Microsoft is making a big change with Windows, switching to a new plan of introducing a new incarnation of the desktop operating system every three years, with smaller and more regular feature updates in between.
The move to a new tech scheme is a rumor from Windows Central’s Zac Bowden (opens in new tab)who has good connections with Microsoft, and has offered reliable leaks in the past.
As mentioned, the theory of what happens in the future is that Windows will have a three-year release cycle, and since Windows 11 came out in 2021, that means an all-new Windows – possibly Windows 12, maybe something completely different – arrives in 2024 (Windows 24? Windows XXIV? WindowsOS, ahem?). And then another version will come out in 2027, then flush and repeat (unless Microsoft changes its mind, which is a good 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 for new features with a new incarnation of Windows, so the current version will be constantly updated with new functionality over a given year.
So instead of a major annual feature update, Microsoft will release smaller feature updates every few months, up to four per year, Bowden claims.
This situation will come into play starting next year, so of course we’ll still get the Windows 11 22H2 update (aka Sun Valley 2) later this year, but Sun Valley 3 has apparently been scrapped. In 2023, we’ll instead move to those more compact feature updates that roll out quarterly (or thereabouts) 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 one 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 that), and it would be updated continuously on a rolling basis, twice a year. That original concept clearly changed when Windows 11 was launched and major feature updates were reduced to a once-a-year level.
However, as the cadence of those major feature upgrades has slowed, Microsoft has already introduced “experience packs,” which may sound like they come straight out of a plan to monetize an MMORPG, but are in fact Microsoft’s plan to make more regular updates. For example, feature experience packs can be deployed to update legacy core apps for Windows without a major feature update.
So really, what we’re hearing here is kind of what we already have – with Windows 11 after Windows 10, we could surmise that another version was probably coming. And Moments are basically powerful experience packs and a way to make changes that improve the current interface without radically changing it, needed to facilitate more regular tuning for the desktop OS if Microsoft is moving to a three-year plan for new versions of Windows — which is a big if. While those will be all new versions of Windows where wholesale changes to the UI or user experience will be introduced.
Another way of looking at this is that it makes sense in terms of a logical extension of the direction Microsoft has already taken. And a three-year release gap ties in perfectly with recent history for the software giant, with Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 having three years between them all.
Still, we’ll have to consider this just a rumor for now, even if a lot of it makes sense to us, and it’s from a more reliable source than most Microsoft-related speculation. Plus, even though it’s the current plan at Microsoft, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way — of course, the company hasn’t been shy about chopping up and changing the way the operating system is produced lately.