With a Windows 10 21H1 leak, we now have an idea of what to expect in the newest Windows 10 feature update. Unlike most of the feature updates from 2020 the next update is being deemed as a minor update. Which is a more than welcome surprise after 2020's Windows Update fiasco.
Although we will have to wait for Microsoft's official acknowledgement before we get too carried away. The January 2021 KB4598291 cumulative update leak has been downloaded and installed to select testers and here's what we can expect in the upcoming months if all goes as planned during testing...
The biggest thing about this update will be a brand new feature to the Windows 10 taskbar. Microsoft is testing out an update to Windows 10 with a select group of testers, wherein the taskbar will have an option named 'News and Interests' that will show news stories, sports scores, and weather information. The news, weather and other information shown can, of course, be personalized.
This feature is part of the Windows Shell Experience and hence can't be disabled or uninstalled manually. But the news feed will be in the taskbar as an option, which means users, if they want, can hide it with a right-click on the icon.
Microsoft will use its search engine Bing's AI and ML expertise to offer stories relevant to users' interests. The newsfeed in the Windows 10 taskbar will present the latest headlines, sports, and more from over 4,500 global news brands, which include the BBC, CNN, NYT. Basically, it will show news articles from publishers accepted in Microsoft's Bing News Pub Hub service.
The news feed requires Chromium-based Microsoft Edge and it’s currently in the early stage of development, so it’s unclear if it will be included in the next version of Windows 10.
"Through news and interests, there is quick access to the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. Through the Microsoft Edge browser, there are built-in controls to limit tracking from advertisers and third parties. And if news and interests doesn't appeal to you, you can easily turn it off by right-clicking on the taskbar," Microsoft added.
This seemingly confirms that the 21H1 update, meaning the update due to land in the first half of 2021, will be triggered by an enablement switch, just like the previous October 2020 Update. In other words, the changes in the update – which will only be minor ones – are preloaded to the PC, and when the time comes for the update to go live, it’s just a simple matter of flicking that enablement switch. There’s no big download or fuss, the update is basically just straight there.It’s unusual – in fact, unprecedented – for Microsoft to make back-to-back updates minor ones like this. Previously, we have seen a pattern of a major feature update, followed by a minor one, but it seems that’s changing this year; theoretically because the huge alterations happening to Windows 10 (including a major interface revamp) won’t be ready until later in 2021.
As the most recent update was just a minor one, folks upgrading from the May 2020 Update before that will have a lightweight enablement update process, as well. But if you’re running a version of Windows 10 prior to 2020, the 21H1 update will require a full download process to upgrade (as the groundwork won’t be in place with those versions). The appearance of KB4598291 and the enablement switch in testing now raises the possibility that we could see the 21H1 update rolling out in the near future – maybe in April, or even in March potentially, so theoretically in not much more than a month.