The coming year for Windows 11 and special moments.
Windows 11 experienced a mostly uneventful year in 2022. It marked the release of the Windows 11 2022 Update, which introduced several new features and enhancements designed to refine the operating system from its 2021 debut version. Now that 2022 is coming to a close, it’s time to look ahead to the following year and share what I’ve heard from sources about updated schedules and new features.
Microsoft has launched a new engineering initiative called “Moments” with Windows 11 version 22H2 that aims to deliver “continuous innovation” to Windows 11 users throughout the product’s lifecycle. Instead of waiting for the annual Windows feature update in the fall, Microsoft now plans to release new features every few months in a series of feature drops. The first feature drop, which included tabs for File Explorer, was released in October.
Windows 11 Moment 2
The next Windows 11 moment update is anticipated to be released in February or March and will include additional features and improvements for Windows 11 users. Here is a list of the most anticipated new features in the Moment 2 update for Windows 11:
- Tablet-mode Taskbar
- System Tray updates
- More search bar options
- Energy recommendations in Settings
- Search in Task Manager
- Full-screen widgets panel
- Studio Effects in Quick Settings
- Voice Access enhancements
Some of these features are noteworthy, particularly those surrounding the Taskbar and System Tray. Microsoft has no qualms about delivering significant changes and updates to the Windows UI via these Moments, and the second Moment update for Windows 11 on tablets will be a significant one.
The new tablet-mode Taskbar incorporates the Windows 10X-introduced, minimized Taskbar interface. When Windows detects a touchscreen and no keyboard or mouse, the Windows Taskbar will now minimize to provide additional space for the user’s running applications. Users can swipe up on the Taskbar to access pinned and running applications, and larger hitboxes make it easier to use with a finger.
Additionally, there will be modifications to the System Tray, specifically the System Tray overflow menu, which has been rewritten from the ground up with modern code. It is more consistent with the rest of the Windows 11 interface, and you can disable the overflow button if you never use it.
Windows 11 Moment 3 and beyond
Microsoft also intends to release a third Moment update for Windows 11 in late spring or early summer, most likely in May or June. I have heard that Microsoft is working on delivering preliminary improvements for foldable PCs, for both single-screen and dual-screen form factors, before the release of Moment 3.
I anticipate additional changes to the Windows Search UI, updates to some in-box applications, and more. Microsoft still intends to replace the Windows Mail & Calendar apps with the new Outlook web client, a process that could begin in 2023 once the new client can integrate with third-party email services.
A major emphasis of these Moment updates throughout 2023 will be the continuation of modernizing legacy interfaces to be consistent with the rest of Windows 11. Many older Windows 8 and Windows 7 interfaces, such as the USB Autoplay interface, recovery and device rename dialogs, and Windows Firewall popups, are expected to receive new designs throughout 2023.
Windows 11 version 23H2
Microsoft remains committed to releasing an annual Windows 11 feature update despite the widespread adoption of moment updates. This means that Windows 11 version 23H2 will be released in the fall, most likely in September or October, with new features and an updated support lifecycle.
In contrast to previous Windows 11 feature updates, I do not anticipate the 23H2 feature update to be a major platform release. It will be delivered similarly to a Moment update, and not as a completely new release of Windows like 22H2 was.
I’ve also heard that a Moment 4 update is planned for around the same time, but I’m unsure if Moment 4 is the 23H2 release or a separate update arriving shortly after 23H2 launches, similar to how Moment 1 accompanied the 22H1 release.
The following is a list of Windows 11 update milestones expected to be released in 2023:
- Windows 11 22H2 Moment 2: February/March
- Windows 11 22H2 Moment 3: May/June
- Windows 11 23H2 Moment 4: September/October
This new continuous innovation schedule ensures that users will receive new features and significant changes frequently throughout the year, roughly every few months. This is a significant deviation from previous Windows releases, which typically introduced new features once or twice a year.