Microsoft Will Resume Releasing New Windows Versions Every Three Years

Windows Central claims that Microsoft is planning yet another significant shift in how it handles Windows updates. Instead of focusing on a single version of Windows for a long period of time like they did with Windows 10, Microsoft plans to return to releasing a new major version of Windows about once every three years, which would put the release of a hypothetical “Windows 12” on track for sometime in the fall of 2024.

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Microsoft Will Continue to Release New Windows

From the outside, things appear to be returning to how they were before Windows 10. Windows Vista was released in 2006 and was followed by Windows 7 in 2009, Windows 8 in 2012, and Windows 10 in 2015.

The report claims, however, that Microsoft has plans to steadily improve the current Windows release, with the release of new features (known internally as “Moments”) scheduled about once per quarter. Windows 11 has been evolving steadily throughout the year, giving us a taste of what’s to come in the forthcoming Windows 11 22H2 update.

Microsoft promised annual major “feature update releases” for both Windows 11 and Windows 10 with the launch of Windows 11 in October 2021. Windows 10 introduced this shift by introducing two major updates per year. However, Windows Central claims that the 2023 feature update for Windows 11 has been “scrapped,” indicating that the annual major update may be on its way out.

Microsoft Resume Releasing New Windows Versions Every Three Years
Microsoft Resume Releasing New Windows Versions Every Three Years

The company is not yet prepared to announce its plans to the general public. A Microsoft representative told us that the company “does not comment on rumors or speculation” when we asked for comment.

This leads to many significant queries remaining unanswered. Will the Windows 11 update life cycle still be based on a “23H2” release if this shift occurs? Will Windows 12 require payment, as with previous releases, or will it be provided at no cost to current Windows users, as with Windows 10 and Windows 11? When it comes to Windows, which features will be carried over between versions? Exactly what functions does “Moments” offer, and which ones are being saved for the next major update?

It’s possible that a return to more distinct Windows releases would be beneficial. This would allow for a more substantial user interface or under-the-hood improvements and attract more users and media attention. A change in system requirements could also be made, making it so that Windows 12 requires more powerful hardware than Windows 11 (though this would be a drawback for users, as Windows 11 already has stringent requirements).

On the other hand, the current plan sounds like the worst of both worlds for third-party developers and IT administrators: a constantly shifting current version of Windows that is always being tweaked and a more-fragmented install base with large groups of users running one of three or four different Windows versions with different user interfaces and feature sets.

It’s possible that IT managers will revert to old habits and refuse to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of Windows, instead opting to stick with the “good” known-quantity versions (such as XP or 7), in which case they will miss out on important new features and security upgrades.

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