Windows 11 22H2 Goes Gold; it should be shipped later this year

Microsoft said today that the shipping version of Windows 11 22H2 has been released on its Insider channelmeaning the production release (RTM) will generally be available later this year.

In the meantime, corporate IT departments can drop by to test the release – Build 22621 – from the Windows Insider Preview Downloads website and start validating it on systems with the extension suitable hardware requirements.

Commercial Devices Subscribed to Windows Insider Program for Business Windows 11 22H2 will automatically be offered as an optional upgrade within the Release Preview channel. Non-commercial Windows Insider devices can manually search for build 22621 via Settings > Windows Update.

Once an Insider Channel subscriber upgrades a PC to version 22H2, it will continue to automatically receive new maintenance updates via Windows Update (the typical monthly update process). Microsoft provides instructions on how to join the Windows Insider program and join a PC to the Release Preview channel.

In addition to pre-release commercial availability, Microsoft also offers free support for organizations running the build, meaning IT stores can test the release and their preferred deployment methods, while still getting support ahead of availability. Microsoft hasn’t specified when the next version of Windows 11 will arrive, though major updates have traditionally rolled out in October or November.

Steve Kleynhans, vice president of research for digital workplace infrastructure and operations at Gartner, said the latest build of Windows 11 isn’t the “final release” in any real sense.

“This is a larger preview of the current 22H2 code build,” he said. “It’s probably close to completion, but it’s likely that there will still be some refinements and refinements in the coming months. Also, there are still some features that haven’t been released (like the Windows 365 chunks discussed in April). Microsoft has a lot more flexibility in how it can deliver changes to the user experience without necessarily shipping a new build.”

It’s interesting, Kleynhans said, “that Microsoft chose to move 22H2 to broad preview so early, probably four months before it’s officially released. I suspect the hope is that companies do some testing over the summer and are potentially ready to start large deployments a little earlier than currently planned.

“Most companies don’t plan to roll out until well into 2023, probably nearly a year from now,” he said. “I suspect Microsoft would like to push it to Q1 if possible.”

That said, the current preview is “pretty solid: and much more refined than the current 21H2 release, and because Microsoft is making it widely available, it shows a level of confidence from the company that could entice some early adopters of the plunge,” Kleynhans said.

In recent months, Windows 11 adoption rates have dropped by a trickle, according to recent data from computer monitoring software vendor AdDuplex and others.

Released in October 2021, Windows 11 reached an “overall usage” of 19.7% in April, an increase of more than 10% since the beginning of December 2021. An additional 0.6% of users are running a build of Windows 11 Insider, second the most recent data from AdDuplex.

Windows 11 usage share grew by less than 0.4% in April. That comes on top of less than 0.2% growth in March, according to AdDuplex.

While Windows 11 isn’t growing, Windows 10 21H2 added another 6.5%.

Microsoft has been pushing to get users to upgrade to Windows 11, but the vast majority have chosen to stick with the previous edition, which continue to receive support until 2025.

Of the 80% who use Windows 10, the largest number of users are using the two most recent updates, Windows 10 N21U (21H2), released November 2021 (28.5%) and Windows 10 M21U (21H1), released March 2021 (26.5%).

The remaining 25% is on five previous versions of Windows 10.

“For the most part, commercial customers aren’t really diving into the new operating system, and we don’t expect to see big uptake until 2023,” Kleynhans said.

“For the majority of consumers who aren’t PC enthusiasts in any way, this isn’t really a high priority and they won’t actively seek out the upgrade,” he said. “Until Microsoft starts forcing the update, or at least more aggressively marketing it to users on eligible machines, things are bound to stall a bit. I suspect we will see Microsoft start marketing the update more aggressively over the next few months and really start pushing it in the fall.”

For its part, Microsoft said it has seen strong demand for Windows 11 with people accepting the OS upgrade offer at twice the rate the company saw for Windows 10, according to a January blog post by Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer for Windows and Devices.

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