Microsoft moves Windows 10 feature updates to an annual cycle

Why it matters: Microsoft is accelerating its Windows11 rollout starting today. To facilitate this, Windows 10 will proceed to an annual feature update cadence and will also likely see fewer significant additions since the OS has entered its end-of-life cycle. Microsoft promises support for Windows 10 until October 14th, 2025.

On Patch Tuesday, Microsoft announced it is adjusting its Windows 10 update cadence to fall in line with Windows 11. Beginning with the 21H2 patch, Windows 10 users can expect regular feature updates yearly.

“We will transition to a new Windows 10 release cadence to align with the Windows 11 cadence, targeting annual feature update releases, ” said John Cable, Microsoft’s vice president of Windows servicing and delivery. “The next Windows 10 feature update is slated for the second half 2022. We will continue to support at least one version of Windows 10 through Oct. 14, 2025. ”

He also said the servicing channel, formally known as the “Semi-Annual Channel, ” has been renamed the “General Availability Channel, ” starting with today’s update.

The Windows 10 21H2 patch isn’t that significant. It brings WPA3 H2E support for better WiFi security. It also streamlines Windows Hello for Business to allow for quicker, smoother, passwordless deployments. Lastly, the update adds GPU compute support to WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) and EFLOW (Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows). Utilizing GPU cycles should aid machine-learning deployments along with other heavy workloads.

While there might be more substantial Windows 10 updates in the future, users should keep expectations in check. Microsoft is heavily focused on Windows 11, and Cable said Microsoft is stepping up its Windows 11 rollout starting today.

“Based on the positive rollout update experience and user feedback we have seen to date, we are advancing the pace of the rollout faster than we previously anticipated, and now making the Windows 11 upgrade more broadly available to eligible Windows 10 devices [sic], ” says the VP.

Microsoft’s accelerated Windows 11 rollout might explain its decision to end support for x64 emulation in Windows 10. This move will essentially force Surface Insiders who run x64 apps to upgrade to Windows 11, even if that means they require a newer device. Microsoft sneakily announced this today by updating a not exactly one-year-old blog post about the x64 emulation preview released last December.

“x64 emulation for Windows is now generally for sale in Windows 11, ” the update reads. “For those interested in experiencing this, a PC running Windows 11 on Arm is required. ”

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