As an avid Windows user, you may have heard rumblings about a major update coming later this year codenamed Windows 11 22H2. But what exactly does this update contain, and should you care?
As a technology analyst who has used every version of Windows extensively, let me walk you through everything I‘ve learned about Windows 11 22H2 as an early preview tester. My goal is to provide helpful insights so you can decide if upgrading is worthwhile.
What Exactly is Windows 11 22H2?
First, let‘s quickly recap what we know about Windows 11 22H2:
- Official Name: Version 22H2, Build 22621
- Code Name: Sun Valley 2
- Expected Release: September/October 2022
- Availability: Free upgrade for Windows 11 users
- Main Highlights: Start menu changes, Task Manager overhaul, File Explorer improvements, new snap layouts, and accessibility upgrades.
Windows 11 22H2 isn’t a massive overhaul, but rather a refinement release. As this is the first major update to Windows 11, it focuses on fine tuning the user experience based on feedback while also pushing helpful new capabilities.
Don’t expect a radically different look and feel, but do expect a lot of thoughtful tuning and additions.
New Features – Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary
In my testing as a Windows Insider, the Windows 11 22H2 preview does indeed feel more evolutionary than revolutionary. But the changes provide meaningful productivity boosts once you dive in.
Here are the most important new features and capabilities:
Revamped Start Menu Offers More Control
The Windows Start menu sees subtle but helpful improvements. There are now toggles to control the mix of pinned apps vs Microsoft’s “recommended” apps.
You have options to show more pinned apps, more recommendations, or the default moderate mix. I really like this enhanced customizability. The Start menu feels less imposed upon, yet still surfaces apps Microsoft thinks you’ll find useful.
Task Manager Gets a Modern Facelift
The Windows Task Manager has looked dated for years. Windows 11 22H2 finally brings it into 2022 with a cleaner, more visualized interface.
Helpful upgrades include:
- Tabs for easy navigation between categories
- Improved charts for visualizing resource utilization
- Dark mode support for less eye strain
- Better search for finding processes quickly
- Options to limit resource usage
As someone who monitors system resources closely, I find the redesign much more usable and appealing.
File Explorer Becomes More Modern and Practical
For me personally, the File Explorer changes are the most exciting aspect of Windows 11 22H2. The File Explorer we‘ve been using hasn‘t changed much in over a decade.
This update transforms it with tabs, a customizable home page, and visual refinements.
Tabs enable browsing multiple folders within one File Explorer window – similar to working in a web browser. The updated home page highlights commonly used files and recent activities.
Navigating between frequent folders and searches feels much faster now. The interface also gets modernized with things like rounded corners and animated transitions.
Snap Layouts Supercharge Window Management
Windows 11 22H2 takes window snapping to new levels with snap layouts. Dragging a window into the top zone reveals predefined layouts for snapping apps side-by-side or stacked vertically.
It makes utilizing both my Ultrawide monitor and laptop screen for productivity much easier. This feature reflects the growing need to manage multiple app windows efficiently.
Focus on Accessibility
Windows has offered basic accessibility tools for years, but Windows 11 22H2 steps it up significantly.
New capabilities include:
- Live captions – Automatically generates real-time subtitles for speech in videos, meeting, or conversations. Extremely useful technology.
- Improved Narrator – More natural voices and reading modes for navigating Windows without a monitor.
- Voice access – Control Windows hands-free using voice commands for accessibility.
I love seeing Microsoft prioritize inclusion and work relentlessly on empowering people through technology.
Looking beyond the major features, there are many smaller refinements across the Windows 11 interface in this update. A few that stood out during my testing:
- Updated media controls with better notifications integration
- More consistent adoption of rounded corners across apps
- Enhanced animations and transitions for snappier feel
- Support for smarter HDR on built-in apps and games
- Improved search with web image integration
- Better snap assist when using multiple windows
Individually these changes are small. But together they notably polish and modernize the user experience in meaningful ways.
Gaming and Security Also See Notable Upgrades
While not its traditional focus, Windows remains a popular platform for PC gaming. Windows 11 22H2 brings helpful improvements on this front.
Optimized GPU performance, expanded Auto HDR support, and improved controller connectivity provide a better gaming experience. As a casual gamer myself, features like Auto HDR make older games look great even on new monitors.
On the security side, Windows 11 22H2 hardens the OS against threats through:
- Smart App Control – Uses AI to block untrusted executables and scripts
- Stronger memory integrity – Prevents unauthorized access to low level OS functions
- Enhanced phishing identification in Edge browser
Security is an arms race against increasingly sophisticated attacks. These protections will help protect 400 million Windows 11 users.
Should You Upgrade When Windows 11 22H2 Launches?
Based on your current setup and needs, here is my advice on whether to upgrade when Windows 11 22H2 releases later this year:
|Using Windows 10 without major issues
|Yes – the refinements are worthwhile
|Using Windows 11 already
|Absolutely – it‘s a free update that improves the experience
|Require cutting-edge DirectX 12 Ultimate GPU features
|Yes – you need Windows 11
|Have an older PC
|Maybe – check hardware compatibility first
|Primarily use macOS or Linux
|No – no need to switch operating systems
The accessibility upgrades, visual polish, Task Manager improvements, and especially the File Explorer enhancements make this a compelling update for most.
For Windows 10 users who rely on a workflow not fully compatible with Windows 11 yet, waiting until next year to upgrade may be prudent. But jumping to Windows 11 22H2 should be smooth for most.
And as always, remember to back up your critical files before making any major OS change!
The Future is Exciting for Windows Users
With Windows 11, Microsoft has kicked off a new era of rapid Windows innovation. I‘m excited to see them revitalize Windows after the slower pace of improvements during the Windows 10 lifespan.
Windows 11 22H2 is just the first of yearly feature drops we can expect that tune and enhance the platform. Looking ahead, Microsoft is focused on boosting productivity further with advances in AI, new hybrid work capabilities, developer platform improvements, and more.
As someone who depends on Windows daily, I welcome Microsoft renewing their focus on evolving Windows to meet the needs of modern users. The path forward looks bright, and Windows 11 22H2 provides a glimpse at the new capabilities coming down the pipeline.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m happy to chat more about preparing for the upgrade, new features I‘m testing early, and the future of Windows.