When Microsoft first released Windows 11 last October, it was missing some key functionality. Several Windows 10 features had been dropped with little explanation, while many app redesigns and Android app support weren’t yet available.
Microsoft has put that right in the months since – the version available today is a big step forward. Still, most of the actual new features have been reserved for the 22H2 update, and it’s logical to think that it’ll be a similar story in 2023. But a recent report suggests things could be very different – here’s everything you need to know about Windows 11 updates in 2023.
When will Windows 11’s 23H2 update be released?
With the introduction of Windows 11, Microsoft officially shifted to annual feature updates. The 22H2 update is just around the corner, so you could be forgiven for thinking that we’ll get a 23H2 update too.
That might still be the case, but a recent Windows Central article suggest that Microsoft will do away with feature updates entirely. Author Zac Bowden says they’ll be replaced with “Moments” – new feature-laden updates that are released every few months. If this turns out to be true, features initially rumoured for the 23H2 update would be released gradually throughout 2023.
But there’s still a chance Microsoft will stick to its annual feature update cycle. If so, a release in September or October of 2023 is most likely, but that’s pure speculation at this stage.
Remember, most devices aren’t able to download these bigger updates on release day. Microsoft throttles up availability in order to manage the demand on its servers, so you may be waiting weeks or even months.
For earlier access, you can always join the Windows Insider Program and try out new functionality before it’s released to the public. However, do note that not all features in the Dev Channel make their way into final versions. The Beta Channel offers a good balance for most people, but it’s still not recommended on your main devices.
Will all existing Windows 11 devices be compatible with version 23H2?
Perhaps not all, but the vast majority. Microsoft introduced sweeping new hardware requirements for Windows 11 in the name of security, leaving plenty of older devices unable to upgrade.
There are no indications that’ll happen again anytime soon, unless Microsoft surprises us with the release of
Windows 12 much sooner than expected.
A more likely scenario is that a handful of older devices won’t be able to update, but they should still receive security updates for quite a while.
What new features will be available in the 23H2 update?
The 22H2 update isn’t even official yet, so it’s hard to predict what will be added to Windows 11 a year later. Still, we already have some idea of what to expect.
As Windows Latest reported, a recent Microsoft webcast includes a PowerPoint file named ‘SV3 Refined Investments Next Steps’. Many people have taken this to mean Sun Valley 3, the expected internal codename for version 23H2.
Considering the original Windows 11 release was known simply as ‘Sun Valley’, this feels like a logical conclusion. However, it’s anyone’s guess what ‘refined investments’ actually means. Perhaps it’s more subtle tweaks rather than any big overhaul, but that was always likely.
Indeed, a subsequent
Windows Latest article from June 2022 suggests Microsoft has “confirmed” that the 2023 feature update will be SV3 (Sun Valley 3). This is based on recent updates to the Dev channel of the Windows Insider Program, which reference both ‘SV3’ and ‘copper’, another expected internal codename. Evidence of the 22H2 update has been available within early builds for a while, so it makes sense for this to be the 2023 equivalent.
However, in an
April 2022 video, Windows Central’s Zac Bowden and Daniel Rubino discuss what the 23H2 update could entail. Despite the big caveat that this could all change, there are some useful insights worth knowing about – both are reliable journalists with a strong track record for Windows news.
Despite Windows 10’s dedicated tablet mode being dropped for Windows 11, Microsoft is continuing to make the OS more suited to touch input. Bowden anticipates there’ll be more to come, with the potential for a separate tablet user interface (UI) to be reintroduced in version 23H2.
Windows Latest‘s Mayank Parmar agrees, suggesting a tablet-friendly taskbar could arrive in 2023.
Elsewhere, Bowden believes that the update will further improve how Windows communicates with Android. Microsoft recently
rebranded the Your Phone companion app as ‘Phone Link’, redesigning it in the process. With the
Surface Duo 3 also likely in 2023, this makes a lot of sense.
Bowden also believes version 23H2 might be when we’ll finally see a system-wide dark mode. This was originally intended for the first release of Windows 11 in 2021, but there’s no suggestion it’ll arrive this year either.
Later in the video, Rubino suggests 2023 will be a big year for foldables running Windows 11. That might not include a portrait Surface Duo, but Microsoft will be keen to optimise the operating system for a variety of different form factors.
A separate Windows Latest article discusses another potential 23H2 feature. As Microsoft subtly revealed at its April 2022 event, the option for app folders on the Windows 11 desktop looks to be on the way. With no rumours suggesting it’ll arrive in the 22H2 update, this could be something we’ll have to wait until 2023 for.
Of course, a more recent Windows Central article suggests these features will be delivered throughout 2023 rather than all at once in the 2023 update. But no other specific features were revealed at the same time.
We’ll update this article once more is revealed about the future of Windows 11 updates, including whether we’ll actually see a 23H2 update. Looking further ahead, it seems we could be getting Windows 12 as soon as 2024.