Windows 10’s May 2021 Update, also known as 21H1, was released on May 18, 2021. Like the 20H2 update, this is a smaller update that focuses on security improvements and polish. The big features originally planned for 21H1 have been delayed to 21H2 in late 2021.
What’s New in Windows 10’s May 2021 Update
Windows 10’s May 2021 Update focuses on the user experience, with additional improvements to navigation and notifications. The updated user interface uses a more modern appearance, featuring rounded corners and a thinner design. Two panes of Activity Center, where notifications are posted, have been eliminated and the entire area has been redesigned. Instead of the old screen which presented the notifications in a horizontal line across the bottom, the new screen has a vertical split so you can see them in a single list along the left or right. Users can now reply to individual notifications with an emoji or text reply. Microsoft’s new design follows its Project Neon design language which can be seen in the Fluent Design System as well as in Windows Mixed Reality.
What’s Changed in Windows 10’s May 2021 Update
Changes to the security of Windows 10’s File History feature will be included in this update. For example, the ability to auto-delete File History folders from the Recycle Bin will be disabled. Users will instead have to schedule their scheduled shredding times. It’s possible that with time File History could be disabled completely, but this is not likely to happen. When this update is released to the public, Microsoft will change the name of Windows 10’s Recycle Bin to something much less obvious: the Recycle Folder. The change will not be too bad as most people probably don’t know what the Recycle Bin is and few users need to know what its hidden location is.
What’s Still Coming
Even though the May 2019 Update is essentially being released in two phases, the most exciting features that aren’t delayed to 21H1 are mostly about security. For example, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) comes to Windows 10 in May 2019. Windows Defender ATP is a security suite that uses machine learning and automation to detect and stop threats as they happen. Windows Defender ATP integrates with Microsoft’s Intelligent Security Graph to find threats faster and lets Windows 10 automatically update the security solution to a new threat as it’s identified. Microsoft recently promoted Windows Defender ATP to Windows Defender ATP Advanced Threat Protection. Current enterprise customers can upgrade to the upgraded security suite starting May 2019.
Every version of Windows 10 is scheduled to receive a new feature update. Although the dates for these feature updates change, it’s safe to say that Windows 10 will continue to be available to the public through May 2023. After that, Microsoft will not release a new major feature update for Windows 10. Instead, the company will upgrade all software versions that it still distributes through Windows Update to the latest feature update. Windows 7 will receive the last official support for any operating system version on January 14, 2025. This could theoretically last for a few years, or it could become more gradual. If Windows 7 lasts until January 15, 2025, Windows 10 will have been in existence for more than 14 years.