Windows 11 22H2 Nickel Sun Valley 2 to be signed-off feature complete on February 4, 23H2 Copper builds for Dev channel likely from March 4 ↺
It's been more than half a year since Windows 11 first went public, and we are now seeing most OEMs preloading Windows 11 on their machines in their new launches. Windows 11 had (and probably still has) its share of teething issues, most of which have been addressed by Microsoft and concerned parties via several updates. Microsoft had already commenced work on the next major feature release in parallel, and we are now getting to know that the new build is ready to be signed-off very soon.
Windows 11 Nickel also known as Sun Valley 2 is expected to release sometime later this year. However, Microsoft may be ready for designating the build as "feature complete" if deadlines from a leaked script from an internal build are anything to go by. According to code in the script, Windows 11 22H2 Nickel will be designated "feature complete" on February 4, 2022 and as "config complete" on March 4, 2022.
After flighting the Windows 11 Cobalt or Sun Valley public build (22000), Microsoft began concurrently working on a new Dev branch for Insiders. Improvements in the Dev branch (currently flighting build 22538) are usually part of an upcoming release and while some features may not even make it to release, some of them can be ported to current public builds as well. Microsoft switched to an annual release cadence with Windows 11, so the next major feature update can be considered to be Windows 11 22H2 codename Nickel.
The dates in the script indicate that Microsoft will lock the feature set and wrap Windows 11 22H2 development by February 4. Insider 22H2 Dev builds will be flighted till March 4 after which Microsoft will likely transition to the development of Windows 11 23H2 codename Copper in the Dev channel. Starting March 4, we will likely see 22H2 builds being seeded to Insiders in Beta and Release Preview rings accompanied by several cumulative updates to fix reported issues before general availability later this year.
If true, code signed off on March 4 can be considered to be the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) build. Users should be able to install the RTM build and upgrade to the latest cumulative patch on release day without much issue. Of course, the deadlines indicated in the code are still unofficial and are subject to change.