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In context: Considering the fact that Windows 11 and Windows 10 reached a combined total of 1.4 billion monthly active PCs earlier this year, it seemed like the right decision for Microsoft to slow down the pace of Windows feature updates in order to focus on system stability with monthly security patches and bug fixes. However, the company is now reportedly moving to a new Windows development cycle that comprises pushing out feature updates up to four times a year, with a new major version of the Windows client coming out every three years.
With Windows 11, Microsoft said it would be releasing feature updates on an annual basis, which will arrive in the second half of each calendar year. Soon after the announcement, the company also shifted Windows 10's feature update schedule from its twice-a-year cycle to the same single update cadence.
It's why we didn't get an official 22H1 version of either operating system, though Microsoft did release a Windows 11 feature update earlier this year that arrived outside of the company's established roadmap.
Now, with the upcoming 22H2 release for Windows 11 (code-named Sun Valley 2), Microsoft is tweaking the Windows development cycle further by ramping up the frequency of future feature updates and is shifting to a three-year release cycle for 'major' Windows versions.
This new roadmap, reports Windows Central, will have Microsoft rolling out new features and experiences for its current OS up to four times a year. The planned feature drops will arrive as part of Microsoft's new engineering effort internally called 'Moments,' which means IT admins might soon be having more of their own as well. And since Microsoft is back to numbering its major OS releases, the company could potentially end up announcing Windows 12 by 2024.
As of now, details around Microsoft's next major OS version are expectedly scarce. It's apparently called 'Next Valley' inside the company and is currently in the early planning and engineering phase.