Windows 11 24H2 officially debuts for Copilot+ PCs, and nobody else – but don’t worry, you’re not missing much

Microsoft has made Windows 11 version 24H2 available – but right now, it’s for Copilot+ PCs only, at least officially.

This means that to begin with, the 24H2 update is only being released for those specific devices, which means to begin with, Windows on Arm laptops with the new Snapdragon X (Arm-based) chips – and no other PCs.

As Windows Latest spotted, Microsoft states in its release notes: “Windows 11, version 24H2 is only available for Copilot+ PCs devices.”

However, there’s a twist in that what Microsoft means here is that 24H2 is only available in its finished version for Copilot+ PCs. These devices go on sale tomorrow (June 18), and when you fire up your Copilot+ laptop, it’ll be running 24H2 and will immediately apply KB5039239 (it’s the cumulative update for June).

Those who don’t have a Copilot+ PC can actually download and run KB5039239, but only as a Windows Insider. In other words, 24H2 is only available as a test build (26100.863) which is in the Release Preview channel.

As Windows Latest points out, though, if you do run this preview on a standard (non-Copilot+) system you may experience a rough ride in terms of bugs, more so than a normal test build (certainly one in Release Preview which is, as the name suggests, the final step before release).

Analysis: Missing out? Not really

If you're afraid that you’re missing out by not getting Windows 11 24H2, we wouldn’t worry about that. As we already noted, yes, this is only for Arm-based Copilot+ PCs, and while you can technically put the preview spin on a PC running an AMD or Intel CPU, there isn’t much in the way of new features anyway. (And the one huge feature for Copilot+ PCs, Recall, was pulled as you may remember, and put into testing for the foreseeable).

Indeed, for now, all the initial 24H2 release does is apply some bug fixes – including one to ensure games with BattlEye anti-cheat work with Windows on Arm – and security tweaks.

There is one sizable change with Copilot, though, which will become an ‘app experience’ so the desktop assistant can be treated like any app within Windows 11. In other words, you can move the Copilot window, snap or resize it and so forth – rather than having it locked to a side panel – but even that’s something you can likely wait for.

When the full release of the 24H2 update comes, likely in September if rumors are right – though it could slide until later in 2024 – there will be a lot more features on-board (though some of them will be for Copilot+ PCs only, like Recall).

So for now, you’re not really missing out on anything, and indeed this preview build returning to testing is a good sign for everyone in terms of the release timeframe of the full Windows 11 24H2 update. If you recall, the rollout and testing of the preview was paused due to various nasty bugs, and we were worried there might even be a delay to 24H2 – but with the build having its rollout resumed in the Release Preview channel, that’s a good sign that things remain on track regarding the launch schedule.

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Windows 11 24H2 update is rumored to be ready to go – but nobody will get any of its major new features anytime soon

Windows 11’s next big update just moved a step closer to fruition, perhaps, given a rumor that Microsoft has just pushed out a new preview update that represents the 24H2 release.

The 24H2 update is due later this year, most likely in September, but the twist is it’s expected to initially arrive – in a slightly different form for certain devices (we’ll come back to exactly what we mean here) – around the middle of 2024.

The preview version of Windows 11 we’re talking about is build 26100 and we’re told by reliable leaker Zac Bowden (of Windows Central) that this is the RTM build for the 24H2 update (which Bowden predicted would arrive in April).

RTM means 'release to manufacturing' and it translates, as the name suggests, to mean this is effectively a finished product – with caveats that we’ll come back to shortly – that Microsoft is sending out to PC manufacturers to put on their devices (and test before that hardware hits the shelves).

Some PC makers may have received this RTM build already, or they are about to. In short, this is a positive sign that Windows 11 24H2 is progressing on track with its purported release schedule as aired via the grapevine.

