Microsoft has released its first test build of Windows 10, built from a new branch of Windows under the code name Iron (Fe). Microsoft employees said they did this to practice their ability of which branch the test flights are built from. Does this mean that Microsoft will provide information on if / when a Windows 10 21H1 version will be available? Sadly no.
Windows 10 Test Build 20246 removes some of the features Microsoft has already tested on the Dev Channel, including an updated emoji selection, a redesigned touch keyboard, voice input, themed splash screens, and more. Why? The official statement reads, “Because our engineers work in development cycles internally, we can prioritize work in a particular branch and may need to move insiders between branches.” Officials said they plan to bring these features back to insiders “in the future.”
That language makes an already murky situation worse for future Windows 10 feature releases. As I reported back in July, there were some indications from my sources that Microsoft may be dispensing with a 21H1 feature update and will only do a single 21H2 feature update next year – along with an initial version of Windows 10X for devices with a screen. Windows Central’s Zac Bowden tweeted last night that there might be a 21H1 feature update, but it will be a very small one. This may or may not be related to why Microsoft is removing a number of features.
As I mentioned again yesterday, Windows 10 feature updates are codenamed the “semesters” during which some of their features are developed. Microsoft employees have said that these code names don’t match any particular version, but many of us use them anyway because they’re part of the store names. If there is a 21H1 feature update, it is unofficially referred to as “iron”. The 21H2 feature update is unofficially called “Cobalt”. Microsoft’s iron development period runs from June to December 2020; Cobalt runs from January 2021 to June 2021.
So what is still in today’s trial version – and not removed? Microsoft added automatic installation of the Linux distribution to the wsl.exe – install command to simplify the installation of the Windows subsystem for Linux. There are also a number of fixes and known issues listed in the new build blog post.
Microsoft also said that “starting soon,” the preview of the new calendar app that some Insiders have been using will be removed and reverted to its classic look. There’s no word on when or how Microsoft will revise the Calendar app after this preview period has expired.
Microsoft employees declined again this week to say whether there will be a Windows 10 21H1 feature update in the spring of next year. I * think * the silence could be interpreted as an indication that plans have not changed in the biannual update rate for Windows 10 features. However, if the second feature update is a major update and the first a minor update – reverse to the way Microsoft has introduced feature updates over the past two years – it seems like a good idea to say this to IT professionals sooner rather than later.
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