Microsoft on Tuesday made subtle but significant changes to its Windows business aimed at minimizing frustration among users when updating the operating system.
Following the release of Windows 11, Microsoft's latest operating system, last month, the company said it would only release an update to Windows 10 once a year, rather than forcing consumers to update twice a year as it currently does. The annual schedule for Windows 11 is similar.
Windows remains critical to Microsoft's business, contributing about 13% of revenue. In 2020, Windows had nearly 83 percent of the market by shipments, followed by Google's Chrome OS at 10 percent and Apple's Mac OS at 7 percent, according to research firm Gartner.
By halving the number of updates, Microsoft is getting in line with industry standards. Apple releases a new version of the macOS every year, while Apple's iOS is updated only once a year, as is Google's Android operating system. However, Google says it releases full Chrome OS updates about every four weeks.
Microsoft released Windows 10 in 2015 and updates it twice a year, prompting complaints from some customers who didn't like the extra configuration work. In 2019, Microsoft began rolling out a major update each year with new features and a smaller update focusing on performance and reliability.
In Windows 11, Microsoft scrapped the twice-yearly practice entirely, based on customer feedback. The company will continue to support Windows 10 until October 2025, for those not ready to upgrade.
On Tuesday, Microsoft began releasing Windows 10's November 2021 update, also known as Windows 10, version 21H2.
"We continue to listen to customer feedback to adapt Windows to meet your needs as part of our ongoing support for Windows 10, November 2021, the Scope Update focuses on productivity, administration, and security," John Cable, vice president of Windows Services and Delivery Program management, wrote in a blog post.
The update includes stronger security measures to prevent attacks while using a Wi-Fi network. The upgraded Universal Print feature in Windows 10 Enterprise will be able to handle printing tasks of up to 1 gigabyte. Users can now use Azure Virtual Desktop services to provide applications for cloud-based Windows 10.
Users can check whether updates are available by opening the Settings app, navigating to Updates and Security, selecting Windows Update, and clicking the Check Updates button. If your computer is ready for the update, a download and Install button appears.
Windows 11 was also released faster than Microsoft had expected. Cable added in the post that the company is "now making the Windows 11 upgrade more widely available to eligible Windows 10 devices."
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