Microsoft releases Windows 10 November 2021 update, version 21H2

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, speaks during an interview on the David Rubenstein Show in New York on September 27, 2017.

Christopher Godney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft made a small but significant transformation of its Windows business on Tuesday aimed at reducing customer frustration with updates.

After releasing Windows 11 last month, Microsoft’s latest operating system, the company said it would only release a one-year update to its predecessor, Windows 10, instead of forcing consumers to update twice a year as has been the practice until now. Windows 11 runs on a similar annual schedule.

Windows remains important to Microsoft’s business, contributing around 13% of revenue. In 2020, Windows captured nearly 83% of the market share through unit shipments, while Google Chrome OS had 10% and Apple’s Mac OS had 7%, according to research firm Gartner.

By halving the number of updates, Microsoft is in line with what has become the industry standard. Apple releases a new version of macOS once a year, and its iOS from Apple only receives one yearly update, as does Google’s Android operating system. However, Google says it releases a full Chrome OS update about every four weeks.

Microsoft released Window 10 in 2015 and has been updating it twice a year, which sparked complaints from some customers who don’t like the extra configuration work. In 2019, Microsoft started rolling out one bigger update annually with new features and another smaller one focused on performance and reliability.

With Windows 11, Microsoft scrapped the twice-yearly approach entirely, citing customer input. The company will continue to support Windows 10 until October 2025, for those not ready to upgrade.

On Tuesday, Microsoft began releasing the Windows 10 November 2021 Update, also known as Windows 10 version 21H2.

“We continue to listen to customer feedback to adapt Windows to meet your needs as part of our ongoing support for Windows 10, and have defined the scope of the November 2021 update to focus on productivity, management, and security,” Jon Cable, Vice President of Program Management for Windows Service and Delivery, wrote in a blog post.

The update includes stronger security to prevent attacks while using Wi-Fi networks. The upgraded Universal Print feature in Windows 10 Enterprise will be able to handle print jobs of up to 1 GB. Customers will now be able to use the Azure Virtual Desktop service to provide applications for the cloud-based Windows 10 operating system.

Users can check if an update is available by opening the Settings app, going to Update & Security, selecting Windows Update and hitting the Check for updates button. The Download and Install button will appear if your computer is ready for the update.

The Windows 11 release is also moving more quickly than Microsoft expected. Cable added in the post that the company is “now making the Windows 11 upgrade more widely available for eligible Windows 10 devices.”

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