Windows 10 v21H1 available “now” if you want to try it early.

Microsoft last night shared all the details about Windows 10 version 21H1, which is the, the next version / ok update to Windows 10 which will be formerly released at sometime late spring.

As expected, this update is another minor update just like 20H2 was back in October 2020 and this will actually be the first time since Microsoft shifted to a bi-annual release cycle that the “Spring” update for Windows 10 is a just a minor one. This means there won’t be any new major feature additions (as the October 2020 Update was the previous year).

If you are a WindowsInsider in the beta channel, you can get Windows 10 version 21H1 today.

How to download it

To download it, you’ll need to go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and then choose to download and install the 21H1, which is build number 19043.844 (KB4601382). The installation process is quick (my Surface Go took about 15 minutes) and its a similar upgrade path/patch experience from version 2004 to 20H2.

Getting Windows 10 21H1 from Windows Update

What will 21H1 bring?

Windows 10, version 21H1 brings with it a new set of features that are designed to improve security, remote access and quality. “The are focused on the core experiences that customers have told us they’re relying on most right now,” explained John Cable, Vice President, Program Management, Windows Servicing and Delivery.

New features in Windows 10 version 21H1 include multi-camera support for Windows Hello, which allows users of PC/laptop with an integrated camera to use an external camera (hello certified) for authentication and sign-in. This update also brings performance improvements for Windows Defender Application Guard as well as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating, the latter getting support for more remote work scenarios.

There’s also a usual long list of big fixes and minor cosmetic updates as you’d expect.

Windows 10 version 21H1 will be available for non-insiders “later in the first half of this calendar year,” John Cable said , and we should get a final release date in the next week or so.

You can get this today of you are a WindowsInsider in the Beta channel. It is optional.

Windows 10 animated Gif (why not)

New Windows 10 Insider build 21286 brings integrated news and interests feed into the taskbar

Microsoft is looking at making the Windows 10 taskbar more useful and interactive by brining your common interests, news a d weather into a neat interactive task bar applet that is designed to keep you productive by not having to open an app or browser to check the latest news, weather or sports results score.

Rolling out in the latest #WindowsInsiders dev build (21286), Microsoft has adding a customisable and collapsible news and interests feed directly to the Windows 10 taskbar.

The collapsible news and interests feed in action (Image (C) Microsoft)

The news feed can be fully personalised to show you news headlines, sports, weather information, and more. Microsoft says the feed can be populated with content from over 4,500 international publications that include the likes of Sky, BBC etc.

Using it seems simple and natural… when you click on an article, it opens in a ‘streamlined reading view’ that dusht get in the way of your apps… And if you don’t like it you can turn it off!

Check it oot if you are a #windowsinsider sna renege to feed back using the feedback hub!

Here’s what’s new in Windows 10s’ “October 2020 Update”

Windows 10 20H2 Update Image

Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 feature has started rolling out and is known as the Windows 10 October 2020 Update, version 20H2. This is the second Windows 10 update this calendar year and brings enhancements to the May 2020 update adding subtle design and performance tweaks rather than bringing loads of new features and changes.

This update is delivered as a cumulative update that is installed on top of version 2004, which means that the update isn’t a full install/upgrade so doesn’t take long to install…. If, however you are not on version 20H2, then the update is delivered as full upgrade. 

Here, I walk through the key changes that I feel are worth a mention – let me know if I have missed anything you feel is worth a mention.

Start menu changes

In this build the Start menu has been streamlined with a tweaked design that removes the solid colour background behind the icon in the apps list and applies a partially transparent background to the tiles, which matches the menu colour scheme that should help to make easier to scan and find an app quickly.

Windows 10 20H2 StartMenu

 

Taskbar Changes

For new users (doesn’t apply to devices upgraded), Windows 10 “can” 0offer a more personalised layout, cleaner, and less clutter taskbar experience. A notable example of this is for users that use the Android “link your phone” or “Your Phone” app – they will now see the Your Phone app pinned in the taskbar. For personal users, if they have an Xbox Live account, then they also see the Xbox app pined by default to the task bar. 

Notifications improvements 

Another subtle change in this build are some changes to the notification experience. From this build onwards, there a new notification icon at the top of the notification group to help the user understand the app that generated the alert/notification.

Also, worth mentioning, the Windows 10 OS now also turns off the Focus Assist notification and summary toast by default to avoid unwanted distractions – though this can be re-enabled if needed.

Changes to “Settings” pages

Microsoft continue to move old settings services to the new Windows 10 Settings pages as well as tweaking the existing pages

  • The About settings page now allows you to copy the device information to the clipboard
  • Any “link” that would have traditionally opened the System page in the old Control Panel will now direct you to the About page in Settings.
  • Microsoft have added the ability to control and change the refresh rate for different connected displayed under the updated Advanced display settings page. 

Changes to the Tablet experience

Since the very first version of Windows 10 back in 2015, Microsoft has had a tablet mode designed to make navigating Windows 10 on a touch screen tablet more…well, tablet like.

