Skip to main content

Windows 11’s new update cadence finally makes sense

Alongside the announcement of its first major update to Windows 11 (known as the Windows 11 2022 Update), Microsoft is also dispelling some of the rumors about its update cadence for the operating system.

In a briefing held with the media, the heads of Windows 11 marketing team reaffirmed the commitment to a single, large update each fall, but with smaller “controlled feature rollouts” (CFRs) popping uo throughout the year as needed.

The Start Menu pulled up on the Surface Pro 8.

When asked, Microsoft representatives did not say how many CFRs would occur each year. Instead, the focus will be on making sure a highly requested feature didn’t have to wait until the fall to get into the hands of customers. The goal is to provide “additional points of innovation to bring the love to customers sooner,” according to Aaron Woodman, vice president of Windows Marketing over at Microsoft.

To prevent problems for IT administrators, though, the features from these CFRs will be turned off by default for commercial and education customers.

Woodman emphasized that Windows has always been on a yearly update cadence, and that Windows 11 will be no different moving forward.

However, there’s no doubt been some mixed messaging over the years about the pacing and content of Windows updates. For example, in 2015, Windows 10 was once referred to as the final version of Windows. Then in 2017, the company committed to two major feature update to Windows 10 each year — one in the spring and one in the fall. This biannual release schedule put the Windows developers in a crunch, though, eventually leading to the paring down of the size of the updates starting in 2019. It has since done away with the second yearly update entirely.

The return to a single feature-rich update each fall makes a lot of sense, but it’s the ability to squeeze in smaller updates throughout the year that should keep things moving. Microsoft calls this “continuous innovation” and a “phased, measured approach” to rolling out updates. On paper, it’s the best of both worlds.

Prior to this clarification, reports indicated that Microsoft would be returning to a new version of Windows every three years, which would mean the transition to Windows 12 would happen in 2024. While Microsoft’s comments haven’t ruled that out entirely, the company seems committed to a consistent, predictable schedule of updates that still allows the flexibility of new features to be dispersed throughout the year. Microsoft did not comment on plans for the next full version of Windows, presumably called Windows 12.

Microsoft did restate its commitment to servicing Windows 10 until October 2025, and to the current eligible requirements for PCs upgrading to Windows 11 from Windows 10.

While Microsoft claims Windows 11 is the “most loved” version of the operating system, Windows 10 remains its most popular by far.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Computing Editor at Digital Trends and manages all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, and…
ChatGPT is coming directly to Windows, but not how you think
Microsoft has given the go-ahead for a project that will integrate ChatGPT into its PowerToys Run utility. 

According to the description of a new project, Microsoft is allowing for ChatGPT integration directly into Windows through a PowerToys Run utility integration for both Windows 10 and 11.

The company recently gave the go-ahead for software engineer Simone Franco to spearhead a project called ChatGPT plug-in for Microsoft PowerToys Run, according to Tom's Hardware.

Read more
Windows 11 is ditching this almost 20-year-old classic feature
The new snipping tool in Windows 11.

People don't like change, especially when it comes to Windows. As if centering the taskbar in Windows 11 wasn't enough, Microsoft is now going to alter a Windows keyboard shortcut that's been around forever. We're talking about Print Screen, commonly written as PrtSc on keycaps, which currently takes a full-screen screenshot of the screen and saves it to your clipboard. Of course, it can also be used in combination with various keys for other screenshotting shortcuts.

But in recent years, Microsoft has been pushing its separate app, Snipping Tool, which was a modern replacement for Snip & Sketch. Compared to using Print Screen, though, Snipping Tool is a more effective and full-featured way of capturing, saving, and editing screenshots. There's no need to paste your screenshot into Paint just to save it. It can also record video of your screen.

Read more
Windows 11 to borrow one of the Mac’s biggest conveniences
windows 11 taskbar third party app pinning

The Windows 11 taskbar already shares a lot in common with the Mac dock, but a new development shows that Microsoft may be taking inspiration from another beloved feature: Force Quit.

The ability to Force Quit directly from the dock can come in handy when things freeze up, and according to the latest Windows 11 build in the Dev Channel (Build 23430), you'll be able right click on an application in your Taskbar and click End Task to kill it immediately.

Read more