Analysis: A new two-tier update process from Microsoft

The mentioned caveat-laden twist is that this initial hardware in question is AI PCs with Snapdragon X Elite chips, which are based on ARM architecture (quite different to AMD or Intel x86 CPUs). Because these Snapdragon chips are different to the general norm they need the new Germanium platform that Windows 11 24H2 is built on to work, so Microsoft is technically deploying the new version of the OS with these AI PCs which are expected to debut in June.

However, that particular Windows 11 24H2 build won’t have any of the new features touted for the next big upgrade. It’s just going to be much the same as what we have now with Windows 11, just with that new underpinning Germanium platform for ARM-based chips.

Microsoft will finalize the fully fleshed out 24H2 update, with all its new features added on top, in July; or that’s the predicted timeframe by Bowden. And then after final testing, the full 24H2 update will roll out to everyone on Windows 11 in September. Including those Snapdragon X Elite PCs, of course, who won’t get all the new features until everyone else is receiving them.

Hopefully we’ve made that clear enough. But it’s true that this is all rather more complex and convoluted than the usual straightforward deployment of a Windows annual feature update.

The long and short of it is that things appear to be on track, but nobody will get the full Windows 11 24H2 update until September 2024 (or around then). And while new AI PC buyers this summer will get a Snapdragon-powered laptop with 24H2 on board, this will be just the skeleton of that version, as it were, and all the meat (new features) won’t be added until everyone else receives the update in September(ish).

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Windows 11 gets a cool new look for a feature everyone uses – but nobody loves

Windows 11 has got a new preview build which comes with a whole lot of work on the interface, and other tweaks besides.

The most significant introduction with preview build 23493 (in the Dev channel), mind you, is the rollout of Windows Copilot – which we cover in-depth here – but there’s also a new home page for Settings, and a revamped volume mixer.

The home page for the Settings app provides an overview of the status of various bits and bobs pertaining to your PC – for example, cloud storage used (in OneDrive), and messages about your Microsoft Account (relating to security, as shown in Microsoft’s example, where you’re reminded to add a recovery email address).

The home page is actually divided into different ‘cards’ (panels), and the most important cards we see in this first take on the idea are Personalization and Recommended Settings.

The Personalization card provides easy access to basic customization options for Windows 11, a useful touch. But the real prize here is those recommended settings, which intelligently present changes based on “your specific usage patterns”, saving you time by allowing you to apply commonly used (or recently used) settings right on the home page when needed.

Windows 11 Settings Home Page

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Moving on to the revamped volume mixer (accessed via the system tray, far-right of the taskbar), this offers the ability to not just swiftly adjust the volume, but you can do so on a per-app basis.

The new mixer panel also allows you to quickly swap your output device, plus options for switching Spatial Audio formats are provided here too. On top of that, Microsoft has implemented a new keyboard shortcut to bring the mixer straight up (Windows key + CTRL + V).

Preview build 23493 also expands support for compressed file formats (not just ZIP, but also RAR, TAR, 7-Zip, and much more – this was a much-wanted tweak Microsoft announced last month, you may recall). Furthermore, Microsoft says it has improved the performance of archiving files in Windows 11, so you should see this happen faster.

There are a bunch of other changes in this preview version, all detailed in Microsoft’s blog post. Another notable one is making Snap Layout suggestions, where recommended window layout options are presented to the user complete with app icons to show which programs will go where.

Analysis: Ready, Settings, Go!

That Recommended Settings card looks like a big benefit for Windows 11 users, and should mean you have to take fewer trips deep into the cogs and machinery of the Settings subpages to make any necessary adjustments to the OS.

Nobody likes having to search around in Settings, as it can be a head-scratching affair trying to find what you need, and on-tap suggestions based on your previous usage of Windows 11 should be very handy.

On top of that, we have Windows Copilot coming in to make performing changes and switching on features in Windows 11 a far easier process, so between these two new elements of the interface, the operating system should be much improved when it comes to tweaking settings.

The volume mixer overhaul is a nice addition to boot. Want to turn down the volume for just your browser? That’s now possible with the per-app volume controls, and the new panel also makes it very easy to configure some important settings, like the chosen output speaker, and that’s just more added convenience.

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