It’s official: Windows 11 version 22H2, a.k.a. Sun Valley 2, is finished. The first full feature update to Windows 11 since the release of the OS in October last year, version 22H2 is currently available to Windows Insiders for testing purposes and includes the new version of Microsoft’s graphic driver architecture, WDDM 3.1.
Release notes (opens in new tab) for driver version 516.25 for Nvidia’s RTX and Quadro enterprise GPUs have just been released, in which Nvidia details bug fixes, updated support for a handful of programs, improved tensor core performance, and most crucially: official support for version 22H2 of Windows 11.
With some users already testing out 22H2, dedicated driver support is vital. Nvidia’s early release of compatible drivers gives it the time necessary to iron out any compatibility or performance issues with the new version of Windows 11, hopefully ensuring a smooth transition with later Nvidia drivers once 22H2 releases for all users later this year.
It should be noted that these are not the ‘Game Ready’ or ‘Studio’ drivers currently available for Nvidia’s consumer GeForce GPUs. These graphics cards don’t yet have proper support for Sun Valley 2, although we can expect Nvidia to roll out 22H2-compatible gaming drivers before the update goes to full release.
Microsoft is currently accepting submissions for testing driver compatibility with version 22H2, with a deadline of September 5. Although there’s no official release date for Sun Valley 2 yet, we can reasonably expect it to land sometime after that date, likely in late September or early October.
The new Windows 11 version includes a number of improvements, including new features for Windows apps like Paint and Notepad and general performance optimization under the hood. Most exciting are two features coming back thanks to popular demand; the old drag-and-drop functionality for the taskbar, and the returning Windows Media Player, which will replace Groove Music and the default music player.
Analysis: What does Nvidia stand to gain here?
Nvidia’s driver release comes not long after AMD published new driver details, listing support for WDDM 3.1 in its latest Radeon driver update (something Nvidia had already done a few months previously). The hope for both GPU manufacturers is that testers will be able to help them identify potential problems with the new Windows 11 version before it goes public, minimizing the need for bug fixes after release.
Nvidia has a definite head-start here, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence, likely due to its massive share of the dedicated GPU market. AMD is often left on the back foot in the battle for GPU supremacy. We’re dubious that either manufacturer will run into serious problems with version 22H2, though, as we have months still to go before the full release of Sun Valley 2.
It’s a little amusing that Nvidia’s first port of call when testing 22H2 compatibility for its graphic drivers is the business-focused Quadro and RTX GPUs. Although Nvidia is clearly confident in the stability of the new drivers, it seems that it’s not willing to let consumers with gaming GPUs have a shot just yet. Could it be that professional creatives represent a better testing group than gamers? Surely not!