Although more than 70 percent of all Windows PCs worldwide are still running Windows 10, according to industry portal statcounter.com, Microsoft has long been working on the successor to Windows 11. The rumor mill has been bubbling since the summer of 2022, and indications suggest that Windows 12 (codenamed “Next Valley” or “Hudson Valley”) will appear as early as 2024. ChatGPT and artificial intelligence (AI) are supposed to play an important role in it. There are also indications of higher hardware requirements and a modular design. Ai-lookup classifies the rumors.
When will Windows 12 be released?
So far, the rumors point to a release in 2024. In the summer of 2022, Twitter leaker XenoPanther discovered signs in an Insider version of Windows 11 that Microsoft was already working on version 3.2 of the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM), the architecture for display drivers in Windows. This inconspicuous info tip was just the tip of a rumor iceberg, because possibly the approximate launch date of Windows 12 is hidden behind it! As an indication, the same leaker on Reddit stated that chip manufacturer Qualcomm in India had published job postings that explicitly referred to this version. At that time, Windows 11 22H2 with WDDM 3.1 had not yet been released. The fact that Microsoft anticipated behind the scenes and was already working intensively on the next but one driver model suggested something bigger.
The tech portal Neowin then speculated that WDDM 3.2 could be reserved for Windows 12 and gave the presumed launch date of 2024 for both. But where does the year figure come from? Here Neowin refers to Windows Central. Its author Zac Bowden had shared insider information with the public in July 2022, according to which Microsoft would like to return to a three-year cycle for major versions of Windows. This release interval was followed by Windows 7 – which came out three years after Windows Vista – and then Windows 8.
However, it has been clear since Windows 10 at the latest that Microsoft is not afraid to spontaneously overturn its own update schedule. After all, it was originally even said that Windows 10 would be the last Windows and would only be modernized with smaller, more frequent updates. This was later followed by a cycle of two larger updates per year, and now it is only one. The manufacturer once announced that new features would be reserved for these feature updates, but later softened this rule – and now even offers larger innovations in advance via optional updates. Those who ignore these updates automatically receive the new features with the big updates on the monthly Windows patchday.
In November 2022, Microsoft also moved away from this rule and switched to a new update model called Moments – with up to four feature updates per year for users. The first update, Moment 1, delivered the tabs in Windows Explorer, among other things. Moment 2 with the AI search and many other innovations appeared at the end of February 2023. Moment 3 has been automatically distributed to all Windows 11 devices since June 13, 2023.
It is not certain that Windows 12 will actually be released in 2024, but it seems more and more likely. The news portal Windowslatest recently confirmed the rumors with reference to anonymous insiders. According to that, the user interface of Windows 12 will get a new look with a floating taskbar.
CPU manufacturers provide hints for Windows 12
If Microsoft were to replace the rather unpopular Windows 11 as early as 2024, the hardware manufacturers would also have to know about the plans. An article published by the graphics card portal VideoCardz at the end of February 2023 indicates exactly that. According to that, a leaker named TLC recently published internal documents about Intel’s upcoming CPU family “Meteor Lake”, in which the name “Windows 12” also appears.
According to Neowin, the AMD processors of the upcoming 8000 series are probably also “Next Valley-ready” – that is, Windows 12-compatible. The technology portal refers to an updated roadmap of the chip manufacturer for its AM5 socket in its report from the beginning of June 2023, according to which the new CPUs will appear “on time
Windows 12 as an AI update?
It has been known for quite some time that Microsoft relies on a new processor generation for Windows 12. At the beginning of 2023, Windows boss Panos Panay raved about CPUs with a dedicated AI engine that would lead Windows into a promising future at the CES technology trade show. With the billion-dollar investment in ChatGPT, it then quickly became clear that Windows 12 will probably be Microsoft’s big AI update. Although there are no official announcements, Microsoft manager Yusuf Mehdi confirmed to the news magazine The Verge that the Windows 11 successor is already in the works and will rely on artificial intelligence technologies developed by OpenAI. According to the report, AI will play a role in “future versions of Windows.”
It is also said that Intel and AMD are building more powerful AI processors into the chips. Intel’s Meteor Lake processors should therefore deliver new AI features when they are ready for the market in 2023/2024. At the Build developer fair at the end of May 2023, Microsoft presented the new Windows Copilot, for example, which can be started in the future via its own button in the taskbar, answers complex questions or starts suitable Windows functions.
Windows 12: System requirements
With the steep Windows 11 system requirements, Microsoft had excluded many Windows 10 computers from the free update and delayed the generation change itself. No wonder that many Windows fans fear another increase of the hardware requirements. As Deskmodder claims to have learned at the end of March, these are already fixed. The Windows 11 successor will require the same processor generation (Intel 8, AMD’s Zen 2, Qualcomm 7) and the security module TPM 2.0.
It is unclear whether Microsoft will require its own Pluton security chip for Windows 12. The cryptographic processor is supposed to offer better protection against malware by providing and increasing the security features of TPM 2.0. However, as part of the CPU, Pluton is so far only available on devices with processors starting with Ryzen 6000 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3. Therefore, observers hope that Microsoft will refrain from this new hurdle for now.
Unlike Windows 11, which is content with 4 gigabytes of RAM, Windows 12 requires at least 8 gigabytes, according to the report. Deskmodder cites the upcoming cloud PC integration in Windows as the reason. In mid-March 2023, insiders had discovered a possibility to integrate cloud PCs directly via the Windows settings in the Windows 11 pre-release build 25314. After that, cloud apps can be displayed on the virtual desktop via the shortcut Win + Tab in the Task View or opened in coherence mode via the Start menu or the taskbar.
CorePC: Windows 12 as a modular system
According to US media reports, Microsoft wants to fundamentally modernize Windows with version 12 and is working on a project called “CorePC”. According to Windows Central’s own sources, this is a modular concept that is supposed to make Windows more flexible and competitive with modern operating systems like Chrome OS. If the rumors are true, Windows 12 will run on different platforms and only place the necessary components there. It is also supposed to allow different Windows editions with different functionality and app support – depending on the needs. A central goal of this “core PC” is the outsourcing of system, programs and user data into separate and partly read-only partitions, similar to iPadOS and Android. This should ensure faster updates, more security and higher reliability.
If the whole thing sounds familiar: Microsoft had already experimented with the technology in the never released Windows 10 X, then called “Windows Core OS”. Unlike the Windows 11 predecessor, however, Windows 12 is not supposed to be developed from scratch, but – the other way around – simplified. In this way, the Win32 support for conventional PC programs, which is getting on in years, should also be preserved. With Windows Core OS, the technology was still on the hit list in favor of the newer UWP apps (Universal Windows Platform).