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article imageMicrosoft says Windows 10's next big update won't be until spring

By James Walker     Aug 5, 2016 in Technology
After launching the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft has announced there will be no further feature updates for the operating system this year. Instead, it's planning two major releases for 2017 that will add new capabilities to the OS.
The Anniversary Update is the second major public update for Windows 10 since its launch a year ago. The first release came in November, four months after Windows 10 became publicly available.
With the Anniversary Update coming almost exactly a year after the operating system's launch, Microsoft appeared likely to follow the same upgrade cadence into the next year as it has through the past twelve months. This would mean the development of another substantial feature update to be released this November.
In a blog post on its TechNet development site, Microsoft confirmed there will be no November update this year. It is moving its Windows release cycle so there are two public updates per calendar year, in place of the current two per 12-month period. It cited feedback from businesses as the primary reason for the change.
"Windows 10, version 1607 is our third Windows 10 feature update released," Microsoft said. "Based on feedback from organizations moving to Windows 10, this will be our last feature update for 2016, with two additional feature updates expected in 2017."
The "additional feature updates" referenced are believed to be in development under the codenames Redstone 2 and Redstone 3. According to recent reports, Redstone 2 will launch in early 2017, taking the place of last year's November update. It will be followed in the late summer by Redstone 3. Going forward into 2018 and beyond, it is thought Microsoft will continue to use this winter and summer structure for public updates to Windows 10 consumer editions.
What Microsoft has planned for the contents of next year's Redstone updates isn't currently known. Redstone 2 is said to be the more substantial release at present. The summer update will focus on refining and extending the new features and capabilities introduced earlier in the year, much like this month's Anniversary Update.
Microsoft has previously said that new features coming to Windows 10 will "change everything" and make you "freak out." Some of this work is likely to contribute to the upcoming Redstone releases, keeping consumers engaged with Windows 10 through regular free updates.
The company is currently expanding on several of the operating system's key features, including synchronisation between PC and mobile, Cortana, integration with the Xbox One and Windows Hello biometric authentication. All of these areas are likely to receive attention with Redstone 2 and 3. Microsoft may also introduce all-new features though, such as the unexpected addition of Windows Ink in the Anniversary Update.
The release of Redstone 2 in early 2017 appears to be timed to coincide with the launch of new Microsoft hardware products. It is expected to unveil new Surface Pro and Surface Book devices in the same period, showcasing the latest version of Windows 10. The new summer and winter approach to updates will help when planning hardware launches going forward, giving Microsoft and its partners a clearer time frame to aim for when building new devices.
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