As rumors of the release of “Windows 12” for next year grow, Microsoft confirmed and named a new update to Windows 11 23H2 scheduled for Q4 2023.
Microsoft hasn’t revealed what’s in it yet, but the company has plenty of unreleased features in the beta testing pipeline that could be included. One of the big new items is Windows Copilot, which takes the GPT generative AI technology used in Bing and Microsoft (Office) 365 and gives users a personal assistant for the entire operating system, and is available to try now.
The new Windows 11 23H2 update will work by downloading to systems running the current version, 22H2, early, but it will remain dormant until Microsoft is ready to release it. A small enablement package, known as an eKB, will then function as a master switch that simply enables the new features and publishes the new OS version number.
Microsoft has taken the same stealthy upgrade approach before with Windows 10, since upgrading from version 1903 to 1909 nearly four years ago. The main benefit of the enablement package approach is that both the outgoing and incoming versions have matching code bases. This means that IT departments running entire organizations and people with mission-critical software or drivers should have fewer worries about any failures after the upgrade.
IT departments, in particular, can continue business as usual and roll out the current Windows 11 22H2 along with monthly updates. Then, later this year, system administrators can simply activate 23H2 using Windows Server, Update for Business, or Autopatch and go home to sleep.
In addition to the 23H2 release, Microsoft is also announcing a new Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release of Windows 11 for the “second half of 2024.” Windows LTSC versions are good for computers with special use cases, such as running a facility’s HVAC system, and allow them to continue to receive security patches, but not any new features.
Microsoft reportedly went back to a three-year operating system release schedule after treating Windows 10 as a service with the intention of it being the “latest version” of the operating system. That change would mean a new Windows is coming in 2024, so enjoy what could be Windows 11’s last major feature update, and pray it gets those 3D shaded emoji.