I find myself wondering why a major Windows 11 update wasn’t released as Windows 11.1 or Windows 11.2 every time I see one. Rather than employing a straightforward approach like point releases, Microsoft has been naming Windows updates in a confusing variety of ways in recent years.
Allow me to clarify what I mean:
- Windows 10 Anniversary Update
- Windows 10 Creators Update
- Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
- Windows 10 October 2020 Update
- Windows 10 May 2021 Update
- Windows 11 22H2
- Windows 11 2023 Update
As you can see, Microsoft is progressively adopting a more comprehensible naming scheme for its Windows releases, although it still frequently utilizes 22H2 and 23H2 monikers, which appear to the general public to be strange codenames. You may also probably come across references to 23H2 if you go into Windows Update. In fact, the Windows about screen identifies 23H2 as the current version of Windows 11.
I don’t know exactly why Microsoft isn’t utilizing point releases for Windows anymore. Although Windows 8 received its own update, Windows 8.1, it never saw official point releases, such as Windows 8.1.1 or 8.1.2. Then came Windows 10, a bewildering jumble of internal naming conventions and marketing that frequently made no sense.
A number of sources informed me a few years ago that Microsoft considered naming their upgrades after individuals or animals, but they eventually decided against it for a number of reasons, including the fact that you don’t want an operating system named after a nasty person. Microsoft opted to use monthly titles instead of point releases, but now that Windows 11 has received numerous significant improvements in 2023 alone, we’re back to yearly names that don’t actually represent anything.
Apple continues to name macOS updates after locales, while it uses point releases for iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS quite successfully. I can quickly and accurately determine what version of iOS a family member is running on their iPhone and troubleshoot their device with ease. The 23H2 version number on Windows doesn’t really tell me anything because there are recurring monthly upgrades that can bring more functionality. To find out what was included, it’s also much simpler to Google “Windows 11.1” rather than “Windows 11 2023 Update November update” or “Windows 23H2 November features.”
Just have a peek at Microsoft’s update history page for Windows 11; it has a mixture of OS build numbers and KB numbers. Upon examining Apple’s list of iOS 17 updates, it becomes apparent that iOS 17.1.1 is the most recent version. The OS builds 22621.2715 and 22631.2715, which Microsoft lists, have little significance for actual people. Try comparing those builds to the two-week-apart releases of 22621.2506 and 22631.2506; good luck.
Additionally, Microsoft has a lengthy history of naming its Windows operating systems incorrectly while selling them. Earlier this month, Microsoft’s head of contemporary work and business applications, Jared Spataro, made a joke about the name of Windows. “We haven’t always been good at simplicity and naming,” Spataro said in reference to the Bing Chat rebranding as Copilot. Does anyone else recall the 64-bit Extended Systems version of Windows XP? Simply glides off the tongue,” he made a joke.
It could be far worse, though. It may surprise you to learn that Microsoft once shipped a product dubbed “Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Phone Edition” and even introduced Windows Phone as “Windows Phone 7.1 Series” before soon discontinuing the Series component. We may still have some time before things improve, given the Windows Mobile naming history spans at least 15 years with many brand names.
We can only hope that Windows 12, or whatever name Microsoft decides to give it, will bring back point releases or make it simple and obvious to determine which version of Windows is currently installed. Until then, good luck on Thanksgiving helping your relative with their Windows laptop. Oh, and while you’re at it, remember to disable motion smoothing on the TV for your family.