Microsoft Finalizes Windows 10 Version 21H2 for Insider Testers
Microsoft announced on Thursday that Windows 10 version 21H2, also known as the "November 2021 Update," is at the final build stage, and is already available to Windows Insider program participants.
Microsoft previously described in July that it was releasing test builds of Windows 10 version 21H2 to Windows Insider program participants that couldn't make the leap to Windows 11. In its Thursday announcement, Microsoft suggested that "build 19044.1288," now available to Windows Insiders, would mark the finished Windows 10 version 21H2 product.
The announcement did not indicate when Windows 10 version 21H2 would be commercially released, known as "general availability."
Windows 10 Version 21H2 Features
Microsoft has mostly highlighted just a few new features coming with Windows 10 version 21H2.
The new operating system is getting enhanced Wi-Fi security due to WPA3 H2E standards support. It'll also better handle graphics processing unit compute power when using the Windows Subsystem for Linux and "Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows (EFLOW)."
The EFLOW support works with the Azure IoT Hub service and lets organizations tap Linux virtual machine processes that also work with Windows- and Azure-based processes and services. Microsoft had earlier described EFLOW at the preview stage back in January.
Lastly, Microsoft had described back in July that it was planning to deliver a new way to set up passwordless scenarios via a "cloud trust" Windows Hello for Business deployment option, which would be coming to Windows 10 version 21H2. However, it turns out that the cloud trust deployment option will be arriving later.
"The new Windows Hello for Business deployment method known as 'cloud trust' is still under development and will be delivered in a future monthly update to the November 2021 Update," the Thursday announcement indicated.
Windows Hello for Business is Microsoft's facial recognition solution for passwordless access on Windows PCs.
The cloud trust feature delay also was described in a note in this "Windows Hello for Business Deployment Overview" document, which suggested an "early 2022" arrival date for the cloud trust feature:
Windows Hello for Business is introducing a new trust model called cloud trust in early 2022. This trust model will enable deployment of Windows Hello for Business using the infrastructure introduced for supporting security key sign-in on Hybrid Azure AD joined devices and on-premises resource access on Azure AD Joined devices. More information will be available on Windows Hello for Business cloud trust once it is generally available.
The security key sign-in process, noted above, can issue Kerberos Ticket Granting Tickets from the Azure Active Directory service that only become functional when verified at an Active Directory domain. The workflow is described in this Microsoft document.
Windows 10 Version 21H2 Availability
Build 19044.1288 of Windows 10 version 21H2 is already available for all Windows Insider "seekers" who use the Windows Update service to actively get the bits. Microsoft also published a Windows Insider ISO of build 19044.1288, which is available for download here.
Windows 10 version 21H2 has also been distributed to Windows Insider Program for Business participants since last month. These organizational participants in Microsoft's testing program get free support from Microsoft Support if running Windows 10 version 21H2 in the Enterprise, Pro or Education editions. Consumers using the Home edition don't get this Microsoft Support help, though.
Microsoft previously referred to this Windows Insider Program for Business release of Windows 10 version 21H2 as a "commercial preview" release, even though it's just a test version. It, and Windows 11, is accessible through Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Windows Server Update Services for program participants.
Windows 10 version 21H2 is expected to upgrade systems from Windows 10 version 2004 in a fast manner.
The speedy "in-place upgrade" happens because Microsoft used its "enablement packages" technology, where the bits are already present on a machine, but they're in a dormant state. Operating systems older than Windows 10 version 2004, though, will require "a full OS swap" to get to Windows 10 version 21H2.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.