At the tail end of April, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 version 21H1 is now the Windows 10 May 2021 Update. It’s available for all Windows Insiders and should come to everyone else in, well, May. The good news is that if you just can’t wait, you can install it right now. First, let’s look at what Windows 10 version 21H1 actually is, and then we shall explore how to install the Windows 10 May 2021 update right now.
It’s the next feature update to Windows 10, and it’s been in testing with Windows Insiders since February. It’s also a very minor update. Microsoft only highlighted three features:
- Windows Hello multicamera support to set the default as the external camera when both external and internal Windows Hello cameras are present.
- Windows Defender Application Guard performance improvements including optimizing document opening scenario times.
- Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating performance improvement to support remote work scenarios.
More importantly, it’s worth noting that what you’re installing today is actually not a preview update. These are actually the final bits for the Windows 10 May 2021 Update. Yes, it’s labeled as a preview, but let’s break this down.
Windows 10 version 21H1 isn’t an actual feature update, at least in the traditional sense. With some updates, Microsoft releases a full build that weighs in at over 4GB. That’s a major feature update, and there’s a lot more potential for things to go wrong. When those updates are in the Release Preview channel, they’re still in preview because they have to be serviced before they’re released.
This update, like 20H2 before it, is just an enablement package. Now, Windows 10 versions 21H1, 20H2, and 2004 are all getting the exact same cumulative updates. There’s just that little enablement package that sets them apart. All the enablement package does is light up existing features and increase the build number by one.
In other words, if you go and install the enablement package now, you’ll be on 21H1 but nothing about the bits on your system will actually change. That’s why this isn’t actually a preview update. And when you go to install it, assuming you’re coming from version 20H2 or 2004, it should take a couple of minutes at the most, even if you’re not running top-end hardware.
Getting it through the Windows Insider Program is the easiest way. Once you’re done, you can just unenroll from preview builds.
Using an ISO isn’t necessarily harder, but you do have to download extra stuff. You can also choose to do a clean installation with this method.
Once Windows 10 version 21H1 is released to non-Insiders, this process will change slightly. Installing via Windows Update will be the same, but you won’t have to enroll in the Windows Insider Program to get it. The ISO process will be the same as well; you’ll just have to use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool instead of the Windows Insider Program download page.
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