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Windows 10 May 2021 update arrives with new features — How to download it

HP Envy x360 13
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The latest major Windows 10 update is rolling out to devices today, bringing with it additions designed to fix annoyances caused by remote work. The May 2021 update isn't the most significant in recent years but important changes are being made to improve security and how you use your laptop to work from home. 

For most consumers, the most notable change is how Windows 10 PCs handle Windows Hello biometric login. After the update, your laptop will default to using a Windows Hello-supported external camera when one is connected instead of the built-in webcam.

Also of interest is how Microsoft plans to push out the update. It promises a "fast update experience" with a "measured rollout approach" that starts by ramping up availability over the coming weeks to ensure compatibility across all systems. That means you might not get the update on day one, but when you do, you shouldn't experience any issues. This is a significant procedure as Microsoft has faced harsh criticism after several botched update rollouts in the last few years. 

As part of the update, Microsoft killed off Windows 10X, revealing that features built for the proposed OS would instead be woven into Windows 10. What this means for Microsoft's efforts to take on Chrome OS and Chromebooks is unknown; it also puts a cloud over the Surface Neo, Microsoft's foldable PC.

Windows 10 May 2021 update: Features

Returning to the Windows 10 May update, Microsoft revealed in February that three major features would headline the newest version. Along with the external webcam tweak, security and remote work are being addressed. 

  • Windows Hello multicamera support to set the default as the external camera when both external and internal Windows Hello cameras are present.
  • Windows Defender Application Guard performance improvements including optimizing document opening scenario times.
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating performance improvement to support remote work scenarios.

How to get Windows 10 May 2021 update

We weren't going to give you the juicy details without telling you how to download the update yourself. Yes, Microsoft lets you manually install the May 2021 update before it officially reaches your system. Keep in mind, manual installation means bypassing any measures Microsoft has in place to ensure the update arrives only when bugs have been worked out. 

With that said, you can download the May 2021 Update by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update. From there, select Check for updates. If the update appears, select Download and install. You will need to restart your device once the update finishes installing. 

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.