Windows 10 could see a major shift in its feature update schedule

Windows 10 X desktop

According to sources, Microsoft is considering options to move
to a single feature update per year for Windows 10 to speed up
the development of Windows 10X.

Microsoft has already
finished and released Windows 10 version 2004, the year’s
first feature upgrade. Next is
Windows 10 version 20H2, which is said to be a smaller
update in size, but it will come with some nifty improvements,
including the new Start Menu and other tweaks.

Last year, Microsoft switched to a “major-minor” cadence for
Windows 10 and the fall update was converted into a service
pack-like release to focus on bug fixes and performance
improvements.

Microsoft has confirmed that it will repeat last year’s
major-minor cadence for Windows 10’s feature upgrades in 2020.

Currently, Windows 10 feature updates roll out in the spring
and in the fall. The first feature of the year is released
between April and May, while the second update comes out
between October and November.

Microsoft’s rumoured plan to switch to a single feature update
per year for Windows 10 will free up engineers to work on
Windows 10X, a
web-first lightweight OS for low-cost hardware.

Windows 10X desktop

This shift in the feature update schedule should also allow
Microsoft to prepare the new operating system for the
dual-screen hardware in 2022.

One theory is that Windows 10 may not get a feature update for
the first half of 2021. As a result, the new Start Menu and a
few other features which were scheduled for Windows 10 21H1
have been migrated into this year’s fall update.

With Build 19042.421 for Windows 10 version 20H2, Microsoft has
already introduced a number of new UX improvements, including

Edge integration in Alt-Tab, a new Start menu, improvements
to the taskbar, and several bug fixes.

Start Menu live tiles

All these improvements also appear to suggest that Microsoft is
adding some of the features from Windows 10 21H1 update because
the OS may not get an update for the first half of 2021.

As part of the new schedule, Microsoft will launch Windows 10X
in the spring of 2021 and the 2021 fall update becomes a major
feature update for Windows 10.

Dropping major-minor upgrade cadence for one single release a
year would be a big change and it could also make Windows 10
less buggy. At the moment, this report is based on an anonymous
tip and it should be taken with a grain of salt as Microsoft’s
schedule could change
again in the future.

If Microsoft is sticking to the rumoured roadmap, Microsoft’s
new update schedule could look something like this:

  • Windows 10 version 20H2 with new Start Menu and other
    tweaks in October/November 2020.
  • Windows 10X for new Chromebook-like devices in Spring 2021.
    Windows 10X will not launch as an update for existing or
    traditional hardware.
  • Windows 10 version 21H1/21H2 in October/November 2021.

The rumoured single update schedule makes sense for users in
the long term and it could finally make feature updates less
buggy.

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