Microsoft rolls out Windows 10X-inspired May 2021 Update

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

19 May, 2021

Businesses are able to update their Windows 10 systems with version 21H1, dubbed the May 2021 Update, which is designed to deliver features that improve security, remote access and the quality of experience.

The update, which will take a staggered and measured approach to rollout, introduces several new security-oriented features, namely multi-camera support for Windows Hello, Windows Defender Application Guard, and a group policy service. 

These are inspired by work Microsoft has done on its Windows 10X operating system, which was initially designed for dual-screen foldable devices but has since evolved to be a more general-purpose system.

“In the current environment, we know that you continue to rely on your PCs more than ever. As a result, we are initially taking a measured seeker-based approach to the rollout of the May 2021 Update,” said Microsoft’s vice president for program management, Windows servicing and delivery, John Cable. 

“We are throttling availability up over the coming weeks to ensure a reliable download experience for all, so the update may not be offered to you right away. Additionally, some devices might have a compatibility issue for which a safeguard hold is in place. In these cases, we will not offer the update until we are confident that you will have a good update experience.”

Among the features included in 21H1 is Windows Hello multi-camera support, which will set the default as the external camera when both external and internal Windows Hello cameras are connected to a device. 

Application Guard, meanwhile, is designed to help prevent old and emerging attacks by isolating untrusted entities in a Hyper-V-powered container. The Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC), finally, will receive a performance update to better support remote work scenarios.

All editions of the May 2021 Update will receive 18 months of servicing and support, with commercial organisations recommended to begin targeted deployments to ensure services and infrastructure works as expected. 

The update also integrates elements of the once completely separated Windows 10X platform that had been in development. Instead of launching Windows 10X as a standalone product, Cable said, Microsoft is using teachings from the development process to integrate its core elements into other parts of Windows and alternative services. 

The new app container technology at the heart of Microsoft Defender Application Guard, for example, is derived from Windows 10X, as is an enhanced voice typing experience, and a modernised touch keyboard.