Windows 11 is getting the first feature update today, which Microsoft also simply calls the “2022 Update”. Installation is optional until further notice.
The first feature update for Windows 11 brings some new features and is now available in Windows Update on systems with Windows 11 installed. Until further notice, this is an optional update that can be downloaded to the computer by clicking on “Download and install”. As with Windows 10, it should not be offered to all systems at once, but first to those that only have common hardware and software – and are therefore considered to be easy to update.
Microsoft announced the availability in a blog post. Version 22H2 is also available in the usual other ways, or should be available shortly: via WSUS and Windows Update for Business, as an ISO file and upgrade via Media Creation Tool, and as an ISO in the Volume Licensing Service Center (VSLC) for major customers and for Visual Studio (formerly MSDN) subscribers.
As you already know from function updates for Windows 10, this update also brings one or two innovations in terms of appearance and operation. Microsoft made most of it available to participants in the “Windows Insider” beta test program about six months ago. Windows can now be conveniently fitted into screen sections via touch operation (“snap layouts”), and app icons can be sorted into folders in the start menu.
Visual details have also been refined here and there – the volume control overlay has been adapted to the current look, OneDrive users can see the level in Explorer and the File Explorer start page, previously called “Quick Access”, has received an update. It is now called “Start” and, in addition to your own file folders and recently used documents, also shows documents and other files that you have pinned there for faster access.
It is foreseeable that 22H2 will not silence the criticism of Windows 11. The rigid system requirements have not changed, and the taskbar hasn’t yet been given the long-awaited option of not grouping the icons of open programs. When it comes to Microsoft accounts, the 2022 edition of Windows 11 will be even stricter: In the future, logging in with one will not only be mandatory in the Home Edition, but also in Windows 11 Pro. After all, you can still bypass this by typing in “Microsoft” as the username and something as the password.
Something is also happening in the area of security, as Microsoft explains in a separate blog post on the subject of security. With version 22H2, “Virtualization-based security” should be active by default on all devices that meet the official system requirements. In addition, drivers with known security gaps are blacklisted.
The new “Smart App Control” feature is an attempt to address the problems of classic virus monitors. It prevents the start of programs that are not (yet) known to be trustworthy. The signatures are updated regularly. We have already observed this: The Copy Dialog Lunar Lander, a mini app with which you can play the classic Lunar Lander in the copy speed graphics, was initially blocked, but was allowed a few days later: the small program had meanwhile been found to be harmlessly proven. In the end, the function should be a slightly more intelligent version of S mode – with the difference that not only apps from the store are allowed.
Smart App Control is initially in a learning mode in which it analyzes what software is used on the PC. If, as a developer or power user, you use many programs with which the function cannot do anything, it should be deactivated irrevocably so that it does not constantly get in the way in everyday life. However, if Windows recognizes that only a few different and very frequent programs are used, it activates the function. If that bothers you, you can turn it off at any time – but if you want to enable it again, a clean reinstallation or a reset of the installation is required.
Bite by bite
Although some of the functions are already in version 22H2, they should only be activated in October. An example of this is the file explorer, which after what feels like an eternity is finally getting tabs. As usual in web browsers, they can be opened with Ctrl+T and closed with Ctrl+W.
For this type of function rollout, Microsoft uses the same mechanism that has been used for the rather small-scale function updates of Windows 10 for a few years. New functions are built into the system using cumulative updates, but are only activated with a small “enablement package”. Microsoft is likely to use this method more often in the future.