Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed what’s in it, but the company does have many unreleased features in the beta testing pipeline that could be included. One of the big new items is Windows Copilot, which takes the GPT generative AI tech being used in Bing and Microsoft (Office) 365 and gives users an OS-wide personal assistant — and is available to test now.
Another feature to look out for is the release of the next File Explorer: it includes tabs, favorites, and a modernized look. Meanwhile, gamers may enjoy native RGB lighting settings coming to Windows 11 to make clunky hardware-specific software unnecessary. Other features in the pipeline include built-in RAR and 7-zip compressed file support and dark mode for Paint.
The new Windows 11 23H2 upgrade will work by downloading to systems running the current version, 22H2, ahead of time but will remain dormant until Microsoft is ready for release. Then a small enablement package, known as an eKB, will function like a master switch that simply enables the new features and publishes the new OS version number.
Microsoft has taken the same stealthy upgrade approach before with Windows 10, going as far back as upgrading from version 1903 to 1909 — almost four years ago. The main benefit of the enablement package approach is that both the outgoing and incoming versions have matching code bases. This means IT departments handling whole organizations and individuals with mission-critical software or drivers should have less worry about anything breaking after the upgrade.
IT departments, in particular, can continue business as usual and roll out the current Windows 11 22H2 along with monthly updates. Then later this year, system admins can just switch on 23H2 using Windows Server, Update for Business, or Autopatch and go home to sleep easy.
In addition to the 23H2 release, Microsoft is also announcing a new Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) version of Windows 11 for the “second half of 2024.” Windows LTSC versions are good for computers with special use cases, like running a facility’s HVAC system and enable them to keep getting security patches but not any of the new feature bloat.
Microsoft reportedly moved back to a three-year operating system release schedule after treating Windows 10 as a service with the intent of it being the “last version” of the OS. That change would mean a new Windows is coming in 2024, so do savor what could be the last significant Windows 11 feature update — and pray it has those 3D-shaded emoji.