Organizations can now start updating systems to Windows 10, version 21H2, as Microsoft made the update available this week, marking the start of Microsoft’s new annual Windows 10 release cycle.
According to Microsoft, the company is targeting annual feature updates for Windows 10 and is moving away from the semi-annual channel to the new general availability channel. This also marks the start of the 30-month servicing timeline for Windows 10 21H2, a general availability channel release, for enterprise and education editions.
Organizations are urged to begin targeted deployments to validate that apps, devices and infrastructure work with the new release.
Microsoft says the update is available through Windows Server Update Services (including Configuration Manager), Windows Update for Business and the Volume Licensing Service Center.
The release also marks the availability of Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021, which the company says provides enterprise customers with access to an option for special-purpose devices and environments, or other uses that require longer term device update stability. The new client LTSC edition is supported for five years, and the new Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 edition is also available now with a 10-year support lifecycle.
According to Microsoft, the next Windows 10 feature update is slated for the second half of 2022, and at least one version of Windows 10 will be supported trough Oct. 14, 2025.
Home and Pro editions of the November 2021 Update will receive 18 months of servicing and support, and Enterprise and Education editions will receive 30 months of servicing and support beginning today.
What’s in Windows 10, version 21H2
According to Microsoft, the update offers improvements in security, management, virtualization and productivity.
The company says the new version includes changes to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) VPN APIs, including the ability to implement common web-based authentication schemes and to reuse existing protocols.
The update also supports Wi-Fi 6 with Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 Hash-to-Element protocol (WPA3 H2E) to provide better protection from Wi-Fi side-channel attacks designed to steal Wi-Fi passwords and other data.
The company also updated security features in Windows AI Platform, Windows App Platform and Frameworks, Windows Apps, Windows Cryptography, Windows Fundamentals, Windows Input and Composition, Windows Kernel, Windows Media, Windows Office Media, and Windows Virtualization.
Microsoft says the update also closes the gap between Group Policy and mobile device management (MDM) settings, and the device configuration settings catalog has been updated to list over 1,400 settings previously not available for configuration via MDM. New policies in MDM include administrative template policies such as App Compat, Event Forwarding, Servicing, and Task Scheduler.
That mimics the policy management experience in Windows 11, the company says.
According a Tech Community blog, part of Windows 10 Enterprise, Universal Print now supports print jobs of up to 1GB, or a series of print jobs from an individual user that add up to 1GB within any 15-minute period. Universal Print also integrates with OneDrive for web and Excel for web, which allows users on browsers or devices connected to the internet to print documents hosted in OneDrive for web to a printer in their organization without installing printers on devices. Universal Print will also be updated by the end of 2021 to support printing from Microsoft Excel for web.
For users of Azure Virtual Desktop, they can now automatically provision apps to a Windows 10 desktop and allow the apps to run in Azure Virtual Desktop like local apps, which mimics the Windows 11 experience.
The company is also updating versions of Administrative Templates, Group Policy settings reference spreadsheet, Windows 10 Enterprise Evaluation, Windows release health hub, Windows 10 release information and more.