Did Intel Just Confirm Microsoft’s Windows 11 Launch Month?

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Last week Intel launched its graphics driver, the first official non-beta release for Microsoft's upcoming Windows 11 operating system. Intel's early efforts beat out both NVIDIA and AMD when offering product-quality drivers for current-generation graphics hardware.

However, buried within the release notes for the recent driver release was a reference to a potential release window for Windows 11. The release notes include the usual references to Windows 10 operating systems ranging from the October 2018 Update to the most recent May 2021 Update. However, there's a reference to one other operating system at the bottom of the list, which says "Microsoft Windows 11-64 October 2021 Update (21H2)."

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This info was first spotted by WindowsLatest, which says that the initial Windows 11 release was developed under the codename Cobalt. In addition, Windows 11 shift away from the twice-yearly "major" updates of Windows 10 to just a single major update in the Fall. That means that the first significant update for Windows 11 will come during the second half of 2022.

If Intel's slip-up is accurate, it would confirm previous reports that alleged an October Windows 11 launch. Screenshots visible during Microsoft’s big Windows 11 announcement hinted at an October 20th launch date, while a Microsoft Teams message in one screenshot read, "Good luck today, Panos! Excited to turn it up to 11... can't wait for October."

However, it should be noted that the Windows 11 launch will take place in at least two stages. The first people to gain access to Window 11 would be customers that purchase new PCs shipping in October and Windows Insiders that would have access to the production build at the same time.

The second stage would come next year with free upgrades to Windows 11 for existing Windows 10-based PCs. "The rollout of the upgrade to Windows 10 devices already in use today will begin in 2022 through the first half of that year," wrote the official Windows Twitter account late last month.

Microsoft isn't the only company with big plans during October. Intel is also rumored to launch its 12th generation Alder Lake Core CPUs around the same time. Windows 11 reportedly has optimizations to extract the most performance out of the new hybrid processors.