When will Windows 12 come out? Will there be a Windows 12? Windows 10 was originally described as “the last version of Windows”, with Microsoft providing regular updates rather than launching a brand-new version.
However, that all changed with the release of Windows 11, which went from rumour to official reveal in a matter of weeks. The cancellation of Windows 10X influenced Microsoft’s decision, but the company had clearly been working on a new operating system for a while.
It now looks like the company is shifting to a three-year update cycle for major versions of Windows, meaning Windows 12 would be announced as soon as next year. While nothing has been confirmed by Microsoft, there are plenty of rumours flying around. Here’s everything you need to know
When will Windows 12 come out?
As you might expect, we don’t know exactly when Windows 12 (or its equivalent) will be released.
Our best guess so far comes from the same Windows Central article as above, which says there’ll be a major new version of Windows every three years. With Windows 11 released in 2021, that suggests we’ll see Windows 12 at some point in 2024.
In March 2023, Bowden again indicated that the “next major version of the Windows client” would be released in 2024. The fact it already has an internal codename – Hudson Valley – suggests that may be the case. He was slightly more specific in a June 2023 article, suggesting it’ll arrive “in the second half of 2024”.
Windows Latest has gone one step further, suggesting a launch in the fall (autumn) of 2024 and then wider rollout in 2025. However, it’s not clear where author Mayank Parmar got this information from.
German site Deskmodder, which first hinted that Windows 12 was in the works, says in another article that “we’ll probably get Windows 12 by the end of 2024”.
Windows is expected to be on the agenda at Microsoft’s event in New York on 21 September, but that’ll probably just be for the upcoming Windows 11 23H2 update. According to sources close to Windows Central‘s Zac Bowden, it’s “unlikely” we’ll hear anything about Windows 12.
For context, most recent versions of Windows have received around 10 or more years of support from Microsoft. The big exception to that is Windows 8’s four years of mainstream updates, but that was mainly due to its poor reception.
Microsoft hasn’t said when Windows 11 will stop being supported, but most recent versions have received around 10 years of support from Microsoft. If the same is true of Windows 11, we’d need a new version by 2031 at the very latest. But it looks like this will be arriving much sooner.
Remember, the release date of Windows 12 isn’t the day you’ll be able to start using it. There will probably be a gradual rollout lasting several months, with newer hardware likely to be prioritised.
Will there be a Windows 12?
It’s looking likely. There was a six-year gap between the release of Windows 10 and Windows 11, but the latter isn’t expected to be the last major version of Windows.
A July 2022 Windows Central article suggested a Windows 11 successor is in the works, although there’s no guarantee it’ll be known as Windows 12. A subsequent March 2023 article details some of the upgrades you can expect. Both articles cite author Zac Bowden’s ‘sources’, but he has a strong track record for Windows news.
In February 2023, VideoCardz.com reported on a since deleted tweet from leaker @leaf_hobby, where the OS list for an upcoming Intel Meteor Lake desktop CPU apparently included Windows 12. We can’t verify how accurate this is, but the leaker in question has a solid track record for Intel leaks.
Shortly after that, in an interview with The Verge, Microsoft head of consumer marketing Yusuf Mehdi mentioned “develop future versions of Windows” in reference to AI features. That may just mean a future update, but a new major version would make a lot of sense.
Then, in March 2023, Microsoft launched a new fourth ‘Canary’ channel of the Windows Insider Program. This will be more experimental than even the existing ‘Dev’ channel, and Microsoft says it’ll be used to “preview platform changes that require longer-lead time before getting release to customers”.
It means builds in the Canary Channel will be very unstable, but provide access to features that are a long way away from general release. It’s also notable that there’s no mention of Windows 11 in Microsoft’s summary of the Canary Channel below – that could mean it’s only for Windows 12 features.
According to Windows Central, this is “where the company intends to preview long-lead development items for the next major version”.
In an article reporting this development, Windows Latest, said the Canary Channel “would lay the groundwork for the next-gen, likely Windows 12”.
As expected, there was no mention of Windows 12 at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in May 2023. However, as Windows Latest reports, the company did include a screenshot with mention of “the next generation of Windows”.
This didn’t turn out to be a real event, but Microsoft is likely working on “the next generation of Windows” behind closed doors. Will these just be updates to Windows 11, or a brand-new version in the form of Windows 12? That remains to be seen.
But hints from Microsoft and Intel, combined with reports from two reputable publications, means it’s likely a major new version of Windows is on the way.
Will Windows 12 have different hardware requirements?
Probably, yes. While laptops and PCs have retained the same core design for decades, plenty of other specs have already changed since Windows 11 was released.
Its hardware requirements proved controversial, but security features such as TPM and Secure Boot look set to remain for the foreseeable future.
The only rumoured system requirement so far comes from Deskmodder, which suggests you’ll need at least 8GB of RAM rather than the current 4GB. Other Windows 11 minimums of 64GB of storage and a 720p may also be increased, but there’s no evidence for that yet.
With AI set to feature heavily, you may also need a chip with artificial intelligence capabilities. Microsoft’s recent investment into ChatGPT makers OpenAI and subsequent release of Bing Chat suggests that may be the case.
In January 2023, Windows Latest reported that AMD was working on CPUs with AI built-in. Intel and ARM will likely follow suit at some point, although it may not be necessary to have one of these chips to run Windows 12.
Then, in a June 2023 Windows Central article, author Zac Bowden speculated that some (mostly AI) features may be “limited to more recent PCs with an NPU [Neural Processing Unit] or GPU”.
What new features will Windows 12 have?
As you might expect, it’s not clear quite what Windows 12 will be like. Most of its new features are thought to be in development, but a lot could change between now and a final release.
However, the company may have inadvertently revealed an early version of the Windows 12 UI. A mock-up at Microsoft’s Ignite conference in October 2022 shows a very different design:
Key features here include a floating taskbar and pill-shaped search bar in the top-centre, with the latter reminiscent of the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro. The Widgets panel and Action Center are also at the top of the screen rather than the bottom.
According to Bowden in a subsequent Windows Central article, “my sources say this is an early prototype of the UI that will ship on Windows 12”.
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