Microsoft is currently developing the next major version of Windows, which is expected to ship later this year as Windows 11 "version 24H2" and the 2024 Update. Unlike version 23H2 from last year, version 24H2 is expected to be a much larger OS update based on a new version of the Windows platform that brings performance and security improvements along with notable new features and quality-of-life updates.
Additionally, version 24H2 is expected to focus heavily on next-generation AI experiences, something Microsoft has been teasing over the last year. Rumors suggest a new advanced Copilot is on the way that will enhance the Windows UX with AI and machine learning to improve productivity across apps, search, and more.
Microsoft is currently testing many of the features that will make up this next release in the Insider Canary Channel, so we already know about some of the new features coming in this next release. We'll continue to update this post as new features are made available or discovered!
Windows 11 version 24H2: Release date
According to my sources, Microsoft is targeting a September release window for version 24H2, with the company expecting to finalize the update over the summer. I'm told Microsoft intends to market this release as an AI-centric one, timed with next-gen AI PCs that Microsoft has already announced are coming throughout 2024.
Because version 24H2 will be based on a new version of the Windows platform, there are multiple development milestones between now and the general availability of the version 24H2 update. Microsoft intends to sign off on the new Windows platform release (called Germanium) in April. Once that's done, work will begin on "finalizing" the version 24H2 update, which will be built on the signed-off Germanium platform build.
A new release of the Windows platform means the update will be installed using the "OS swap" method. An OS swap update is that is applied by replacing the entire OS with a newer version. This is different from version 23H2, which was applied by servicing the existing OS install. This is only possible when the platform release doesn't change between versions.
All this is to say version 24H2 won't begin shipping until the second half of 2024. Some next-gen AI PCs will begin shipping with version 24H2 preloaded as early as June. However, the version 24H2 update won't be made generally available to existing Windows 11 users until September at the earliest when the update is deemed fully ready.
This release will be the one that powers up next-gen AI PCs, some of which have already been announced and will start shipping as soon as next month. These PCs have powerful NPUs that will take advantage of new AI features that haven't yet been announced, although Microsoft has teased them.
Windows 11 version 24H2: Microsoft Copilot
Microsoft is planning to deliver even more updates to the Microsoft Copilot for Windows with version 24H2, starting with moving the Copilot button itself to the far right corner of the Taskbar. This should make it easier to access as users will be able to easily throw their cursor into the corner to open the Copilot interface.
There's also a number of new animations that will play over the Copilot icon when a user copy's text or an image, indicating to the user that Copilot is available to help with the content that has just been copied. Hovering over the icon will reveal a small jump list with Summarize, Explain, and Edit options for the content that is currently copied.
Version 24H2 also adds a dedicated "Copilot in Windows" setting in the Settings app, which will let users enable or disable the Copilot UI from appearing on startup on PCs with large screens, as well as configure chat providers and third-party plugins.
While not yet in testing, word on the rumor mill suggests Microsoft is planning to introduce a more "advanced Copilot" with version 24H2 that will utilize next-generation AI PCs to improve productivity across apps, files, and search. One such feature Microsoft is working on is a new AI-powered user history/timeline UI, which will let users find any word, file, image, or app that was previously open on their PC using AI and Windows Copilot.
Windows 11 version 24H2: Snap Layouts
Microsoft is working on yet more improvements to Snap Layouts on Windows. With version 24H2, the company is introducing a new feature that will use machine learning to identify commonly snapped apps and automatically suggest them in the Snap Layout interface when a user hovers over the maximize button on an app window.
For example, if you normally have Microsoft Edge snapped with Notepad, opening the Snap Layouts menu in one of those apps will automatically present the user with an option to snap both Edge and Notepad side by side with a single click instead of being manually prompted to snap the second app of your choice.
Windows 11 version 24H2: File Explorer
As is the case with every new version of Windows, Microsoft is making more changes to the File Explorer app with version 24H2. This release delivers the ability to create 7zip and TAR compressed archive files in addition to ZIP files. The 23H2 release added the ability to extract these archive files but not create them. Microsoft also says it has improved the performance of File Explorer when opening large ZIP files.
Additionally, PNG files now support viewing and editing metadata. This means users can now set a star rating in the properties dialog, edit a PNG file description, and add keywords.
