Microsoft Changes its Release Schedule for Optional Windows Updates

Windows 11

Microsoft announced some changes yesterday regarding its release schedule for Windows monthly updates. While nothing changes for the “Patch Tuesday” updates released on the second Tuesday of each month, the company announced a new release window for optional non-security preview patches released later in the month. 

Starting next month, Microsoft will now target the fourth week of the month to release these optional non-security preview patches for Windows 11 and Windows 10. These optional patches used to be called either “C” or “D” releases, and they include all fixes coming in the following monthly security update release. In some cases, these optional non-security preview releases also include new Windows features, as was the case with File Explorer tabs or Search highlights.  

Why Microsoft is changing its release schedule for optional non-security updates

“We have found this to be the optimal time for us to publish and for you to consume these updates,” Microsoft said about the new release schedule on the Windows IT Pro blog. “That’s two weeks after your latest monthly security update and about two weeks before you’ll see these features become part of the next mandatory cumulative update. We’re excited for this improvement as it is meant to optimize the validation of payloads, improve consistency, and enhance the predictability of your testing, update, and upgrade experience.”

In practice, this isn’t going to be much of a change. In recent months, these optional Windows patches have been released either in the third week of the month (as was the case in January), or the fourth one (as was the case in February). Anyway, going forward, Microsoft will now make things more predictable for Windows users and IT Pros as these optional updates will now be released in the fourth week of the month.

No more optional updates for Windows 10 versions 20H2 and 21H2

In addition to this new release schedule for optional non-security preview updates, Microsoft also announced yesterday that Windows 10 versions 20H2 and 21H2 will no longer receive such updates starting next month. While monthly security (Patch Tuesday) updates will continue to be released as expected, Windows 10 version 22H2 will now be the only version of the OS to receive optional updates at the end of every month. 

The March 2023 non-security preview patch released yesterday for Windows 10 versions 20H2, 21H2, and 22H2 includes several bug fixes. It also addresses an issue causing USB printers to be classified as multimedia devices even though they are not. The preview updates for Windows 11 versions 21H2 and 22H2 should be available very soon.