Windows 11’s biggest update yet could arrive sooner than you think

Laptop user with Android apps running in Windows 11
(Image credit: diy13 / Shutterstock / Microsoft)

Windows 11’s big update for 2022 – known as 22H2 or alternatively ‘Sun Valley 2’ – is about to hit RTM, according to the rumor mill, meaning that it’s theoretically ready to roll.

RTM stands for ‘Release to Manufacturing’, and as that name suggests, it means that the software is finished and ready for release – at least on the face of it.

No further features are added after an RTM build is declared, but what does happen is that it’s all thoroughly tested, and so development is still ongoing, but it’s all about finding and squashing any bugs and problems before the full release.

According to Windows Latest, the RTM milestone is about to be reached for Windows 11, with word coming from the usual inside sources ‘familiar’ with the progress of the OS. Indeed, this should happen in the next few weeks, so by the time the end of May rolls around, the RTM version could be here, in theory.

Analysis: The guessing game around Windows 11 22H2 release date

Add a healthy dose of skepticism to this claim, as ever, but in fairness it makes some sense given what we recently heard from Microsoft. Namely that the latest test build of Windows 11 removed the preview watermark from the desktop, which usually indicates that Microsoft is ready to stop adding features, and start the aforementioned testing-and-then-more-testing process.

That said, the company was careful to clarify that the stripping out of said watermark “doesn’t mean we’re done”, so clearly, we’re not on the cusp of a Windows 11 22H2 release; but moving to RTM in the near future, perhaps even by the end of the month, seems a realistic possibility. Certainly if it isn’t May, it seems very much like RTM could well happen in June.

As to whether this means the 22H2 update might be coming sooner rather than later this year, it’s a tricky one to call. The testing process can sometimes go on for a long time, so it’s still very possible that even if RTM is reached at the end of May as predicted here, there could be months and months of rejigging and fine-tuning, and we could still end up with a release as late as, say, September or October 2022.

That seems to be the kind of timeframe the rumor mill is favoring these days, but then again, we don’t know anything for sure, and it’s all going to depend on exactly how smoothly the Windows 11 bug bashing proceeds. Early rumors seemed to suggest we could see Windows 11 22H2 break cover very early in H2, such as even in July, so you never know… that could still happen in theory.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).