Windows 12: Discover the Latest Features, Changes, and Release Date

Windows 12 (code-named “Hudson Valley”) is the upcoming operating system slated for release sometime in 2024, bringing with it a host of exciting new features and improvements. While Microsoft has yet to officially disclose specific details about the next major upgrade to Windows, various tidbits of information have surfaced, giving us a glimpse of what we can expect in this next iteration, which may or may not carry the branding of “Windows 12.”


Here’s a quick rundown of the new features and key details you should know about Windows 12:

  • New system with state separation
  • Enhanced AI optimization for improved performance
  • AI text recognition on images
  • AI content analysis with contextual prompts
  • Exciting visual changes, including a floating Taskbar and revamped top bar
  • Support for ReFS file system on boot drives
  • Expected release date in October 2024
  • Higher hardware requirements

What’s New on Windows 12?

Windows 12 is set to introduce a plethora of fresh features, improvements, updates to existing functionalities, and several visual changes. The focus will also be on incorporating more AI capabilities and delivering faster updates.

New State Separation System

While the exact features and changes included in the new version remain uncertain, recent reports suggest that Microsoft plans to partition the operating system into different modules through a project called “CorePC.” This approach allows for the creation of various editions of Windows 12 to cater to different device requirements since not all form factors provide the same features and capabilities (e.g., legacy support for Win32 programs).

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“CorePC” will also introduce the concept of “state separation,” which involves dividing the entire system into several “read-only partitions” inaccessible to users or third-party applications. Unlike previous iterations of Windows, where system files, applications, and user data were stored in a single place, this division into distinct partitions will enable better management, faster updates, and improved security. It may also lead to faster and more reliable device resets.

Additionally, there are indications that Microsoft is developing an OS variant specifically for the education market. This version would solely run Microsoft Edge, Office, web apps, and Android apps. Notably, it is expected to be up to 75 percent smaller than the current SE variant of Windows 11.

As part of this project, the company is also working on a new compatibility layer internally known as “Neon” to ensure legacy apps work seamlessly in a system that employs state separation.

New AI Features

Windows 12 will put a significant emphasis on AI features, and Microsoft is already working on optimization efforts for AI in the upcoming operating system.

Among the new AI features, users may benefit from the ability to scan on-screen content with contextual prompts, streamlining project initiation or app launching. Additionally, the system might include object and text detection in images, allowing users to easily extract and copy content.

New Visual Changes

Although specifics regarding visual changes in Windows 12 are yet to be fully revealed, Microsoft has given us a glimpse of an exciting new design concept for the desktop. This concept showcases a floating Taskbar with rounded corners and a redesigned top bar. The revamped top bar will feature weather information, time details, and notification updates – bringing the desktop closer to the design aesthetics found in macOS and various Linux distributions.

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New ReFS File System Support

While previous versions of Windows, including Windows 11, supported the Resilient File System (ReFS), the file system was limited to use with secondary drives on the desktop version. This limitation is expected to change with Windows 12 as ReFS support will likely extend to boot drives. This means users will have the option to install the operating system on a ReFS partition, potentially replacing the New Technology File System (NTFS).

ReFS is a technology aimed at meeting storage requirements and overcoming the limitations of NTFS. It offers advantages such as handling large volumes, sharing storage pools across different systems, and providing corruption resiliency.

Will Windows 12 be a Free Upgrade?

Yes, Windows 12 is expected to be available as a free upgrade for devices already running Windows 11 or Windows 10.

For compatible system configurations, the new version is anticipated to be offered through Windows Update as an optional installation, rather than a mandatory upgrade forced onto devices. Microsoft will likely provide the ISO file, Media Creation Tool, and Installation Assistant tool for users to install Windows 12.

However, if you have a device that has never had a Windows installation, you will need to purchase a Windows 12 product key, which may have a cost similar to the activation fee for Windows 11 – $140 for the “Home” edition and $200 for the “Pro” edition. In some cases, it is possible to activate Windows 11 using a Windows 7 product key, which may also work for activating Windows 12.

Will Windows 12 Increase Hardware Requirements?

Yes, it is likely that Windows 12 will raise hardware requirements, although, for now, it seems that only the memory requirement will change from 4GB to 8GB. The new version, similar to its predecessor, will continue to necessitate the presence of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip and enable Secure Boot.

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The introduction of the Pluton security chip may become an optional requirement for devices that support this feature.

While some requirements may be altered, if your device currently runs Windows 11, it is expected to support the upgrade to Windows 12.

When Will Windows 12 Release?

Windows 12 is set to release in 2024, with Microsoft adjusting its release schedule to every three years for new versions. Given that Windows 11 was initially made available in October 2021, it can be expected that Windows 12 will follow suit and release around October 2024.

Similar to its predecessor, Windows 12 will likely receive at least one major update each year, with support extending for 24 months. While the upgrade will not be mandatory, devices will eventually receive automatic upgrades if the current release nears the end of its support cycle.

Additionally, throughout the year, smaller updates known as “moments” will be rolled out approximately every three months. These moments will introduce less significant new features, visual updates, and improvements to existing functionalities.

Should You Wait to Upgrade to Windows 12?

Yes, it is advisable to hold off on upgrading your device during the initial stages of the Windows 12 rollout. Early releases of operating systems often include known issues and compatibility problems that may impact the user experience.

If you currently have a device running Windows 10, it is recommended that you first upgrade to Windows 11 and then wait for the release of at least four cumulative update releases before upgrading to Windows 12.

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