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Comprehensive Overview

This comprehensive overview of Windows 11 22H2 (*), the OS’s first major yearly update

Enlarge / Windows 11 22H2 is entering its next stage of development, according to rumors—and the OS itself.Andrew Cunningham Windows 11 has already changed quite a bit since the version we reviewed in October was released, and Microsoft has put out a steady stream of redesigned app updates, bug fixes, and user interface improvements. But the…

Windows 11 22H2 is entering its next stage of development, according to rumors—and the OS itself.

Enlarge / Windows 11 22H2 is entering its next stage of development, according to rumors–and the OS itself.

Andrew Cunningham

Windows 11 has already changed quite a bit since the version we reviewed in October was released, and Microsoft has put out a steady stream of redesigned app updates, bug fixes, and user interface improvements.

However, the company’s major yearly Windows updates remain important. They’re where Microsoft makes the most significant changes to Windows 11’s look and feel and under-the-hood features. This week, rumors suggested that Microsoft is wrapping up work on what will eventually be released as Windows 11 version 22H2, the OS’s first yearly update. That build, currently available to the Windows Insider Beta channel as build number 22621.1, will serve as the foundation for the next year of Windows updates.

We cover new Windows Insider builds quite often, depending on how significant the changes are. But to save you the trouble of scrolling through months of articles, we’ve gathered together all the most significant differences between the current public build of Windows 11 21H2 (for the record, 22000. 675) and the latest beta of version 22H2.

Yearly updates ain’t what they used to be

First, a caveat. Microsoft has made changes to the way it updates Windows over the past year. The company now releases many app updates and UI tweaks when they’re ready instead of waiting for a major yearly OS update as it would have back in the Windows 10 days. That more flexible schedule has already allowed Microsoft to fix some of Windows 11’s early shortcomings, including missing taskbar features and apps that still hadn’t been updated with the new look and feel.

It also means that this overview won’t include all of the Windows features that will be a part of the 22H2 update when it launches. It’s likely that apps like the new Sound Recorder, currently in preview in the Dev channel, will be released to the public before the 22H2 update is formally released. Still-in-testing features like the tabbed File Explorer could be done in time, too. Those and other changes could be included in the 22H2 update, they could be released before it’s out, or they might never be released.

So this overview is just a snapshot of Windows 11 22H2 as it currently exists. We’ll be back to review it once it’s available for public viewing.

Mandatory Microsoft account sign-in

The Home edition of Windows 11 (and of some of the later Windows 10 releases) all required an Internet connection and a Microsoft account sign-in at setup, pushing users to embed themselves deeper in Microsoft’s ecosystem. There are some benefits to this process, including automated local disk encryption and recovery key backup, pass

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