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Windows 11 22H2 goes gold; ready to ship later this year

Microsoft announced the final build for Windows 11 22H2 is now available through its beta channel, enabling IT shops to test it on qualified systems before it's shipped later this year.

Microsoft has said the final version of Windows 11 22H2 has been released to its Insider channel, signifying that the shipping version, or released to manufacturing (RTM), will be generally available later this year.

In the meantime, corporate IT departments can get a jump on testing out the final version — Build 22621 — from the Windows Insider Preview Downloads website and begin validating it on systems with the proper hardware requirements.

Commercial devices enrolled in the Windows Insider Program for Business within the Release Preview Channel will automatically be offered Windows 11 22H2 as an optional update. Non-commercial Windows Insider devices can manually seek out Build 22621 via Settings Windows Update.

Once an Insider channel subscriber updates a PC to version 22H2, it will continue to automatically receive new servicing updates through Windows Update (the typical monthly update process). Microsoft provides instructions on how to join the Windows Insider Program and join a PC to the Release Preview Channel.

In addition to commercial pre-release availability, Microsoft is also offering free support for commercial organisations running the build, meaning IT shops can test the release, and their preferred deployment methods, while continuing to get support prior to general availability. Microsoft has not specified when the next version of Windows 11 will arrive, though major updates have traditionally rolled out in October or November.

In recent months, Windows 11 adoption rates have tapered off to a trickle, according to recent data from computer monitoring software provider AdDuplex and others.

Released in October 2021, Windows 11 reached an “overall usage” of 19.7 per cent in April, an increase of more than 10 per cent since the beginning of December 2021. An additional 0.6 per cent of users are on a Windows 11 Insider build, according to the latest data from AdDuplex.

The usage share of Windows 11 grew by less than 0.4 per cent in April. That's on top of less than 0.2 per cent growth in March, according to AdDuplex. While Windows 11 isn't growing, Windows 10 21H2 added another 6.5 per cent.

Microsoft has pushed to get users to upgrade to Windows 11, but the overwhelming majority have chosen to remain on the previous edition, which will continue to receive support until 2025.

Of the 80 per cent using Windows 10, the largest number of users are on the two most recent updates, Windows 10 N21U (21H2), released in November 2021 (28.5 per cent) and Windows 10 M21U (21H1), released in March 2021, (26.5 per cent). The remaining 25 per cent are on five older iterations of Windows 10.

“For the most part, commercial customers are not really diving into the new OS, and we don’t expect to see much uptake there until 2023,” Steve Kleynhans, a vice president of research at Gartner, said in an earlier interview with Computerworld.

“For most consumers who aren’t PC enthusiasts in some way, this is not really a high priority, and they won’t actively seek out the upgrade," he said. "Until Microsoft starts forcing the upgrade, or at least more aggressively marketing it to users on eligible machines, things are bound to stall out a bit. I suspect we will see Microsoft start marketing the update more aggressively over the next few months and really start to push it in the fall."

For its part, Microsoft said it has seen strong demand for Windows 11 with people accepting the upgrade offer to the OS at twice the rate the company saw for Windows 10, according to a January blog post by Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer for Windows and Devices.