March 4, 2024

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Microsoft begins testing Windows 11 24H2 as this year's big update debuts

Microsoft begins testing Windows 11 24H2 as this year's big update debuts
Zoom in / Windows 11 24H2 makes its debut.

Andrew Cunningham

The next major version of Windows isn't scheduled to launch until the end of the year, but Microsoft appears to be off to an early start. New Windows Insider builds It was released on Canary and Dev channels Both are bumping up their version numbers to “24H2,” indicating that they're the earliest versions of what Microsoft will eventually release to all Windows users sometime this fall.

The new features in 24H2 include a few things Microsoft has already publicly tested since the big batch of new features dropped last September, as well as a few new things. The biggest new one is an addition Sudo for Windows, a version of the Linux/Unix terminal command that debuted in a preview version earlier this month. The new version also includes better hearing aid support, support for creating 7-zip and TAR archives in File Explorer, a power saving mode, and new changes to the SMB protocol. This release also removes both the WordPad and Tips applications.

Some of these features may be released to all Windows 11 users before the end of the year. During the Windows 11 era, Microsoft's practice was to drop new features in several small batches throughout the year.

The early change to 24H2 numbering is a departure from last year, where Windows 11 23H2 didn't appear publicly until the end of October. Even then, it was mostly just an update relayed via build number and Microsoft's support hour for software updates, as most of its “new” features had already rolled out to PCs running Windows 11 22H2 the previous month.

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There are some indications that this update will be significant in scope. In addition to all the features Microsoft mentioned, there are signs that the company is reviewing things Like the Windows setup process Which you go through when you install the operating system from the beginning. The current setup screens have remained essentially unchanged since Windows Vista in 2006, with only mild and cosmetic tweaks since then (and even in the redesigned version, window borders are still made Vista/7 style).

Logistically, this initial Windows 11 24H2 release allows Windows Insider testers in the more stable Canary channel to switch to the less stable Dev channel without completely reinstalling Windows. Eventually, this window will close, and the Canary channel will move to a new series of version numbers.

Where is Windows 12?

some News outlets And Users We took the announcement of this update as evidence that the rumored “Windows 12” won't happen this year. The existence of Windows 12, which has been largely inferred based on rumors and stray data from PC makers and analysts, has neither been officially confirmed nor denied by Microsoft.

The 24H2 update indicates that Windows 11 will continue to work for at least another year, but it does not necessarily prevent Windows 12 from launching this year. Windows 10 received the 21H2 Update the year Windows 11 was released and the 22H2 Update the following year (which did not come with significant new features). Microsoft could decide to rename the next feature update on relatively short notice — as it originally did with Windows 11, which started out as a major design overhaul of Windows 10. Windows 12 may happen, or it may not happen, but I won't accept this as Windows. Update 11 24H2 as conclusive evidence one way or another.

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AI has been said to be the main focus of the default Windows 12 operating system, as has been the case in the last few Windows 11 updates. Trendforce It went so far as to say that “AI-powered PCs” running “next-generation Windows” would need a “baseline” of 16GB of RAM, although when asked about this by a Microsoft representative, He told us that the company “does not comment on rumors and speculation.” Trendforce also said that AI PCs will need neural processing units (NPUs) that meet certain performance standards.

To date, Microsoft has not imposed any specific system requirements for Copilot or other generative AI features for Windows, aside from the 4GB RAM and 720p display requirement for the Windows 10 version of Copilot, but that may change If more AI features start for Windows. Relying on local processing instead of cloud processing.

List image from Microsoft