Discover the odd reasoning behind Microsoft's Windows 11 23H2 Update due later this year

 Windows Update.
Windows Update.

What you need to know

  • Windows 11's next version update will launch this fall.

  • The update has confused users as most of Microsoft's new features will roll out first on 22H2.

  • The company has now explained the purpose of the 23H2 release.

After a rocky Windows and Surface event last week, Microsoft has finally detailed the purpose behind its upcoming Windows 11 version 23H2 update, which the company says will roll out later this fall. The update, which has been in testing with Insiders for many months, was initially set to include many new AI features and quality-of-life improvements.

But after the event last week, Microsoft revealed that most of the 23H2 features would ship on top of 22H2 instead as part of another "Moment" update. The company never explained why, but my sources say it's because Moment updates are rolled into Patch Tuesday, meaning they aren't optional.

Windows 11 Sept. 26 Update

Windows 11 new File Explorer
Windows 11 new File Explorer

Everything new in this update
How to get the September update
Will you get the update on Sept 26?
How to get the update now
Review: Windows 11 Sept Update
What's new with the Start menu
What's new with the Settings app
What's new with Taskbar
How to get started with Dev Home app

The annual XXH2 release of Windows is an optional feature update, and users can refuse it for as long as the current version of Windows they're running is supported. Had Microsoft kept all the new features exclusive to 23H2, users could have avoided them for much longer. Microsoft doesn't want this, so it's rolling out most of the 23H2 features in a Moment update for 22H2, starting today.

So, what is the purpose of the 23H2 release? As I had speculated, Microsoft says the 23H2 update will serve as a support cycle clock reset for Windows 11 Home, Pro, and Enterprise. 23H2 will be supported for 24 months on Home/Pro and 36 months on Enterprise.

The 23H2 update will also be a cumulative update for all the Windows 11-moment updates shipped in the past year. Enterprises have been able to disable most moment update features, but the 23H2 release will have them all enabled by default out of the box. 23H2 will also be updated media for OEMs to preload onto new hardware leading into 2024.

So, even with all the big new features rolling out on 22H2 first, 23H2 still has a purpose, primarily for enterprises and OEMs. It's a jumping-on-point and a cumulative update with all the features added to Windows 11 over the last 12 months.

The new Windows 11 feature update rolling out today is Microsoft's first AI-centric one for Windows 11. It introduces the new Microsoft Copilot, AI features in Paint, Snipping Tool, and Photos, and AI-powered file recommendations in the Start menu and File Explorer.