Windows 11 version 24H2: Quick Settings
Microsoft is making some changes to the Quick Settings panel on the Windows taskbar. Starting with this release, the Quick Settings interface is now paginated, meaning you can scroll through all of the quick settings available on your PC instead of having a selection of them manually placed there by the user. You can still customize the positioning of the settings by clicking and dragging them.
The Wi-Fi list in the Quick Settings panel has also been updated with a new refresh button, which will refresh the Wi-Fi list when pressed. Users who use a VPN on Windows will also notice an improved UI for managing your VPN in the Quick Settings panel, with a new split toggle that lets you turn it on and off with a single click.
Lastly, Microsoft says it has improved the performance of the Quick Settings panel, which means it shouldn't take as long to open when attempting to open it for the first time upon a reboot.
Windows 11 version 24H2: Phone Link
Microsoft is working on several improvements to the phone linking capabilities between Windows and Android devices with the version 24H2 update. There's a new "manage mobile devices" app that lets you link your phone to your PC outside of the Phone Link app for basic functionality like photo notifications, as well as the ability to setup your phone as a webcam for your PC. The Phone Link app still exists and will remain the best way to sync text messages and notifications between your phone and PC.
Windows 11 version 24H2: Voice Clarity
Microsoft is introducing Voice Clarity, an AI powered microphone enhancement feature that will remove background noise when on a call or recording. The feature was previously exclusive to Surface PCs with NPU hardware, but will now be rolling out to all supported Windows 11 PCs without the need for a dedicated NPU chip with version 24H2.
Windows 11 version 24H2: Energy Saver
Microsoft is reworking how battery saver and power options work with version 24H2, introducing a new "Energy Saver" mode that applies to both PCs with batteries and PCs without.
The new Energy Saver mode will reduce your PC's energy consumption by reducing system performance. This should help extend battery life on laptops and reduce the power pulled from the wall on desktop PCs.
When enabled, desktop PCs will even see an energy-saver icon in the system tray, similar to the battery life indicator on laptops, just without a battery percentage. The goal of Energy Saver is to make your PC more energy efficient, reducing your carbon footprint.
Microsoft has also added more power controls to the Power & battery area in the modern Settings app. You can now set lid and power button controls and even configure when your PC enters hibernate after a set amount of time. Previously, these controls were only configurable in the classic Control Panel app.
Windows 11 version 24H2: Sudo
Version 24H2 for Windows 11 introduces support for Sudo (superuser do,) a command line first popularized on Linux. Sudo for Windows lets users run elevated processes via command line, with a number of different configuration options:
- In a new window: A new window will open in which the elevated command will run.
- With input disabled: The elevated command will run inline with its stdin closed in the window from which you’ve triggered elevation. You will not be able to interact with the elevated process.
- Inline: The elevated command will run inline in the window from which you’ve triggered elevation. This mode is most similar to the sudo experience on other platforms.
By default, the new Sudo for Windows feature will be off for security reasons, but users will be able to enable it easily in the Settings app if it's something they intend to use.
Windows 11 version 24H2: General
As always, there are general quality-of-life improvements on the way with version 24H2 as well. There's a new offline installation interface that looks a little more modern. Microsoft is also testing a new "Install drivers" button during the out-of-box experience on the Wi-Fi setup page, which will be handy for system builders to install Windows cleanly without drivers.
Microsoft is removing a number of built-in Windows apps from the OS image. Starting with this release, Cortana, Mail, Calendar, Maps, People, and Movies & TV will no longer be installed by default. WordPad will also be removed in a future update.
On the Taskbar, Microsoft has added a little Wi-Fi icon animation when connecting to a Wi-Fi network, and right-clicking the icon will now present a "Diagnose network problems" context menu shortcut for jumping right into fixing connectivity issues. The Task Manager icon has also been updated with a new design.
There's also a new "Windows protected print mode" feature that will let your PC exclusively print using the Windows modern print stack, which works with Mopria-certified printers only. These printers don't depend on third-party software installers and are supposed to "just work."
Version 24H2 will be the first to support USB80Gbps speeds, which is a major version update to the USB4 standard and will be found on new hardware launching this year.
Copilot Pro | $20 at Microsoft
Pro builds off the free version and has better performance and priority access during peak times, as well as more image creator boosts that let you create more AI-generated images in a single day. Copilot Pro also enables AI features in Office apps, something the free version doesn't have.
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