Microsoft releases two major updates to Windows 10 each year. The first major update for 2021 is Windows 10 21H1 which has a lot of exciting features to introduce. If you are a Windows Insider, you can test the upcoming features in the new release.
Although no official statements have been made by Microsoft, new changes and features to the Operating System have been anticipated from the recent Windows Insider Updates. However, it is not confirmed whether all of these will be included in the final release of the stable version of Windows.
The installation of Windows 10 21H1 should change the build of your OS to 19043. Windows 10 Version 21H1 is expected to be released in March 2021.
Table of contents
Windows 10 21H1 New Features
- Removal of Design Synchronization
- Search Bar results now in Dark Theme
- Disk management and Optimize Drives options in the Settings app
- Stable release of TLS 1.3
- Task Manager displays process architecture
- On-screen keyboard split-view
- Introduction of new gender-neutral emojis
- Multi-app experience in Your Phone application
- Built-in storage health monitoring
- DoH (Secure DNS) configuration in Settings app
- Startup app notifications
- Windows Voice Typing
- Closing words
Windows 10 21H1 New Features
The upcoming version of Windows is expected to bring in some new features, as well as remove a few. The update is said to be minor as it will only be an enabling update. This means that the Windows 10 21H1 update will only enable certain features that are already hidden away in the 20H2.
Removal of Design Synchronization
Windows settings that allow users to sync their desktop background across all their devices will now be disabled. Users will now have to manage their desktop background manually across different devices once Windows has been updated to 21H1.
These settings could previously be found at:
Start Menu -> Settings -> Accounts -> Sync your settings
Search Bar results now in Dark Theme
Microsoft has now also made the Search Bar results have a dark background when the Dark Theme is enabled. With the introduction of this feature, Windows now covers all aspects of its User Interface that support the Dark Theme. Previously, the background of the search results was white (Light) even though the theme of the PC was set to dark.
Now, these search results also have the dark theme applied, as can be seen in the image below.
Disk management and Optimize Drives options in the Settings app
With the installation of Windows 10 21H1, the Disk Management configurations have been duplicated in the Settings application. The system disk was previously only manageable through the Control Panel.
Although the Settings app has already incorporated the “Storage” tab into Windows 10 20H2, it was view only and no major configurations could be done from there. The path to viewing storage settings is:
Start Menu -> Settings -> System -> Storage
The Disk Management Console still has to be accessed if you want to resize, format, or repartition the drives. You can currently access the Disk Management Console by typing in diskmgmt.msc in Run.
With the installation of Windows 10 21H1, all that could previously be done through the Disk Management Console can now also be performed through the Settings application by navigating to the following:
Start Menu -> Settings -> System -> Storage -> Manage disks and volumes
Moreover, Microsoft is also planning to make a few changes to the Optimize Drives option in the Settings app. In the image below, users can now use the Advanced View checkbox to view more details about their respective volumes. However, since this is a work in progress, this button might not perform any actions yet. Microsoft has also added more details to the Current status column.
You should also be able to refresh the displayed information simply by pressing the F5 function key.
Stable release of TLS 1.3
Transport layer Security (TLS) 1.3 is now off of the experimental chart and released as a stable version in Windows 10 21H1. As you may find with any older version of Windows 10, TLS 1.3 is concatenated with “experimental” which is no longer in Windows 10 21H1.
Moreover, TLS 1.2 and 1.3 are now activated by default in version 21H1.
Task Manager displays process architecture
The “Details” tab in the Task Manager now also displays the architecture of the process in which it is run, for example, x86, x64, or ARM. This feature is especially useful for ARM systems.
On-screen keyboard split-view
The on-screen keyboard is an ease-of-access feature in Windows 10 that allows users to use a virtual keyboard accessible through a mouse.
The existing keyboard has gotten better with v21H1 by providing a split version. The keyboard can now be split into 2 from the center so that users can view the application they are using more conveniently.
Moreover, the clipboard and the emojis have been integrated into the keyboard for quick and hassle-free access, which previously had to be called up separately.
Introduction of new gender-neutral emojis
Microsoft is expected to add more than 200 new emojis to Windows. This has been achieved by incorporating support for Unicode Emojis 12.1 and 13.0. This feature was first introduced in the Windows Insider Program in build 21277.
Multi-app experience in Your Phone application
Your Phone is a popular Microsoft application that allows you to connect your phone to your Windows PC by synchronizing your Microsoft account. With this feature, users can now launch Android applications on their PC directly from the Your Phone application. Moreover, each application can be launched separately in a new window.
The multi-app support from Your Phone application was introduced earlier through an insider build.
Built-in storage health monitoring
Microsoft is also working on incorporating a built-in feature in Windows so that users can monitor the health of their storage devices (hard drives) before they actually fail. This will help you avoid any sudden crashes so that you are not worried about losing your data or recovering it from a broken device.
This feature will be available in the following location:
Start Menu -> Settings -> System -> Storage -> Manage disks and volumes -> Properties
You should now be able to see the details of your storage device(s).
DoH (Secure DNS) configuration in Settings app
Microsoft will now be allowing users to encrypt their communication with the DNS servers, making it more secure. Moreover, this can be done through the Settings app, making it convenient and easier to manage.
- This feature is will be accessible by navigating to the following:
Start Menu -> Settings -> Network and Internet
- Now click on Properties beneath the network adapter on the right.
- On the next page, scroll down and click on Edit under DNS settings.
- Change the settings to Manual and then trigger the IPv4 slider to enable it.
- Now enter the DNS server(s) manually, and then select the encryption type from the dropdown menu below it.
Startup app notifications
Some applications, when installed, are capable of automatically running as soon as you log in to your account, such as Skype and Microsoft Teams. Window 10 21H1 will not prompt you of such application upon installation and whether or not they can be configured to run on startup.
Windows Voice Typing
The Windows Voice Typing feature is a feature that allows users to convert their speech to text. It has overtaken the older version known as Windows Dictation, which basically performed the same task.
Users can use this feature by pressing the Ctrl + H shortcut keys, or by clicking the microphone icon from the touch keyboard on Windows 10 21H1.
The first half of the year is always anticipated, as it is when a major update from Microsoft is released that introduces a plethora of new features. These features have been previously tested and scrutinized through the Insider Program, hence they come out as polished as possible.
Remember that some of the features may also be removed from the official release. Which feature are you awaiting the most?
Please note that we will update this page once a new feature is confirmed in Windows 10 Version 21H1 and update the release date once we have a confirmation.
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