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We've only just received the Moment 3 update for Windows 11, but version 23H2, the big annual update, is only a couple of months away. As it turns out, while the update is expected to bring some big new features, it will be a pretty small download for users running Windows 11 version 22H2, as Microsoft has announced it will be an enablement package. When the time comes, your PC will simply download a configuration file that enables all the new features that are included in Windows 11 version 23H2.

If you're wondering how this is possible, it's actually nothing too new. Microsoft has been using enablement packages for a while, specifically with Windows 10 since version 20H2. The way that it works is that Microsoft is able to deliver a large set of new features through normal cumulative updates, which roll out every month with security patches and other fixes. A lot of the features that are planned for Windows 11 version 23H2 are already in the same code base as Windows 11 version 22H2, but they're disabled until they're fully finished. As such, when the time comes for a big update like Windows 11 version 23H2, all Microsoft needs to do is send over a file that enables all of these hidden features, like Windows Copilot.

Windows 365 copilot in Edge
Credit: Microsoft

There are two big benefits to this approach. One is that the update is that, as Microsoft notes, very small to download and install when it officially launches, so users no longer have to worry about waiting over an hour to install a feature update, as used to be the case a few years back. The other is that it means both Windows 11 version 22H2 and 23H2 have the same code base, and as such, are exactly the same in terms of compatibility with apps and devices. If you want the latest updates but you're worried about breaking something, these enablement packages are great news since everything will work just as well as it used to. This is likely also why Microsoft recently announced that customers waiting for an LTSC version of Windows 11 can begin testing compatibility based on Windows 11 version 22H2. Nothing will change with the next update on this front.

For Microsoft, this approach also means it can deploy cumulative updates that apply to both version 22H2 and 23H2 at the same time, without needing to build updates separately for each version. It makes it easier to keep devices updated and secure.

As for what Windows 11 version 23H2 will add, there's quite a bit. We're expecting AI to be a big highlight with Windows Copilot, but there are also things like Dynamic Lighting for your RGB peripherals, a redesigned File Explorer, and more. All of these features are dormant right now (some may not be rolled out yet), but they will be enabled when the time comes.