Microsoft is shifting to a new engineering schedule for Windows that will see the company return to a more traditional three-year release cycle for major Windows client versions, while ramping up production of new features that ship to the current version of Windows on the market.
The news comes just a year later. the company announced that it would move to an annual release cadence for new versions of Windows. According to my sources familiar with these plans, Microsoft now intends to ship “major” versions of the Windows client every three years, with the next release currently scheduled for 2024, three years after Windows 11 shipped in 2021.
This means that the originally planned Windows 2023 client release (codenamed Sun Valley 3) has been scrapped, but that’s not the end of the story. I’m told that with the move to this new development schedule, Microsoft also plans to increase production of new features that are rolled out to users in the latest version of Windows.
Beginning with Windows 11 version 22H2 (Sun Valley 2), Microsoft is launching a new “Moments” engineering effort that is designed to enable the company to roll out new features and experiences at key points throughout the year, outside of major operating system releases. I’ve heard that the company intends to ship new features to the retail version of Windows every few months, up to four times a year, starting in 2023.
microsoft has I already tried this system with the launch of the taskbar weather button in Windows 11 earlier this year. That same approach will be used for these moments, where the company will bundle a handful of new features that have been testing with Insiders and roll them out to everyone in addition to the latest released version of Windows.
Many of the features that were planned for the now-scrapped Sun Valley 3 client release will ship as part of one of these times in addition to Sun Valley 2, rather than a new dedicated Windows client release in fall 2023. .
In the past, most product teams had to wait for Windows’ annual fall release to deliver new features, but now those teams can ship their features sooner thanks to this new Moments engineering effort. Please note that the term “Moments” is what Microsoft internally calls these planned features. I’m not sure if that brand will be used publicly, and it’s unclear if Microsoft intends to increase the version number of Windows 11 to “23H2” along with them.
Regarding the release of Windows in 2024, not much is known about it at this time. It’s currently in the early stages of planning and engineering, and is referred to as “Next Valley” by people within the company in conversations, though I’m not sure if that’s the final code name for the project.
Overall, these changes to the Windows roadmap are significant and will allow Microsoft to make big new Windows client releases every few years as it has in the past, while also keeping the retail version of Windows up to date with new releases. features and changes that are rolled out to users on a regular and frequent basis.
Of course, as with any internal plan, the direction and schedules can change or fail at any time. Microsoft officials declined to comment.
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