Microsoft releases Windows 10 November 2021 update, version 21H2

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

Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft made a subtle but significant shift in its Windows business on Tuesday that aims to minimize the frustration that customers experience with updates.

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

Windows remains critical to Microsoft’s business, contributing about 13% of revenue. By 2020, Windows had nearly 83% market share after device shipments, while Google Chrome OS had 10% and Apple’s Mac OS had 7%, according to analytics firm Gartner.

By halving the number of updates, Microsoft is falling in line with what has become the industry standard. Apple releases a new version of MacOS once a year, and its Apple iOS received only one annual update, just like Google’s Android operating system. However, Google says it issues a full update to Chrome OS approximately every four weeks.

Microsoft released Windows 10 in 2015 and had updated it twice a year, prompting complaints from some customers who do not like the extra configuration work. In 2019, Microsoft began rolling out a major update per year with new features and a smaller one focusing on performance and reliability.

With Windows 11, Microsoft completely scrapped the approach twice a year, citing customer input. The company will continue to support Windows 10 until October 2025, for those who are 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 tailor Windows to meet your needs as part of our ongoing support for Windows 10, and we’ve targeted the November 2021 update to focus on productivity, administration and security,” John 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 one gigabyte. And customers will now be able to use the Azure Virtual Desktop service to deliver apps for cloud-based Windows 10.

Users can check if the update is available by opening the Settings app, navigating to Update & Security, selecting Windows Update and pressing the Check for Updates button. A Download and Install button appears if the PC is ready for the update.

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

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