If you've been holding off Windows 11, version 21H2, Microsoft says it's now safe for everyone to install if their hardware is up to it.
Microsoft recently updated its Windows release health dashboard to declare "Windows 11 is designated for broad deployment", signaling the go-ahead for more people to upgrade, so long as the hardware meets Microsoft's requirements for Windows 11.
The milestone comes about seven months after Windows 11's official release on October 5, 2021 and Microsoft's shift to annual feature releases. Microsoft announced Windows 11 in June.
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To upgrade to Windows 11, consumers need to be on Windows 10, version 2004 (support ended for this version in December) or later, and have no safeguard holds in place preventing the upgrade.
Microsoft will release the first Windows 11 feature update in the second half of 2022. Windows 11 comes with 24 months of support for Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro Education editions, while Enterprise and Education editions get 36 months of support.
Windows 10 21H2 was released in November 2021 and will also be updated annually until all Windows 10 support ends in October 2025. Microsoft designated 21H2 ready for broad deployment in April 2022.
Microsoft hasn't disclosed how many PCs are on Windows 11. Microsoft in March 2021 said there were 1.3 billion Windows 10 devices. In April this year, with 1.4 billion active Windows PCs, it declared the PC has 'never been more relevant'.
Microsoft has been gradually rolling out Windows 11 automatically to consumers via Windows Update since October but typically waits a few months before declaring a new Windows feature release ready for broad deployment in the enterprise.
New features that come with Windows 11 include the work-in-progress Windows Subsystem for Android, the Taskbar-related widgets pane, tighter Teams integration with Windows 11, and Windows File Explorer tabs. Edge has also replaced Internet Explorer. Microsoft continues to experiment with new ideas in Windows 11, such as a Bing-powered search box in the latest Dev channel preview.
For the new hybrid enterprise, Microsoft recently flagged a host of Windows 365/Cloud PC integrations with Windows 11, which are slated for general availability this month. In February, it began testing Windows Hello for Business Cloud Trust, enabling improved sign-on and FIDO security key support for hybrid deployments of Windows Hello for business.
Microsoft designation of Windows 11 as ready for broad deployment might get more enterprise customers across the line for the upgrade. Microsoft in April revealed it took just five weeks to rollout 190,000 of its own PCs to Windows 11. Of course, it only upgraded PCs that met Windows 11 system requirements, but the company also explained how admins could automate the exclusion of PCs from the upgrade, as well as employee opt-out processes and Windows 10 rollback options.