When Microsoft first released Windows 11 last October, it was missing some key functionality. Several Windows 10 features had been dropped with little explanation, while many app redesigned and Android app support weren’t yet available.
Despite committing to just one major update per year, Microsoft has been making refinements and tweaks ever since. The version available today is a vast improvement compared to the one available at launch.
But it’s clear that most new features will be delivered in the second half of each year. We already have a good understanding of the 22H2, but things are more uncertain after that.
That hasn’t stopped the speculation though, and there are some key rumours worth addressing here. Without further ado, here’s everything we know about a potential 23H2 update for Windows 11 next year.
When will Windows 11’s 23H2 update be released?
Assuming Microsoft continues with annual feature updates, it’s almost certain to arrive in 2023. A more specific release window is difficult to predict, but it’ll probably be sometime in the second half of the year.
The 22H2 update is rumoured to arrive as soon as July. Microsoft may decide to release 23H2 exactly 12 months later, but that’s pure speculation at this early stage.
Remember, most devices won’t be able to download the update on release day. Microsoft throttles up availability in order to manage the demand on its servers, so you may be waiting weeks or even months.
For earlier access, you can always join the Windows Insider Program and try out new functionality before it’s released to the public. However, do note that not all features in the Dev Channel make their way into final versions. The Beta Channel offers a good balance for most people, but it’s still not recommended on your main devices.
Will all existing Windows 11 devices be compatible with version 23H2?
Perhaps not all, but the vast majority. Microsoft introduced sweeping new hardware requirements for Windows 11 in the name of security, leaving plenty of older devices unable to upgrade.
There are no indications that’ll happen anytime soon, unless Microsoft surprises us with the release of Windows 12 much sooner than expected.
A more likely scenario is that a handful of older devices won’t be able to update, but they should still receive security updates for quite a while.
What new features will be available in the 23H2 update?
The 22H2 update isn’t even official yet, so it’s hard to predict what will be added to Windows 11 a year later. Still, we already have some idea of what to expect.
As Windows Latest reported, a recent Microsoft webcast includes a PowerPoint file named ‘SV3 Refined Investments Next Steps’. Many people have taken this to mean Sun Valley 3, the expected internal codename for version 23H2.
Image: Windows Latest/Microsoft
Considering the original Windows 11 release was known simply as ‘Sun Valley’, this feels like a logical conclusion. However, it’s anyone’s guess what ‘refined investments’ actually means. Perhaps it’s more subtle tweaks rather than any big overhaul, but that was always likely.
However, in an April 2022 video, Windows Central’s Zac Bowden and Daniel Rubino discuss what the 23H2 update could entail. Despite the big caveat that this could all change, there are some useful insights worth knowing about – both are reliable journalists with a strong track record for Windows 11 news.
Despite Windows 10’s dedicated tablet mode being dropped for Windows 11, Microsoft is continuing to make the OS more suited to touch input. Bowden anticipates there’ll be more to come, with the potential for a separate tablet user interface (UI) to be reintroduced in 23H2.
He also believes that the update will further improve how Windows communicates with Android. Microsoft recently rebranded the Your Phone companion app as ‘Phone Link’, redesigning it in the process. With the Surface Duo 3 also likely in 2023, this makes a lot of sense.
Bowden also believes version 23H2 might be when we’ll finally see a system-wide dark mode. This was originally intended for the first release of Windows 11 in 2021, but there’s no suggestion it’ll arrive this year either.
Later in the video, Rubino suggests 2023 will be a big year for foldables running Windows 11. That might not include a portrait Surface Duo, but Microsoft will be keen to optimise the operating system for a variety of different form factors.
We’ll update this article once more is revealed about the 23H2 update. It’s almost certain to be delivered to Windows 11, but Windows 12 may still be on the horizon.