Windows 12: Speculated Release Date, Expected Features, & Leaks

In Short
  • According to Microsoft, Windows 12 is not coming in 2024. Microsoft says Windows 11 24H2 will be this year's annual update.
  • Some rumored Windows 12 features include a new interactive shell with a floating taskbar, and a host of AI features.
  • Ideally, it should be free to upgrade from Windows 11 to Windows 12, but we can't say much right now as Microsoft has delayed Windows 12's release.

It’s been almost three years since Windows 11 was released. Under Panos Panay, the former chief product officer of Microsoft, it seemed Windows 12 would be released in 2024. However, after he left Microsoft, things changed and under new leadership, Windows 12 has been delayed. So to learn more about Windows 12’s speculated release date, expected features, rumored hardware requirements, and more, follow our in-depth article below.

Windows 12 Speculated Release Date

Panos Panay left Microsoft in September 2023. As a result, new and wildly experimental things that we were seeing from the Redmond giant has stopped appearing. From new Surface form-factors to a three-year update cycle for the Windows platform, all such things have been shelved as Microsoft pivots to integrating AI into many of its products.

In its recent Windows Insider blog, Microsoft put all the speculations of Windows 12 release to rest and said that Windows 11 24H2 will be this year’s annual update. The blog reads, “This denotes that Windows 11, version 24H2 will be this year’s annual feature update. As mentioned here, Windows 11 will have an annual feature update cadence that releases in the second half of the calendar year.”

Windows 12: Speculated Release Date, Expected Features, & Leaks

So Windows 12 is not coming this year, and it seems, we won’t likely see a new version of Windows even in 2025. Microsoft doesn’t want to fragment the Windows platform further, as Windows 10 still has most users (67%) and Windows 11 has only managed to migrate around 28% of users, after three years of release.

In addition, the Redmond giant is currently focusing on delivering AI features and experiences on Windows 11. It’s preparing to release Windows 11 version 24H2 with AI-laden features in October, 2024.

Windows 12 Expected Features

Although Microsoft hasn’t yet confirmed the existence of Windows 12, a few leaks have popped up. Here are all the expected features of Windows 12.

1. A New Desktop User Interface

New reports suggest that Microsoft is working on a completely new AI-powered Windows Shell with an advanced version of Copilot deeply integrated into the shell. Windows 12 won’t have a static desktop interface. Copilot will always be active in the background and help in searching, finding projects, and understanding context so that you can do more with minimal user input.

windows 12 features
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft had a Timeline feature on Windows 10, but it was removed in Windows 11. It seems like it will be making a comeback when Windows 12 releases. It will allow you to jump back in time and find apps, websites, and projects that you were working on earlier. Users can also search for files in natural language with context and Copilot can quickly show the file without even mentioning the exact file name.

Besides that, the new user interface may likely feature a floating Taskbar. It’s also being said that the Taskbar may be placed on top of the screen, but the new interface is highly experimental and is not ready for release. Apart from that, Microsoft plans to make Windows 12 more palatable for touch input and mouse and keyboard interaction.

The chances that we may get a separate Taskbar are high because rumors suggest Microsoft plans to decouple the desktop (including the taskbar, notification center, and more) from explorer.exe for Windows 12. The fact that Microsoft has already started the process of separating the “Immersive Shell” from File Explorer adds to the possibility.

2. AI, AI, AI, and AI – Copilot

Windows Co-pilot

Windows 12 is going to be all about AI, and Microsoft is reportedly working on the next generation of Surface laptops and calling them true AI PCs. Windows 12 will debut next year and it will bring several new AI experiences. We’ve already talked about the AI-powered interactive shell, but there is more to it.

It’s being reported that Windows 12 might come with an AI-powered Super Resolution feature. It will use the on-device NPU to upscale the graphics content in videos and games. In addition, Live Captions will be improved and can support translation from other languages in real-time. Live Captions will also work in video calls.

Next, Microsoft is said to be working on AI wallpapers that use ML to create a parallax effect on your existing wallpaper. Moreover, Copilot is set to get more advanced and can modify Windows settings and resolve issues with a simple input in natural language.

3. Faster and Seamless Updates

With Windows 12, it’s rumored that Microsoft is planning to introduce seamless and faster updates, something we saw Google do in Android and ChromeOS using Project Mainline and Treble.

Microsoft has been working behind the scenes to make Windows 12 a modular operating system. It will be based on the principles of Windows Core OS (WCOS) where system elements like OS files, drivers, and apps are isolated and read-only from the user.

Windows 11 Updates

We also know how annoying updates on Windows can be; seamless updates using different partitions should help Windows install updates faster and roll back effortlessly in case something goes wrong. So Microsoft will be moving to a modern update method with FFU images for faster update installation and quick reset of the PC, similar to ChromeOS.

4. Boosting Windows on ARM

After the launch of Snapdragon X Elite, Microsoft, OEMs, and developers are finally taking the ARM platform seriously. Qualcomm’s new ARM processor for Windows is truly a powerful chip and competes against Apple’s best M-series processors.

Snapdragon X Elite chipset

So the Windows on ARM (WoA) platform is finally getting huge upgrades with better driver compatibility and software makers are working to make ARM-compatible apps. Windows 12 will become the best OS to experience Windows on ARM.

Windows 12 Features and Improvements Wishlist

  • A bloatware-free experience
  • Improved Context Menu to avoid extra clicks
  • Better Widgets and customization. Flexible Widgets to the Windows Desktop like Vista and Windows 7
  • Enhanced Start Menu search experience. Ability to choose your own search engine
  • A UI wrapper for handhelds like the Steam Deck and ROG Ally
  • Unified Control Panel and Settings experience
  • More Windows-Android ecosystem features, independent from the Phone Link app.

Windows 12: Rumored Hardware Requirements

Currently, we have not heard much on the hardware requirements front for Windows 12. However, for Window 11 24H2, Microsoft is adding a CPU cut-off that would prevent much older PCs to boot the 24H2 build. The new update requires the CPU to support the “POPCNT” instruction.

Thankfully, processors released after 2010 already support the said instruction so that won’t be a big issue. That said, Microsoft may continue to tighten security on the Windows platform. When we hear more on Windows 12’s system requirements, we will update the article so stay tuned with us.

Windows 12 Price: Will Windows 12 be a Free Upgrade?

Looking at Microsoft’s history, upgrading from Windows 11 to Windows 12 should be free, just like it was from Windows 10 to 11. Moreover, eligible PCs that are already running Windows 10 might also see the option to install Windows 12 without any charge.

However, if you want to run a fresh Windows 12 install on your brand-new custom-built PC, you may have to buy a retail license for the upcoming desktop OS from Microsoft. You could still download and install Windows 11 for free and then update to Windows 12; although by doing that, you’d be missing out on some features.

And that’s everything we know about Windows 12 so far. Stick around and bookmark this if possible because we shall update this article regularly as more news or leaks pop up. If you want to find out the hidden Windows 11 features, head to our linked article. Let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

comment Comments 3
  • Chiemerie ofodeme says:

    I am trying to go Windows 12 but it is not working

    • William Shaw says:

      I have heard, windows 12, is expected to come 2024, about March for Insiders and 2nd half of year, to public. For now is no release from microsoft, and no sites I’ve found allow me to download it.

    • Umesh Malvankar says:

      It isn’t released yet it’s gonna release in 2024

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