If you don’t want to wait for the Windows 10 May 2021 update release date, you can download the features now
While Microsoft updates Windows 10 every month with a few security tweaks and performance enhancements, it saves the biggest and smallest features for two blockbuster updates released every year. Microsoft typically launches the first of these two functional upgrades in the spring, with the second coming in the fall. This year’s first major upgrade is the imaginative May 2021 update, and you can get your hands on it now – without waiting for the official release date.
That’s because Microsoft has started rolling out the Windows 10 May 2021 update to its community of beta testers. These users are referred to as Windows Insiders and are the first to get their hands on the latest features. However, as these features are not yet fully completed, Windows Insiders should report any issues with their hardware – such as speakers or peripherals connected to their PC – and third-party software applications or drivers. This will allow Microsoft to iron out any kinks before the 1.3 billion Windows 10 users receive the update.
Microsoft has a few different levels of beta testers. These are known as Dev Channel (if you choose this you will more often get releases with the roughest level of polishing), Beta Channel (slightly less frequent, but still have potential for disastrous gremlins in the code), and Release Preview Channel (this will only update your system with software that is almost outside the door and thus should be very close to the final product).
After months of testing, the Windows 10 May 2021 Update is now available in the Release Preview Channel.
That means – unless a catastrophic bug is discovered at the last minute that halts its scheduled launch in the coming weeks – this is the very same update that will be coming to millions of Windows 10 users soon. So if you want to avoid a wait, you can download Windows 10 May 2021 Update now as Windows Insider.
OK here we go. To sign up as a Windows Insider (albeit temporarily) to get the latest blockbuster update ahead of time, go to Start> Settings> Privacy> Diagnostics & Feedback and check the box next to “Optional Diagnostics”. Once that’s done, you can now go to Settings> Update & Security> Windows Insider Program. Then you just need to click on “Get started”.
After everything is installed, double check that your machine is running version 21H1
Make sure to choose the “Release Preview Channel”, then click “Confirm” and restart your PC.
After that, you will notice that there are some pending updates. Make sure these are downloaded and installed on your hardware before proceeding to the feature update.
To double check that you are running the latest and greatest from Microsoft, click the Start button, navigate to System and scroll down to see “Windows Specifications” to check for “Version 21H1”.
Windows 10 May 2021 Update comes with a number of useful new improvements. It adds support for external cameras for its facial recognition Windows Hello system – so if you use a USB webcam for better video call quality, you can log into your computer in an instant. Elsewhere, Microsoft has upgraded its Windows Defender Application Guard. The latter is a smart feature that allows users to open suspicious files or applications in a completely isolated virtualized container. This increases security even if the app turns out to be a virus – it cannot access the important files, applications and more that are actually stored on your hard drive.
In particular, according to Microsoft, opening documents from suspicious emails should be noticeably faster in Windows Defender Application Guard.
Unfortunately, that’s about it.
Microsoft isn’t including much more in the May 2021 update. That’s because the fall update, codenamed Sun Valley within the company, is a real doozy. Microsoft is giving the entire operating system a coat of paint – the first visual overhaul since Windows 10 hit the market in 2015 – as well as a truckload of new features, including support for AirPods and Apple’s custom-designed AAC audio codec. That should provide a similarly easy Bluetooth pairing as AirPods owners experience with a Mac.
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