Microsoft set to reverse Feature Update releases in 2021

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 27, 2021
Windows, Windows 10

In the past two years, Microsoft did release a major feature update in the first half of the year and a minor update in the second half. It appears that the company plans to reverse the process: the next feature update for Windows 10, which is the first update of 2021, appears to be a smaller update, the second feature update, released in the second half, will be a larger update.

Smaller feature updates install just like other cumulative updates for the platform. The download and installation process is quick, and a single restart is required for the update to complete. Full feature update releases have a larger size, and they often require multiple restarts to be installed completely on the system.

Microsoft released KB4598291  recently to the Release Preview channel. Our Deskmodder colleagues found evidence in the update package that confirm Microsoft's plans.

windows 10 21h1

In other words: the Windows 10 version 21H1 feature update will be a smaller update that will be unlocked with an Enablement Package just like Windows 10 version 20H2. The Enablement Package unlocks features of 21H1 on the upgraded device.

It is already possible to install these, but that is suggested only for testing purposes. All that is required is to install the KB4598291 update and run a series of DISM commands as described on this page on the Deskmodder site.

Note: unless for testing purposes, it is recommended to wait for the final release of Windows 10 version 21H1. Make sure you create backups of the system and all important data before you proceed.

Microsoft has yet to confirm this officially but it seems that the company plans to reverse the feature update releases in 2021. The official release date of Windows 10 21H1 is not known either, as Microsoft has not revealed it yet, but it could come a bit earlier than usually considering that it is a smaller update and not a larger feature update.

Windows 10 version 21H1 will make just a few changes and introduce just a few new features to the operating system, including:

  • TLS 1.3 support is no longer experimental.
  • Manual DNS over HTTPS configuration.
  • Search when configuring applications in the Settings app.
  • Disk Management in Settings.

Closing Words

Updates to Windows 10 21H1 should run a lot smoother and with less reported issues than previous first-half of the year update releases. The second update of 2021 will be a larger update, along with more features but also more issues that users may experience when upgrading.

Microsoft set to reverse Feature Update releases in 2021
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Microsoft set to reverse Feature Update releases in 2021
Microsoft may reverse the releases of feature updates for the company's Windows 10 operating system in 2021 by releasing a small update first.
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  1. Peterc said on January 28, 2021 at 11:22 pm

    Before having Windows 10 “forced on me” when I bought a new laptop, I’d literally given up trying to follow Microsoft’s regularly changing update/upgrade paradigms and terminology, and even now, it’s mentally tiring to have to do so. My current attitude is: when my current build reaches end of life, I’ll figure out what the deal is at that point. For all I know, it may have changed again by then!

  2. John C. said on January 28, 2021 at 3:03 am

    It might be a temporary thing. MS has plans to dramatically modify the W10 UI in the future, and this might be a move simply to give them some breathing room for further development of those changes.

  3. Sir_Timbit said on January 27, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    That’s interesting but the part I’d like to know is which release will have the longer support time with this change. Typically the spring release was only supported for 18 months and the fall release was supported for 30 months. Looking at their Lifecycle FAQ page, that hasn’t changed yet.

  4. bevode said on January 27, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    When you said manual DNS over HTTPS it means in the network settings or by Powershell script (only to know if i have to found the command on reddit ^^)

  5. vnb said on January 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    what is their reasoning for this? small update in spring so more time for the beta / preview / whatever they call it to get the feedback in? (as in… less disruption due to thanksgiving / x’mas / new year) as opposed to less time to fix whatever they missed / fuck up in the actual release (due to same hol period)

    1. Anonymous said on January 27, 2021 at 9:07 pm

      Do you seriously think Microsoft is concerned about Christmas or any other holiday, other than on potential target for selling product!

      Underlying strategy for Microsoft is control of software in the educational and corporate world. Get them at school, they take it to work. Get them at work, they take it home.

      Companies exist for one reason only. That’s to make a profit. If they don’t make a profit, it’s all over. Customer satisfaction is secondary. It matters little whether they are genuinely trying to win us over (you complained, we listened) or are trying to increase efficiency (double-speak for ‘reduce staff’) the underlying reason is profit (more sales or reduced cost)..

      1. vnb said on January 30, 2021 at 10:14 pm

        well, if they fucked up the release, they’ll have less time to diagnose / fix things, which will eventually affect their bottomline. that’s the only reason i mention the holidays. it’s not so much how the holidays affect their customers, but how it affect their staffing and all.

  6. pHROZEN gHOST said on January 27, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    There seems to be a lot of confusion within Microsoft. Their major and minor release teams don’t seem to be working together. So they are going to swap them around and hope for the best?

    Right now PaintDesktopVersion is broken. It displays 19041… when 19042 has been installed. And in settings -> system -> about, the install date is the date 19041 was installed not the date 19042 was installed even though that is the version listed as being installed.

    Will they again be changing the naming convention (21H1 becomes 2021.1)?

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