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Microsoft Reviews Windows 11 and Windows 10 IoT Changes

Microsoft this week provided details on the next Windows 11 release, and gave notice about a coming sales venue expansion for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise users, in an announcement.

First, Microsoft noted that Windows 11 version 23H2 will arrive this year, bolstered by an "enablement package." Also, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC (long-term servicing channel) will be available next month via a new sales tract, namely Volume Licensing.

Windows 11 Version 23H2
Microsoft's next release of Windows 11, namely version 23H2, will be arriving in Q4 of this year. Its features weren't described, but it notably will be upgradable from the prior version (version 22H2) via a "small enablement package," Microsoft indicated.

The use of an enablement package means that some of the bits for the Windows 11 version 23H2 feature upgrade are already on a PC that uses Windows 11 version 22H2, reducing the upgrade's size.

"If you're running Windows 11, version 22H2, it will be a simple update to version 23H2 via a small enablement package (eKB)," Microsoft announcement noted. The same source code gets used, so "you don't need to worry about application or device compatibility between the versions."

"Don't wait for Windows 11, version 23H2," Microsoft added. Organizations can roll out Windows 11 version 22H2 and then subsequently deploy the enablement package via "Windows Server Updates Services," "Windows Update for Business" or "Windows Autopatch."

The "don't wait" message was echoed by former long-time Microsoft employee and Windows deployment expert Michael Niehaus (now with Tanium) in a July 13 blog post.

Niehaus had previously advocated evaluating Windows 11 for deployment in October 2023 to be "fully deployed before the October 2025 end of servicing for Windows 10." That schedule might avoid upgrade surprises (like a rumored Windows 12 release). However, with Microsoft's confirmation of enablement package support in version 23H2, "there's really no need to wait" as a future upgrade will be "trivial," Niehaus suggested.

Organizations still could face stumbling blocks with Windows 11's hardware requirements, though. Niehaus also rued the difficulty in removing the "in-box consumer Teams app."

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC via Volume Licensing
Previously, organizations wanting to use Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC had to get the licensing through an original equipment vendor (OEM). However, Microsoft plans to additionally offer it "through Volume Licensing starting August 1st," per an announcement this week.

However, this operating system for Internet of Things devices is only supposed to be used by organizations needing "the longer 10-year lifecycle of Windows 10 for devices specifically used in IoT scenarios," and it's only for those organizations that do not buy the specialized devices offered by OEMs.

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC is just supposed to be used in "industrial use scenarios," Microsoft cautioned. It's not to be used in "knowledge worker scenarios."

Windows 11 Emerging New Features
Microsoft also this week summarized Windows 11 changes that are getting previewed in Windows Insider Program test releases.

The AI-based Windows Copilot preview is already available for those Windows Insider Program testers in the Dev Channel with Windows 11 preview build 23493. Microsoft also is previewing a new notice for VPN users. Users will see a VPN icon when they are connected.

The announcement summarizing coming Windows 11 changes also touted the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 with 5G device as "our first device to include the next generation 'root of trust' technology" using Microsoft's own Pluton security processor. The Surface Pro 9 with 5G device also has a "built-in NPU" (Neural Processing Unit), which helps improve Windows Studio audio, voice focus and camera framing. The NPU also makes it possible for users to "run their own AI models via the ONNX runtime."

Windows 11 Test Builds Adding Rust Support and More
Microsoft also announced Windows 11 test builds for Windows Insider Program testers this week, describing various emerging features.

The Canary Channel release (build 25905) of Windows 11 notably is adding Rust language support in the Windows kernel for some testers. "Rust offers advantages in reliability and security over traditional programs written in C/C++," Microsoft noted.

Other features in the Canary Channel of Windows 11 include "Dev Drive, Backup and Restore improvements (Windows Backup), Dynamic Lighting, the Windows App SDK version of File Explorer and Gallery, and more." Dev Drive is the storage service for Dev Home, a new hub for developers that was announced back in May.

There's also a new "Windows Update recovery feature" in the Windows 11 Canary build that "will download and install a repair version of the OS."

The Canary Build of Windows 11 is addressing an issue with the Windows Local Administrator Password Solution's "Post Authentication Actions feature." Specific processes "launched in an OTS (over-the-shoulder) elevation scenario" couldn't be ended with the Post Authentication Actions feature, Microsoft explained.

Microsoft also described Windows 11 Beta Channel features for Windows Insider Program testers in this announcement. It described a new Gallery feature in Windows 11's File Explorer. The Gallery feature displays a collection of photos much like the "All Photos view in the Photos app." It'll work with OneDrive's Camera Roll Backup.

Windows Autopatch Perks
Windows Autopatch for Windows 10 or Windows 11 Enterprise E3/E5 subscribers will get new features on July 25, according to a Microsoft announcement.

Microsoft will add a Groups enhancement to better support the configurations used by organizations. Also coming on July 25 will be "custom deployment rings," enabling devices to be "assigned dynamically or directly to rings."

Many more coming Windows Autopatch improvements can be found in Microsoft's announcement.

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