Microsoft begins rolling out Windows 11 2022 Update (also known as Windows 11 version 22H2) to mainstream users in over 190 countries today, September 20. Windows 11 22H2 is Microsoft’s first annual feature update for the first version of Windows 11, which shipped last year. The support clock starts ticking today, with Windows 11 22H2, Enterprise and Education edition customers getting 36 months of support for this release and Home and Pro users getting 24 months.
As Microsoft has been doing for a few years, this Windows update is available through a phased approach. “Researchers” who want to install it manually using Windows Update will get it first, and machines most likely to have no compatibility issues will get the update next.
Here’s what else you might want and need to know about Windows 11 22H2, along with some info on what to expect next on the Windows Update front:
What is the build number for 22H2? The RTM build number is 22621. It could be 22621.521 (based on a user who says he pre-installed it on a new Dell PC). Or maybe it is 22621.382? I asked Microsoft, and a spokesperson only said, “The final build number is subject to change as the team works to finalize the global rollout starting September 20. For this reason , we are not sharing the final build number at this time.”
Who can get Windows 11 22H2 Update? Microsoft officials say 22H2 will continue to be a free update available to Windows 10 and Windows 11 users with PCs that meet the stated minimum requirements.
When will Windows 11 22H2 be available through Windows Update, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Volume Licensing Service Center, and MSDN? Microsoft isn’t providing specific dates today, but if this rollout is anything like previous Windows updates, it could happen very soon, maybe even today for at least some of these servicing mechanisms.
Speaking of Windows 10, where is Windows 10 22H2 and what will be in it? Even though the majority of Windows users use Windows 10, not 11, Microsoft officials talk very little about Windows 10 22H2. Although an annual Windows 10 22H2 feature update is scheduled for October 2022, Microsoft officials continue to refuse to release a feature list for it. It is expected to ship via an activation package, which means it will be a quick little update for those running the latest versions of Windows 10. Microsoft officials said Windows 10 will continue to receive security updates until October 14, 2025, so it’s safe to stay on Windows 10 until then.
What has changed in terms of system requirements for Windows 11 since the 22H2 update? In short, very little. Microsoft hasn’t lowered the CPU/TPU bar for eligible machines since last year. A new issue to be aware of: Microsoft now requires not only Windows 11 Home users, but also Windows 11 Pro users to be connected to the internet and sign in through a Microsoft account in order to install this 22H2 update. Microsoft has not closed the existing loophole allowing those whose PCs do not meet the CPU/TPU bar to install Windows 11 on these devices, on the understanding that they are not officially “supported” by Microsoft.
Will Windows 11 22H2 be available as an activation package, meaning it will be a quick little update for those running Windows 11? Surprisingly, at least for me given the relatively small number of new features, that’s not the case. The activation package approach, which Microsoft has used for its latest Windows 10 feature updates, Windows 11 22H2 will instead be a full install. I asked Microsoft why it wasn’t an activation package, but got a no comment. Some of my contacts think it might be related to changes in the taskbar. Others think it may be related to Microsoft’s decision to constantly update Windows 11 outside of the annual feature release.
Even though officials said Microsoft had done some work to reduce the download size and time requirements for its annual and monthly feature updates, they told the company’s own employees to expect that. that the 22H2 update takes 90 minutes to download and install and another 20 minutes. to complete the installation.
What’s in Windows 11 22H2? At the top level, Windows 11 22H2 includes a few new security features; more productivity-focused features; and more management capabilities for business users. It has new Snap layouts, new Focus features; better voice control capabilities and updates to the new Windows Store. Additionally, the Amazon Appstore Preview, which makes Android apps available on Windows 11, is expanding to more international markets and now includes 20,000 Android apps and games. For more information on security features, including Smart App Control and Defender Smart Screen updates, see ZDNET’s Liam Tung’s post here.
What about tabbed file explorer? Wasn’t this supposed to be in Windows 11 22H2? It looked like Tabbbed File Explorer would be part of Windows 11 22H2, but it apparently missed the internal deadline for inclusion. Microsoft officials say they will make Tabbed File Explorer available through an additional, separate feature update – first in October 2022 as a preview as part of non-security update pre-releases , then in November 2022 as part of the Patch Tuesday security update.
Are there any other features coming as part of this October/November feature refresh? Yes, in addition to Tabbed File Explorer, an update to the Photos app; Suggested actions to copy phone numbers, future dates, etc. ; taskbar overflow functionality; and Share to more devices via Nearby Share will also be delivered to Windows 11 22H2 users as separate updates. Microsoft officials said in February 2022 that they plan to make features available outside of the one-time annual feature update through security updates and through the Microsoft Store. Officials call these feature updates delivered outside of the annual feature update “continuous innovation.”
What if I don’t want these additional feature updates delivered whenever Microsoft decides it’s time to push them out to users? If you’re a Windows 11 Enterprise or Education customer with organization-managed devices — or a domain-joined Windows Pro user — you’re in luck. These interim feature updates will ship by default for those running Enterprise and Education. Administrators will be able to create a Group Policy/Mobile Device Management that allows users to enable these features as a set (not individually). Microsoft officials said they would release documentation for these features and post their arrival dates in advance. At the time of the next annual feature update, these new features will be automatically enabled.
OKAY. So, after the rollout of Windows 11 22H2, Microsoft will deliver an indefinite number of these intermediate feature updates. What happens after that? Officials say the plan is to continue this approach: deliver a single annual Windows 11 feature update in the second half/fall of each year for the foreseeable future, as well as roll out these interim feature updates every when they are deemed ready.
What about Windows 12? Is it coming in 2024 as rumored? Microsoft officials said at a press briefing last week that the company’s plan is to keep updating Windows 11 every year and there’s no such thing as a major release. every three years planned for the moment. Aaron Woodman, VP of Windows Marketing, told us, “I haven’t heard anyone internally say we’re on a three-year cadence. Our intention is to continue with annual Windows 11 updates.”
My two cents: I think Microsoft could well move to a cadence every three years for major updates with the next scheduled for 2024, like Windows Central reported for the first time. But the plan may not be set in stone yet, giving Woodman plenty of wiggle room in his response. As to whether something called “Windows 12” is coming in 2024, I think it’s just a branding issue and depends on what Apple is doing at the time as much as anything else.