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Windows 11 23H2 will release as small update (likely) in October 2023

  • Microsoft announces the Windows 11 23H2 release for the fourth quarter of 2023.
  • The feature update will roll out as a small update, not requiring reinstallation.
  • Windows 11 23H2 is expected to introduce new features and changes, such as Windows Copilot.
  • Other expected changes include an updated version of File Explorer and RAR and 7-Zip native support.

Microsoft unveils details of the upcoming release of Windows 11 23H2. After many months of development, the company is confirming that the next feature update of Windows 11 will roll out as a small enablement package, meaning that it’ll install similarly to monthly updates without reinstallation.

According to the company announcement, Windows 11 23H2 “shares the same servicing branch and code base as Windows 11, version 22H2.” […] “If you’re running Windows 11, version 22H2, it will be a simple update to version 23H2 via a small enablement package (eKB).” Furthermore, since both version share the same source code, Windows 11 23H2 should introduce any application or device compatibility problems.

The software giant also revealed the plan to make the feature update available during the fourth quarter of 2023 but didn’t share the exact release date. However, reviewing the previous release patterns, it’s likely that the Windows 11 23H2 could release on October 10, 2023, during the Patch Tuesday rollout. (However, if the company needs more time, the update could also release at the end of October or sometime in November.)

As usual, the company will sign off on the feature update sometime before the release date, which means that the final bits of version 23H2 will be available in the Release Preview Channel before heading to the stable channel to continue testing and ensure the quality of the operating system.

Windows 11 23H2 will start rolling out on the release date, but it will only be available for some devices. Instead, the company will gradually deploy the feature update through Windows Update, ensuring every device has a good upgrade experience. However, you will have the choice to force the upgrade to the new version by manually triggering the installation through Windows Update. You will also be able to download the package manually from the  Windows Update Catalog website to force the upgrade.

The company will eventually update the Windows 11 ISO file, Media Creation Tool, and Installation Assistant. However, these tools will upgrade any version of Windows 11 to version 23H2 using reinstallation, which is unnecessary if everything is working as expected on your device.

As part of the new features and improvements, Windows 11 23H2 is expected to introduce some significant changes. For instance, this feature update will ship with the Windows Copilot, a new chatbot AI that integrates with Bing Chat AI and first and third-party plugins.

Copilot on build 23493
Copilot on build 23493

You will find an updated version of File Explorer based on the XAML programming code and the new WinUI 3 from the Windows App SDK (WASDK). The new version of the app will include a new “Gallery” view for pictures, redesigned “Home” page, AI recommendations for Azure Active Directory (AAD) accounts, redesigned header interface with new visuals and animations, new “Details” pane, the ability to drag tabs in and out, and much more.

File Explorer new Home an header
File Explorer new Home an header / Image: Microsoft

Version 23H2 will introduce native support for RAR and 7-zip archival formats with the new integration for the “libarchive” open-source project. You will find a new volume mixer in Quick Settings. Snap Layouts will include snapping suggestions, the Taskbar is getting labels for apps again, and you will able to end an unresponsive application without opening the Task Manager.

File Explorer extract RAR and 7-Zip
File Explorer extract RAR and 7-Zip

Furthermore, the feature update will ship with a new Windows Backup application, support for RGB lighting accessories from the Settings app, and passkey support to sign into apps and websites using Windows Hello.

Dynamic lighting settings
Dynamic lighting settings

The “Disks & volumes” page also adds the ability to create and manage virtual drives, including VHD, VHDX, Dev Drives, and a lot more.

If you want to get early access to the next feature update of Windows 11, you’ll have to enroll your computer in the Beta Channel of the Windows Insider Program and install build 22631.2048 or a higher release.

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