reason to upgrade to Windows 11 – then take care not to trigger the update in this screen.