This is the rumour that has been circulating for a few weeks, and it seems that the Windows event on 24 June will answer all the questions.
According to Michael Niehaus, former Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, it seems that, yes. It is increasingly likely that Windows 10 will become Windows 11. But that really doesn't change much, beyond the marketing message you would put behind such a change. We don't expect it to change anything related to Windows as a Service (which means that yes, you'll still get free upgrades, and unless someone decides to make more unannounced changes to WaaS, you'll see them again every six months), licensing or SKUs (editions).
Why change the name at all? It's really a marketing issue: it's really hard to market something as "new and improved" if the name doesn't change. Over the past few years, this has led to such fun names as "Windows 10 Creators Update" (and even more "creative" names like "Fall Creators Update"), because you need some sort of name to be used as an "anchor" for new features and capabilities.
Will there still be 'technical' names like 21H1, 20H2, 20H1, etc.?
Yes, most likely, as it is just a shortcut to tell you which specific version you are using. We would expect to see a 22H1 version (or maybe just a 22H2, as there might be no compelling reason, or even time to develop, for a 22H1 version) on top of Windows 11, which would itself still be 21H2. But these names are not intended, and don't really work well, for marketing purposes. You will only see them in WINVER so you can tell at a glance what you are using.
So what will we see coming out?
This is what we expect:
- Windows 11 in all the same SKUs (editions) that you see today. Anyone will be able to upgrade for free (subject to standard licensing restrictions, for example, you cannot upgrade to a later Enterprise version if you have stopped paying for your E3/E5 subscription - but you can upgrade to Pro ).
- A "feature pack" that installs on top of Windows 11 to provide a new shell and associated user interface components (e.g. rounded corners). This will likely have the option to be disabled, for companies that can't handle the change and want to continue using the Windows 10 UI (for at least a period of time - eventually there will be no desire to continue maintaining both UIs, so you will be pushed to the new one). This feature pack can be updated independently of the operating system version, so it can change over time.
- An LTSC version that cannot get the new shell and associated user interface components. These LTSC versions are designed to stay exactly the same for their entire support period (now at five years instead of 10, as Microsoft previously announced ), so they are fundamentally incompatible with this "revised and updated independently" concept. (So will this LTSC version still be called Windows 10 because it won't have the Windows 11 user interface? It's entirely possible - it also helps reinforce the argument for businesses that this is not a general purpose OS version you should be using considering).
Yes, our expectations for the new features in Windows 11 are what others have suggested (in too many links to mention): a fresh coat of paint. Lots of eye candy. A new Start menu (without dynamic tiles). Clipboard and copy/paste improvements. Updates to built-in applications (but not all). Updated settings pages (but not all). Fewer cases where you have to fall back on the Control Panel (but you'll still need it). A new shop app (which might actually contain things you want, e.g. via links to winget ). Some new fonts. Updated sounds (will the startup sound come back?). A better out-of-the-box user interface (OOBE) (which most companies never see because of unattend.xml orAutopilot).
A feature we would like to see ? stub apps
Currently, built-in applications are pre-installed (hence "in box") and update frequently, which generates a lot of unnecessary network traffic if you don't use these applications. Imagine if these applications were instead stubs that don't install until you run the application for the first time. The savings in network traffic (as well as some minor reductions in disk space) would be appreciable. It's not clear from the rumours whether the apps would be stubs by default, or whether they could be "stubbed" due to non-use. I hope for the former.
Interestingly, the only other "non-IU" enhancement I've seen discussed is related to Bluetooth. There will probably be a few other features that "go along for the ride" because they were in development anyway - with the 20H2 and 21H1 releases being mostly "no new features" releases, there's a backlog of teams that actually wanted to ship new stuff, so there will probably be a hodgepodge of other stuff. Not necessarily exciting, just in the sense of what we're used to with Windows 10 feature updates.
What about these "Windows 10 support ends in October 2025" discussions that have been going on for several days?
It's not really related - you just never noticed that the Windows 10 support lifecycle date always listed a 10 year support lifecycle. This is just a side effect of Windows 10 being covered by the " fixed lifecycle policy " and is more akin to a "display issue" that should be resolved before 2025 - there are many ways to handle this without hitting Windows 11, but the bump certainly gives the opportunity to move that date range (e.g. 2021 to 2026 - with five years and no extended support, it wouldn't change it much, just adding a year).
What about the stories about build numbers going from 21nnn to 22nnn?
This is just a sign of a new fork being created for the "next, next" version of Windows 10. Build numbers are being increased to make room for a few more builds in the current fork (Cobalt), so it's a sign that a "release to production" (RTM) approval is imminent. This doesn't mean much in the era of the "anything can be fixed in the next cumulative update" structure.
Will there be a new ADK? Most likely, yes, as indicated by the notes on the recently released Windows Server 2022 version of the ADK. But we would not expect much new in this kit beyond what is already in the Windows kitServer. Will there be a new version of MDT? Most likely not, as the ADK and unattend.xml are unlikely to change to require it.
We'll be tuning in on the 24th to hear the official announcement, which will probably be followed by a flurry of blogs and additional publications explaining everything the event won't cover directly - it will focus on the UI features, not the core things IT professionals want to know. It will focus on user interface features, not the core things that IT professionals want to know.
Until then, enjoy all the rumours...
Let's go further together!
If you have a question or a suggestion, we are at your disposal to answer it by email or by phone.