Microsoft: Windows 11 will get new features on a more regular basis going forward

Windows 11 Update Windowsupdate Estimate New Dark
Windows 11 Update Windowsupdate Estimate New Dark (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows 11 is going to get regular feature updates going forward.
  • These features can arrive whenever they are ready, outside of major OS releases.
  • It starts today with the introduction of new Taskbar features and Android app support.

Microsoft has today announced that it intends to begin shipping new Windows 11 features to users on a much more regular basis as it commits to feature drops similar to the one that just began rolling out today. No longer will new features be tied to major OS releases, instead shipping as smaller cumulative style updates via Windows Update at any given time once Microsoft deems a feature ready for prime time.

The announcement was made by Chief Product Officer Panos Panay, who said:

As today's release shows, we're committed to delivering experiences into Windows 11 that enrich and inspire people's lives. Overtime, you'll see us release new features into Windows 11 for end users more frequently in addition to our annual update. We will leverage the variety of update mechanisms we have in place including servicing and Microsoft Store updates. Our goal is to deliver continuous innovation, providing you with the best experiences year-round.

This is a huge shift for Windows, though one that has been in the works for some time. Microsoft had tested the waters with shipping new features outside of major updates last year with the introduction of the "News and interests" Taskbar feature on Windows 10. Now, Microsoft is ready to make these feature drops an official, regular thing.

This means that features that show up in the Windows Insider Dev or Beta Channels could begin shipping on Windows 11 at any time. Once Microsoft gathers enough feedback and ensures the feature is stable, it can prepare it for release in just a few months, rather than waiting an entire year for the next major OS release.

On that subject, Microsoft is still committing to one major feature update a year. The next one is currently in development and is scheduled to begin rolling out sometime in the second half of this year. Some features will be saved for the major releases, but many of them can now roll out on the existing shipping version if Microsoft see's fit.

So, even though Microsoft scaled back its OS releases to one a year with the launch of Windows 11, it is looking like users are going to be getting more features quicker overall. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Only time will tell. For now, the first Windows 11 feature drop is rolling out now, and it includes improvements to the Taskbar and the introduction of Android app support.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • "Our goal is to deliver continuous innovation, providing you with the best experiences year-round." Call me when you scrap the garbage that is Windows 11 and do a 180º with Windows 12, Microsoft. 'cause until then, you'l just be trying to disguise a **** by adding ribbons to it. The entire UI concept of Windows 11 is a disaster from the design and UX points of view. There's no salvaging that without a new version of the OS.
  • Because your view is the only view, apparently. Feel free to go to Linux or Mac if you're not happy with your user experience.
  • There are more people who think like that, apparently. I don't want to go to linux and even less likely go to mac. If MS is FU^*&^*ing up does not mean that you leave windows. I just don't like the pile off S^%&^%^&%&it that is win11; I'm very happy with my user experience with a very fine tuned win10pro 21/H2 19044.1566 for at least till win11 22/h2. There are more comments below ;)
  • When I first looked at it, I thought, this is nice, a nice new look, and then I started using it and that is when I stopped the is nice thought :)
  • They should have simply updated the Windows 10 Start Menu with the new UI. The UX was good already, and the new menu is a step down.
  • Yep, I agree as long as they kept the facilities the same.
  • Thank you Jony Ive.
  • Fix the existing features first before you roll out new ones.
  • It would be a good idea if they sorted out bugs, like the file explorer freezing and the task bar moving between screens or stuff just vanishing under the task bar.
    Also, if they are adding features all the time, that is one good reason to stay away from Windows 11.
  • So goes the Neverending commitment to a release cycle that dies after 1-2 years. It seems like not long ago that Windows 10 moved from 2 big releases to 1. Windows 10 was "the last version of Windows." Now, they're on top s another version, with random drops of features whenever. This should go well with the "release it half-finished and let the user base be quality assurance" philosophy that MS now uses.
  • These out-of-band update drops are a bad idea since historically these things wind up blue-screening many systems. It sucks to be one of the unlucky ones who receive the 'A rare condition caused' note and then get to perform the requisite acrobatics to recover one's system a week or two later. Agree they should release if there isn't a compelling reason to hold them, but do it through a regression tested "Patch Tuesday" release. I know it is not the Agile go-fast-break-things model, but I really don't want my system broken for stupid reasons. Now the safety is off so what is safe?
  • People should do back-ups of their computers, easy enough to make an image of Windows these days, with plenty of free software to do it and external drives are cheap enough. I thought in this day and age people would back up more, but I still know of people who don't and then they complain when they lose files.
  • The comment isn't about the loss of files, it is about the loss of the system. Few people I know will jump on the reimage train on day one or two, they'll grumble and wait for MS to provide a solution. After a week, it gets reconsidered. If I was in a place where I had to reimage today, I'd blow away W11 and go back to W10, reinstall apps and restore my data. That is accepting hours of my time wasted to get back to a quasi-working state and I value my time.