I’ve stated in various forums that Windows 11 will be successful, whether you like it or not — eventually. That’s because the cost/benefit analysis shifts greatly as Windows 10 gets closer to its October 14, 2025 end date (unless you are running LTSC 2021, which is supported through 2027; LTSC 2019, which is supported through 2029; or LTSC 2016, which is supported through 2026).
We know customers will do their best to not have to pay for extended security updates (which may not even be offered for Windows 10; Microsoft has not yet committed to doing so), so they will deploy Windows 11 prior to October 14, 2025. The real question is when they will make the jump.
For two types of devices, I would say that the time is “now”:
- Windows on ARM64. The improvements to add x64 emulation and “hybrid” emulation options (ARM64EC) make Windows 11 a no-brainer for anyone running Windows on ARM64 devices. The experience on Windows 10 is not great, but Windows 11 is usable (if you set your expectations appropriately, but that’s a topic for another day).
- Windows on 12th generation (or above) processors. These new processors use performance and efficiency cores, which have drastically different performance and power characteristics. The OS needs to understand what to run where, to avoid more demanding tasks from getting sent to slower cores. That’s done through a combination of Intel’s Thread Director, combined with Windows 11 knowing how to use that Thread Director information. (See this post for more on that.) Sure, you can put Windows 10 on a 12th generation device, but (a) your performance will likely suffer, and (b) your OEM might not actually support it.
For other devices (either new devices with older chips, or existing devices) still on Windows 10, it gets to be a little more interesting. The “no later than” date is clear, but what options exist? There are some rumors that 2024 will bring us a “Windows 12”-type release, but that’s not yet firm. And there have also been rumors that we won’t see a feature update in 2023, just periodic “moments” that add functionality to the existing 22H2 release. I’m going to assume that there will be both: a feature update for 23H2 (even if that just “turns on” all “moment” features and extends the support clock), and a new Windows 12/24H2 release with more significant changes. (Check out Zac Bowden’s article for more info.)
Given all of that, there are three options:
- Deploy Windows 11 22H2 during 2023. Since the Enterprise SKU of Windows 11 22H2 is (coincidentally?) supported through October 14, 2025, that would mean you would also need to deploy Windows 11 23H2, since there’s no way you could deploy Windows 12 (or Windows 11 24H2, if Microsoft decides against calling it a “new” version) before 22H2 support ends.
- Deploy Windows 11 23H2 during 2024. This Enterprise SKU would be supported through approximately October 2027, which would put you in a good position to deploy Windows 12/24H2 (in 2025) or Windows 12/25H2 (in 2026).
- Deploy Windows 12/24H2 during 2025. This generally sounds like a bad idea, especially if Microsoft tries to make a big splash in this release with significant changes. The “one year left” clock would be ticking, so any issues could put you in a bind with the impending Windows 10 end of servicing date.
The middle option, deploying Windows 11 23H2 during 2024, appears to be the best option. And maybe the first option isn’t too bad either — if 23H2 is just an enablement package. But since Microsoft doesn’t confirm things like that in advance (e.g. Windows 11 22H2 requiring a full in-place upgrade from Windows 11 21H2), it’s not something I would bet on.
And with any luck, Windows 11 23H2 will include some much-needed enhancements to help out organizations:
- Provide an easier way to get rid of the Teams consumer app — or better yet, don’t include it at all.
- Provide controls to allow organizations to prevent new “moment” functionality from just appearing on all devices. (There have been hints that this is coming.)
Any other essential changes that you think Microsoft should implement for Windows 11 23H2 (or sooner)?
So is 2023 the year of Windows 11? For kicking the tires, sure. For brand new 12th generation and ARM64 devices, yes. For everything else? Probably not. Organizations who are looking to minimize the work they need to do to keep Windows up to date are probably better off continuing on Windows 10 through 2023 (just keep deploying the enablement packages), then start deploying Windows 11 23H2 in 2024, then take a breather until 2026 for Windows 12.
Categories: Windows 11