Windows 11 Just Had A Moment

The headline is silly, i know. Couldn’t help myself 🙂 So, i just recently learned that Microsoft decided to change its feature release method again. They had semi-annual feature releases for Windows 10 for a while, with fall releases having longer support time and usually being more reliability, performance and security focused. With the release of Windows 11 they said that they are switching to big updates once a year, because customers (or rather admins) are tired of too fast of a cadence. At my place we just ignored spring releases and only installed second release of the year anyway. But now they say customers want more rapid release of features. Are they polling the same customers or different crowds every time? 🙂

Last big Windows 11 update was 22H2 released in September. Not all features were released at that date. Things like tabs in File Explorer and some other features came later. Which is now being called Moment 1 update. And the second such Moment is coming this March. Btw, there is an optional KB5022913 update that can be installed already, if you don’t want to wait. New features will come in a regular monthly update package that comes with security patches and quality improvements. This will happen a few times a year (don’t know yet how often, 2-3 is my guess). For home users it will be installed and enabled immediately. But for enterprise users there is a catch. They are adding a control (either GPO or Intune) that will allow to enable such features when they are released. This control is in disabled state by default. So, companies must decide to allow it and enable it. If not, then such features will be installed, but stay in a dormant state. Until at the end of the year the next big update is released, say 23H2. This update will be in a form of an Enablement Package, which they have been using for a while with Windows 10. Which means, it is a very small package that just flips a switch and makes all dormant features go live. It doesn’t install anything and it is a very fast “update” process (and restart to complete is also very fast). Of course, for those who opted to install new features right away this end of the year update will only be a change of a version number and nothing else. Well, which of course will mean an extension of support time. Unless another Moment X update is meant to coincide with the end of the year update release. In such case you at least will get some new features and not just a version bump.

The commercial customer control policy will be introduced with the same update coming in March (already available as a preview). At our place we have received tabs in File Explorer and Task Manager context menu when right clicking anywhere on the taskbar. So, Moment 1 was delivered to all customers. But i am guessing Moment 2 features will not be enabled for us this time as we don’t have this GPO enabled. So far we are opting to yearly release of new features, so we can be prepared and have time to test it by enabling on selected machines only. It is handy that it comes in disabled state by default for business customers (Enterprise version). But will need to see how it actually works. Might need to update this article.

There is one gotcha though mentioned in the articles on Microsoft IT Pro blog. They say that some features might still be enabled even if you company doesn’t have new setting enabled. They don’t elaborate on what these features are, so it makes it a bit confusing and unclear on what to expect after March 14th update. Say, we have setting in disabled state. Will we get 2 new features out of 10 or what? I am guessing again, that maybe they will only enforce under the hood performance and security features this way, but not the clearly visible to the user changes and enhancements. Only time will tell.

UPDATE: we did receive all Moment 2 features. And later Microsoft commented in the blog post that new control policy will only block new features that they deem disruptive. So, this is not a very good control option as MS probably won’t mark most of new features as disruptive. Good thing is that new Search functionality can be controlled by a separate policy.

This is the article on Windows IT Pro blog talking about the new control setting for commercial customers.

For detailed list of new features that will be available in Moment 2 update you can check out this Neowin article (with pictures). They also mention a few in the latest article on IT Pro blog. To name a few:

  • Filter in Task Manager, so you don’t have to scroll a lot to find that one process
  • Tabs in Notepad. Yes, tabs are the new rage. Tabs in File Explorer, in Terminal, now in Notepad.
  • Search improvements – this i am least excited about, looks like it can show a search bar or icon or other modes on the taskbar, updated search in Start menu.
  • Tablet optimized taskbar, which hides itself when not used
  • Redesigned notification area (systray), looking more Windows 11 style with new hidden icons popup
  • Search in File Explorer will happen as you type, no need to press Enter
  • Screen recorder in the snipping tool
  • Improved Windows Studio Effects controls, right in the Quick Settings
  • Widgets can be used without a Microsoft Account, there is full screen mode and 3d party widgets coming to the store

And a few technical details to end this:
Windows 11 22H2 original build number was 22621
Moment 1 brought it to 22621.675
Moment 2 should bump it to 22621.1344 (whether you have new features enabled or not)

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