Beginning with Windows 10, version 21H2, we are transitioning to a new Windows 10 release cadence that aligns with the cadence for Windows 11. We are targeting annual feature updates for Windows 10 and moving from the Semi-Annual Channel to the new General Availability Channel. Today marks the start of the 30-month servicing timeline for Windows 10, version 21H2, a General Availability Channel release, for Enterprise and Education editions.
For those organizations with special-purpose devices and environments, such as manufacturing or healthcare systems, or for those who have other needs for longer term device update stability, we have also released a new version to the Long-Term Servicing Channel: Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021.
Enhancing security, management, virtualization, and quality
Windows 10, version 21H2 offers a scoped set of improvements in the areas of security, management, virtualization, and quality to ensure that your organization and end users stay protected and productive.
Let's start with what's new in security. With Windows 10, version 21H2, we are making some critical changes to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) VPN APIs. This includes the ability to implement common web-based authentication schemes and to reuse existing protocols.
Version 21H2 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 that could steal Wi-Fi passwords and other sensitive information. In a hybrid work situation, users will now be able to keep their web traffic encrypted when connected to open networks or home networks.
With each update, we build a more secure Windows. That's why Windows 10, version 21H2 provides security updates for the following products and features: 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.
Moving on to what's new in management. We have been listening to your feedback and are closing the gap between Group Policy and mobile device management (MDM) settings. The device configuration settings catalog has been updated to list over 1,400 settings previously not available for configuration via MDM. These new MDM policies include administrative template (ADMX) policies, such as App Compat, Event Forwarding, Servicing, and Task Scheduler. We have done the same in Windows 11, thus creating a consistent policy management experience between Windows 11 and Windows 10.
Part of Windows 10 Enterprise, Universal Print now supports print jobs of up to one gigabyte (1 GB) or a series of print jobs from an individual user that add up to 1GB within any 15-minute period. In addition, Universal Print integrates with OneDrive for web and Excel for web. This allows those using any browser or device connected to the internet to print documents hosted in OneDrive for web to a printer in their organization without installing printers on their devices. Universal Print will also be updated by the end of 2021 to support printing from Microsoft Excel for web.
Now let's talk about virtualization. For those using Azure Virtual Desktop, you can now automatically provision apps to a Windows 10 desktop, allowing the apps to run in Azure Virtual Desktop just like local apps—including the ability to copy and paste between remote and local apps. (This functionality is also available in Windows 11 for consistency.)
Which tools are being updated for version 21H2?
With today's release, you can begin targeted deployments of Windows 10, version 21H2 to validate that the apps, devices, and infrastructure used by your organization work as expected with the new features. The enablement package is a great option for installing a scoped feature update like Windows 10, version 20H2 as it enables you to update a device from version 2004, 20H2, or 21H1 to version 21H2 with a single restart, reducing update downtime. To learn more, see Update to Windows 10, version 21H2 by using an enablement package.
To support the release of Windows 10, version 21H2, we have released updated versions of the following tools:
Administrative Templates (.admx) for Windows 10, version 21H2 – While natively accessible via the C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions\ folder in Windows, administrative template files can be downloaded separately and used to populate policy settings in the user interface of Group Policy tools, allowing you to manage registry-based policy settings.
Windows 10 Enterprise Evaluation – For IT professionals interested in trying Windows 10 Enterprise on behalf of their organization, we offer a free 90-day evaluation of Windows 10, version 21H2 and Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021.
We are also updating the key resources you rely on to effectively manage and deploy updates in your organization, including:
Windows release health hub – The quickest way to stay up to date on update-related news, announcements, and best practices; important lifecycle reminders, and the status of known issues and safeguard holds. Windows 10 Enterprise customers can access greater detail from the Health menu in the Microsoft 365 admin center (see "Windows release health") and receiving important notifications and updates in the Message center.
Windows 10 release information – A list of current Windows 10 versions by servicing options, along with release dates, build numbers, end of service dates, and release history.
Windows 10, version 21H2 update history (available with the first servicing release) – A list of all updates (monthly and out-of-band) released for Windows 10, version 21H2 sorted in reverse chronological order. Available with the first servicing release.
With today's release, you can begin targeted deployments of Windows 10, version 21H2 to validate that the apps, devices, and infrastructure used by your organization work as expected with the new features.
For those looking to create custom Cloud PCs based on device images that IT creates—and for those looking for more management options and full integration with Microsoft Endpoint Manager—there is Windows 365 Enterprise. With Windows 365 Enterprise, you can allow users to securely stream their full Windows 10, version 21H2 (or Windows 11) experience from the Microsoft cloud to any device. As announced at Microsoft Ignite 2021, Windows 365 Business will offer similar management capabilities soon.