Windows 11 has changed a lot since the release of the version we reviewed in October, and Microsoft has released a steady stream of redesigned application updates, bug fixes, and UI enhancements.
However, the company’s major annual Windows updates are still important. This is where Microsoft makes the most significant changes to the look and feel of Windows 11 and the functions under the hood. This week, suggested rumors that Microsoft is completing work on what will eventually be released as Windows 11 version 22H2, the first annual operating system update. This release, currently available in the Windows Insider Beta channel with version number 22621.1, will serve as the basis for next year of Windows updates.
We cover new versions of Windows Insider quite often, depending on how noticeable the changes are. But to save you the hassle of navigating months of articles, we’ve put together all the major differences between the current public release of Windows 11 21H2 (for history, 22000.675) and the latest beta of 22H2.
The annual updates are not as old
First, a warning: Microsoft has deliberately changed the way Windows updates in the last year. The company is now releasing application updates and user interface modifications when they are ready, instead of waiting for a major annual operating system update, as it would in Windows 10 days. This more flexible timetable has already allowed Microsoft to fix some of the first flaws in Windows 11, including missing taskbar features and applications that were not yet updated with the new look and feel.
It also means that this overview will not include all the features of Windows that will be part of the 22H2 update when it is released. It is possible that applications such as the new Sound Recorder, which is previewed on the Dev channel, will be released to the public before the official release of the 22H2 update. Functions that are still being tested, such as Tabbed File Explorer, could also be done in a timely manner. These and other changes could be included in the 22H2 update, could be released before release or never to be released.
Therefore, this overview is just a snapshot of Windows 11 22H2 as it currently stands. When released to the public, we will take another look, note any other new features we see and spend more time on small changes that we will not mention in this collection.
Required sign in to a Microsoft account
The original version of Windows 11 (and some later versions of Windows 10) required an Internet connection and a Microsoft account login during installation, forcing users to integrate more deeply into the Microsoft ecosystem. There are several benefits to this process, such as automatic local disk encryption and backup key recovery, password-free access, quick access to Microsoft Store applications and services such as Microsoft 365 and PC Game Pass, and data synchronization. for applications such as OneDrive and Edge. But if you no use these things, whether you want to sign in later or prefer to stay in a good old-fashioned local account, there is no easy solution other than logging out or creating a new local account once you get to the desktop.
This did not apply to Pro versions of Windows, which would allow you to create a local account if you did not connect to the Internet during the installation. But that ends with Windows 11 version 22H2, which requires a Microsoft account regardless of the version of operating system you are using. (The installer also prompts you to sign up for PC Game Pass and Microsoft 365, which I did I think so is new in this version of Windows, but may have been added more recently).
The only officially approved exception to this policy is if you select the “work or school” option in the setting instead of the “personal use” option. This allows you to sign in to your Microsoft work or school account, if you have one, instead of a personal account. But if you just want to set up a local account or set up a computer offline, there is no easy way to do that.
This policy only applies to new Windows installations and will not affect you if you upgrade a computer that is already configured.