This is one of the most slated features in Windows 10 so it’s nice to see that us been given a bit of love in this update. The new tablet experience, introduced with this update, is now the default mode when detaching the keyboard on convertible devices. I like this since it means that users will no longer see a notification asking to select a mode when in keyboardless mode. Microsoft have also removed the tablet mode quick action on non-touch enabled devices

Finally, there is a new control “logic” that allows users to boot into the appropriate mode according to the mode they were last signed in and whether the keyboard is attached to the device or not.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium is baked in)

In this build, Microsoft is now shipping their new Chromium powered Microsoft Edge browser into the Windows 10 operating system. What’s also nice is that open browser tabs will now appear in the App Switcher (Alt + Tab) shortcut like separate apps, but Microsoft do allow this experience to be changed under Settings > System > Multitasking allowing users to configure the Alt + Tab experience to show none, last three, last five tabs or all. 

Windows 10 Multi-Taskingh Settings on Windows 10 20H2

Updated naming conventions on this and future builds

As of this version, Microsoft is also changing the versioning scheme from the year and month (for example 1903) to year and half one or two of the year scheme (for example, this October 2020 Update is version 20H2 because is releasing in the second half of 2020).

What’s Next?

As such the next update which is currently in preliminary stages of testing with #WindowsInsiders using this new versioning scheme, the next version is therefore expected to be 21H1, since it’s expected to release during the first half of 2021.

If you are interested in signing up as an “insider”, you can do so here: 

Not only can you contribute feedback and ideas to the future of Windows10, you can even get recognised for your enthusiasm and drive by coming an MVP!

 

 

What it means to be a #WindowsInsider #MVP

I am proud to share with you that last night, I finally received the official Windows Insider  MVP Award from Microsoft, for my contributions in the Windows development life cycle community in the past 12 months.

Those that know me and work with me, know I’m passionate about technology and have become a real #MicrosoftAdvocate since running the Microsoft business at @cisilion.

What is it?

The Windows Insider MVP award is an additional award to the over arching Microsoft MVP award. It was created and announced in 2016, and is focusing on Windows and Windows Powered Devices.

What’s the Criteria?

The MVP award program rewards participants who contribute significantly, and voluntarily, to their technical communities. While Microsoft doesn’t publish the exact qualification criteria, the nomination process usually includes includes being nominated, detailing your community activities over the past 12 months, including blogging, speaking engagements, social media and contributions to forums or other technical groups (including answers.microsoft.com and techcommunity.microsoft.com)

What it means

It is an honor to be awarded for my work and contributions to this fine community led by @donasarkar and her team of #ninjacats. Its a bit like a passion and second job at times…. Playing with new and experimental features, suggesting and feeding back and influencing the future development for everyone. It’s a small but great community to be a tiny part of globally.

Congratulations! Thank you for your contributions to the Windows community, we are excited to welcome you as a Windows Insider MVP. This award is a token of our appreciation, your leadership and passion help make Windows the best yet. We look forward to collaborating with you and all of our Windows Insider MVPs as we continue to strengthen the Windows Insider MVP (WI MVP) Program.”

What are the benefits?

Outside of a nice badge and trophy, the Microsoft MVP title unlocks access directly to the Microsoft product groups, via webinars, email lists, Yammer community and the invitation-only annual MVP Summit at Microsoft HQ in Redmond.

Additionally, Microsoft MVPs gain software licensing benefits to some Microsoft software titles, LinkedIn Learning and other third-party MVP offers. Speaking to other MVPs and WIMVPs, there is feeling that the MVP Community is like a family of enthusiasts and processionals

Whilst I have not been before, all content presented at the MVP Summit (which is held in March each year), is under a strict non-disclosure agreement. This allows MVPs an incredible level of access to hear about upcoming product changes and to influence product strategy and feed back thoughts, ideas and issues.

Microsoft places a huge amount of value on the stories from MVPs on what’s working well and what the road blocks are for the user and professional community.

I’m told content is presented well and that there is a great opportunity for open discussion…I am told there also “time” for some social events including dinners as well as tour of some of the special places on the Microsoft Redmond Campus….but most of all the opportunity to meet the amazing people that design, build and market some of the best products, services and platforms that set out to “empower every personal and every organisation on the planet to achieve more”.

Finally.. I hear there also lots and lots of geeky swag and stickers..

https://insider.windows.com/en-us/MVPs/rob-quickenden/

Thanks for reading my boast post!

Rob

Microsoft announces Windows 7 Extended Security Updates for Windows E5 customers.

As most people know, Windows 7 is going out of support January 14, 2020. Whilst there are now (according to Microsoft, 850 Million devices running Windows 10), and many many more organisations plans to have done so by the end of this year, Microsoft have yet again proven that they are listening to what their customers need and want and (subject to a number of conditions), have introduced Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) for customers that are invested in Windows 10 but just “need a little more time to migrate”.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced a new “promotion” as they are calling it for Windows E5 and Microsoft 365 E5 to address this.

As of the 1st June customers with active subscription licenses to Windows 10 Enterprise E5, Microsoft 365 E5, or Microsoft 365 E5 Security (as of December 31, 2019) will get Windows 7 Extended Security Updates for 1 Year as a “free” benefit.

With this limited-time “promotion”, organisations will have more time and options to continue receiving Windows 7 security updates after end of support the official support cycle in Jan 2020..

What happens after this extended date?

After this date – the charges previously communicated take effect. It is worth noting that this benefit only applies to customers using the advanced SKUs  – this means users on Windows Pro, Windows E3 or Microsoft E3 for example will NOT get the extra benefit. 

Uploaded image: No description set. W7 ESU.jpg

Information verified via Microsoft.