Microsoft begins forced updates to Windows 11 23H2 — targets PCs running 21H2 and 22H2

Microsoft has a history of forcing PCs to use newer versions of Windows under certain circumstances. While a segment of the Windows 11 install base would prefer to control their own destiny regarding operating system updates, Microsoft wants to ensure that a significant portion of users are running recent builds of Windows 11. Such is the case with Windows 11 23H2, which is entering a broader rollout phase.

Microsoft explained in a support document that it will automatically update “eligible” devices to Windows 11 23H2. “This automatic update targets Windows 11 devices that have reached or are approaching end of servicing,” Microsoft stated. 

In this case, the automatic updates to 23H2 will target systems currently running Windows 11 21H2 and 22H2. Windows 11 21H2 reach its end of life (EOL) on October 10, 2023, while Windows 11 22H2 will face its EOL on October 8, 2024. Those EOL dates are when Microsoft will stop delivering security updates and other improvements to those builds.

It might be annoying to have a new build forced on you, but Microsoft has previously stated that its actions are by design. 

“To help keep you protected and productive, Windows Update will automatically initiate a feature update for Windows 11 consumer devices and non-managed business devices that are at, or within several months of reaching, end of servicing,” Microsoft explained in October 2023. “This keeps your device supported and receiving monthly updates that are critical to security and ecosystem health.”

Automatic updates to Windows 11 23H2 will begin in phases using machine learning-based training. Microsoft is using this approach to identify and target systems with hardware most compatible with the new release, to reduce customer issues. Systems with known hardware incompatibilities will be pushed to the back of the update line, to allow for software/driver updates to address outstanding issues. Microsoft has been using this ML-based approach for a while — including when it started rolling out Windows 11 to eligible PCs running Windows 10.

Microsoft initiated a “scoped, cumulative release” of Windows 11 23H2 in October 2023. It’s by no means a comprehensive update for the operating system, but it brings changes to app management, introduces Windows Display Driver Model 3.2, and adds a built-in chat tool for Microsoft Teams.

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