Microsoft is making a big shift with Windows, moving to a new plan to introduce a new incarnation of the desktop operating system every three years, with smaller, more regular feature updates in between.
The move to a new engineering schedule is rumored to have been launched by Zac Bowden of Windows Central (opens in new tab)which is well connected at Microsoft and has offered reliable leaks in the past.
As mentioned, the theory of what’s happening in the future is that Windows will have a three-year release cycle, and since Windows 11 came out in 2021, that will mean a whole new Windows – possibly Windows 12, maybe something else entirely – arriving in 2024 (Windows 24? Windows XXIV? WindowsOS, ahem?). And then another version will come out in 2027 and then rinse and repeat (unless Microsoft changes its mind, which is a fair bet, at some point, if recent form is any indication).
Of course, what Microsoft doesn’t want is a return to the not-so-good old days of having to wait eons for new features to arrive with a new incarnation of Windows, so the current version will be continually updated with new functionality over the course of a given year. .
So instead of one big annual feature update, Microsoft will issue smaller feature updates every few months, up to four a year, says Bowden.
This situation will come into play starting next year, so we’ll still have the Windows 11 22H2 update (aka Sun Valley 2) later this year, of course, but the Sun Valley 3 has apparently been dropped. In 2023, we’ll be moving on to the more compact feature updates released quarterly (or so), and they’ll be called ‘Moments’, or at least that’s the working title, it seems.
Analysis: A logical extension of what is already happening?
Let’s turn the clock back a minute. As you may remember, the original plan with Windows 10 was that it would be the last version of Windows. ever (not that we believed it), and it would be continually updated on an ongoing basis, twice a year. That original concept obviously changed with the release of Windows 11 and major feature updates were reduced to a once-a-year level.
However, with these major feature updates slowing their cadence, Microsoft has already introduced ‘experience packs’, which may sound like a plan to monetize an MMORPG, but are actually Microsoft’s scheme to bring updates more regularly. . Feature experience packs, for example, can be deployed to upgrade legacy core apps to Windows away from a major feature upgrade.
So really, what we’re hearing here is what we already have – with Windows 11 following Windows 10, we could imagine that another version would likely come in the future. And Moments are basically enhanced experience packs and a way to bring in changes that improve the current interface without radically altering it, which are necessary to facilitate more regular desktop OS tuning. What if Microsoft is moving to a three-year plan for new versions of Windows – which is a big if. Whereas these brand new versions of Windows will be where the bulk changes to the UI or user experience will be rolled out.
Another way of looking at it is that it makes sense in terms of it being a logical extension of the direction Microsoft has already taken. Windows 8 and Windows 10 with three years between them.
Still, we should consider this just a rumor for now, even if a lot of it makes sense to us, and is from a more reliable source than most Microsoft-related speculation. And besides, even if it’s Microsoft’s current plan, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way – the company hasn’t been shy about cutting back and changing the way the OS is produced in recent times, of course.