Since the initial launch of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft has settled into a regular schedule for updating its operating system. Alongside monthly security patches, the company rolls out more significant 'feature' updates twice a year. That's where you'll usually find the most exciting new additions to the operating system. 

The 21H1 update will be minor by Microsoft's standards, although there are set to be some useful tweaks to what has become a very familiar experience. The company will now let you set a secondary camera as the default for its Windows Hello face unlock, with the current limitations meaning you have to use the default front-facing lens. There's also set to be performance improvements in administrator software and added functionality for remote working scenarios, but Microsoft didn't go into detail on what that would involve.

With the 21H1 update not expected to arrive until June, you could be forgiven for thinking that you'll need to wait until then to get your hands on the new feature. However, Microsoft has already released an early build of the update to members of the Windows Insider Program, and it's available for anyone to join.

How to get the Windows 10 21H1 update now

In an official blog post, Microsoft has confirmed that an early build of the 21H1 update has been released to the Beta channel of the Windows Insider Program. To gain access, you'll just need to sign up to become a member. Here's how it's done:

  1. Head to Settings > Update & Security and make sure all pending updates are complete under the 'Windows Update' section. Some of these may require your device to restart
  2. Within the same Update & Security section, choose 'Windows Insider Program' (or Programme in the UK) from the left pane
  3. Choose 'Get Started' and then 'Register' from the window that appears
    Windows 10 21H1 update early build
  4. Click 'Sign Up' from the next screen and then 'Submit' to confirm you accept the terms and conditions
  5. After a few seconds, click 'Link an account' once the option appears
    Windows 10 21H1 update early build
  6. Sign in with the most relevant Microsoft email address and password
  7. About 30 seconds later, you'll be given three options of 'Insider settings'. The Beta Channel is marked as recommended, and that's the one you'll need to gain access to the 21H1 update
    Windows 10 21H1 update early build
  8. Click confirm from the next two screens, and you'll be prompted to restart your device
  9. Once you're back up and running, head back into Settings > Update & Security. You should now see 'Feature update to Windows 10, version 21H1' available to download
  10. Follow the usual installation process, and you'll now be running the 21H1 update

It's worth emphasising that this is an early build, so there are likely to be frequent bugs. Microsoft will regularly patch any issues it becomes aware of, but we wouldn't recommend installing it on your main device.

To learn more about what to expect in the final version, check out our separate guide to the Windows 10 21H1 update