Two changes are reportedly underway: a three-year cycle for major Windows releases and more frequent feature releases.
According to a new report, the pace at which Microsoft releases new Windows versions may slow, but the pace at which Microsoft releases new Windows features may increase. In other words, you could expect Windows 12 in 2024.
Microsoft may be going back to a three-year release cycle for major versions of Windows, such as Windows 11. But instead of releasing groups of features for the current version of Windows in both the fall and spring (normally referred to as, say, “22H2” or as the “Windows 11 May Update”), Microsoft can increase the pace to as many as four times a year.
That would be a change on a few levels. First, that would make Windows 11 less of an anomaly and merely a return to a more normal release schedule. When a Microsoft employee made a confusing statement claiming that “Windows 10 would be the last Windows,” it was assumed that Windows 11 was a one-time release. But apparently it wasn’t. Windows 10 should be retired in 2025.
However, if the Windows Central report is true, it places the next major release of Windows in 2024, three years after Microsoft released Windows 11 in 2021. However, Microsoft has not yet confirmed any of these details.
The other interesting consequence for consumers is that Windows feature updates are becoming more frequent. According to Windows Central, Microsoft plans to roll them out in what it calls “Moments,” or bundles of features delivered at certain times of the year. (So far, those release dates don’t seem to have been set.) Normally, Microsoft releases feature updates for Windows 10 and 11 twice a year, in the spring and fall.
This is not exactly new. Microsoft said in February that it was exploring new ways to roll out new features for Windows according to its own arbitrary schedule. Microsoft said it would do this through the use of “experience packs,” pieces of code that would actually just appear in Windows Update. These new features just appear. Microsoft has also put several Windows applications on their own release schedule, refreshing them with the Windows 11 look and feel or adding new functionality.
For consumers, the new changes can be a bit unsettling, as the ground shifts beneath them and the operating system they have become accustomed to. On the other hand, those who like and appreciate new features and things to play with will be thrilled. However, companies tend to shy away from unexpected updates that may introduce new bugs, so it is likely that Windows 11 business customers will have the option to opt out.
However, the conclusion seems pretty clear: if the report is true, Windows 12 is only two short years away.