The next version of Windows 10 is most definitely inbound after Microsoft began forcing the code onto its loyal band of unpaid testers last night as a "recommended update."
Originally emitted as a "seeker experience" to the beta channel in February, meaning Insiders had to opt to download the update, the situation changed last night and "Insiders who previously didn’t choose to install 21H1 will now automatically receive 21H1 in the Beta Channel."
The company had previously warned this day was coming, and now here we are.
The good news is that users are unlikely to notice what is effectively a jumped-up service pack slithering onto their systems. Aside from tweaks to the multicamera support in Windows Hello and a bump in Windows Defender Application Guard performance, there is precious little in the update.
The bleeding edge (assuming one rubs one's thumb really hard on a really blunt blade) of the Windows Insider Dev Channel has not fared much better. Aside from occasionally borking the operating system for the tiny proportion of users equipped with ARM64 devices, the channel has been bereft of excitement for quite some time.
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The most recent emission, build 21322, ripped one of the last vestiges of years past from the OS with the removal of the 3D Objects special folder from File Explorer. Unfortunate timing, considering the frankly barking mad Microsoft Mesh mixed reality platform announced at Ignite.
Mesh, a real-world demonstration that Microsoft has too much money to spend on keynotes, is the latest attempt by the company to punt the concept of distributed teams taking part in virtual meetings via "holoportation". Once again, the idea of user avatars fiddling with holographic models was rolled out, this time with added integration with Teams and Dynamics 365.
Still, the pushing of 21H1 is further evidence that the next update will soon be upon Windows 10 users and herald what current Windows supremo, Panos Panay, described during the Ignite event as a "massive year" for the operating system.
Then again, Panay is also notable for the missing-in-action Surface Neo and the impressively underwhelming and overpriced Surface Duo phone. Insiders will be fervently hoping that once 21H1 is out of the way, Panay's definition "massive" consists of more than a thwacking of the Windows GUI with the fluent stick. ®