Windows 10 users are only a few weeks away from the first new feature-rich upgrade in 2021. Microsoft typically rolls out two blockbuster updates each year, with the first happening sometime in the spring and the second in the fall. This is not expected to change this year. The first upgrade, codenamed Windows 10 21H1, will be available soon.
The good news is that your computer is currently running Windows 10 and you can run the next update. Microsoft regularly changes the hardware requirements for its software. These changes are designed to ensure that the operating systems always run smoothly and without catastrophic problems.
Unfortunately for older PCs, changes to hardware requirements can mean that your aging laptop or desktop can no longer receive the latest features. Of course, you can still enjoy security updates and critical malware prevention patches. However, the most striking new designs and apps are likely to overtake you by the time you invest in a new PC.
“The Windows 10 version, version 21H1 does not bring any updates to the Windows Hardware Compatibility Program and follows the same guidelines as 20H2,” confirmed Microsoft. “The requirements for Windows 10, version 2004 still apply to Windows 10, version 21H1.”
It’s unclear whether the hardware requirements for both feature-rich updates for Windows 10 will stay the same this calendar year. That’s because there are likely to be useful new features, improvements to your favorite Microsoft apps, and stability improvements in both updates. However, the second of the two features is much more exciting.
Microsoft is expected to use the software update in the second half of the year to completely revamp the design of Windows 10, which hasn’t really been refreshed since its debut six years ago. Microsoft is apparently going to add more transparency over the design and completely redesign the system tray – so that the Start menu and app shortcuts are in the center, rather than the lower-left corner where they were traditionally found.
In addition, File Explorer is likely to be revitalized with a new look too. Across the operating system, Microsoft is said to have moved away from the sharp angle that Windows 10 has defined since launch, adding rounded corners and softer edges to each application window. The Action Center now offers additional functions, including a music player to control playback with just a few clicks and quick settings – as in the notification drop-down list on all Android smartphones. This is also where users can put their computers to sleep or restart (with all that has now been removed from the streamlined Start menu).
And it’s not just about looks, either. Microsoft is expected to release a new battery usage table in Settings, listing the apps that are using the most power, and offering tools to help you get a little more power from your device between charges. New gestures for tablet users allow you to minimize apps with a four-finger swipe to make desktop apps feel more appropriate for a touchscreen interface.
It is clear that some big changes are emerging later this year. If you have an old Windows 10 two-in-one, laptop, or desktop computer that’s already upset with the latest update, it can be difficult to keep up with the shiny new design and slew of new features. However, for now, anyone applying the late 2020 update can update to the latest features.