Windows 11: A guide to the updates


On October 5, 2021, Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 11, which began as a slow, phased rollout, expected to reach all eligible devices by the middle of 2022. But a Windows launch isn’t the end a process — it’s really just the beginning. As with Windows 10, Microsoft continually works on improving Windows 11 by fixing bugs, releasing security patches, and occasionally adding new features.

In this story we summarize what you need to know about each update released to the public for Windows 11. For each build, we’ve included the date of its release and a link to Microsoft’s announcement about it. The most recent updates appear first.

Note: If you’re still using Windows 10, see “Windows 10: A guide to the updates

.” And if you’re looking for information about Insider Program previews for upcoming feature releases of Windows 11, see “Windows 11 Insider Previews: What’s in the latest build?”

Updates to Windows 11 original release

KB5006674 (OS Build 22000.258)

Release date: October 12, 2021

This build fixes a bug related to compatibility issues between some Intel “Killer” and “SmartByte” networking software and Windows 11 (original release). It also makes quality improvements to the servicing stack, which is the component that installs Windows updates.

The build also includes a wide variety of security updates. For details, see Microsoft’s Security Update Guide and the October 2021 Security Update notes.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied relatively soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

(Get more info about KB5006674.)

Windows 11 original release

Release date: October 5, 2021

Windows 11 is the first new version of Windows that Microsoft has released since July 2015, when it launched Windows 10. Here’s a quick summary of what’s new in it. (For more details, see our in-depth review of Windows 11


  • The Start menu has been redesigned and slimmed down, and Live Tiles have been eliminated. It’s now easier to find applications to launch and files on which you’ve recently worked.
  • Snap Layouts lets you group your open windows into one of a half-dozen pre-built screen layouts. Snap Groups helps you quickly switch from one Snap Layout to another.
  • The Windows look and feel has gotten an overhaul, with rounded windows, spiffier animations, and an overall softer feel. Some built-in apps, such as File Explorer, get a simpler, easier-to-use interface.
  • You can chat and videoconference directly from the taskbar using Microsoft Teams. However, it isn’t the full Teams service, so the full suite of enterprise Teams features, such the use of channels and being able to search through message archives, isn’t available.
  • Cortana is still available in Windows 11 but doesn’t appear in the taskbar and is not enabled by default.

For IT, these features are notable:

  • Windows 11 requires hardware with a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 2.0 built into it for security. TPM uses hardware-based encryption to encrypt disks using Windows capabilities like BitLocker, and can stop dictionary attacks against passwords, among other capabilities.
  • Windows 11 has a once-a-year feature update schedule rather than the two-a-year cycle under Windows 10. That will reduce update time, effort, and headaches.
  • To help make sure enterprise applications and other software can run on Windows 11, Microsoft has released Test Base for Microsoft 365, an automated testing tool to check application compatibility.