Windows 12 – what we know so far: release date, cost, features, and more

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It’s been well over a year and change now since Microsoft launched Windows 11, while its predecessor, Windows 10 was launched in 2015. A six-year gap between both operating systems, though Microsoft continues to furnish both with updates and features.

Recently, the company has taken up a new approach to how it runs things, particularly with Windows 11. It has been pushing major updates to its latest OS, as is the case with the recent Windows 11 22H2 Moment 2 update that included tons of new features as well as key improvements.

Additionally, Windows 10 continues to get security updates from Microsoft, the company has already started phasing out the OS. Setting the first nail in the coffin, the company announced that Windows 10 licenses are no longer up for sale, that is, Pro and Home Editions. The OS is slated to hit its end-of-support date on October 14, 2025.

That said, there have been some indications that Microsoft could be getting ready to make another major release, “Windows 12.” Till now, there have been numerous indications that the OS is in the works and the release could be made as soon as next year.

Here’s everything we know:

Windows 12 Release date

Several reports have indicated that Microsoft could be ready to release a new OS, Windows 12 (name yet to be confirmed) in 2024.

In retrospect, this might not be farfetched, there have been indications highlighting Microsoft’s intent to start shipping major versions of the Windows client every three years.

With this in mind, Microsoft’s last major release was back in 2021, and the next one could possibly be made sometime in 2024. Windows Central’s Zac Bowden has also reiterated the same sentiments numerous times, a reliable source especially when it comes to matters Windows and Microsoft in general.

New Canary Channel

Earlier this month, Microsoft made some major changes to its Windows Insider program and debuted a new channel dubbed Canary. With the new channel in place, the current Dev Channel has been split into two categories; the Canary and Rebooted Dev Channels.

The first category, Canary will mainly focus on providing technical users with early looks at platform changes that require long lead times, whereas, the Rebooted Dev Channel will focus on providing a bit more stability than the new Canary Channel, though just like the Canary Channel, the changes won’t be tied to a Windows release.

Something that stood out with Microsoft’s announcement, is that it didn’t mention Windows 11 anywhere in the Canary Channel’s description. The company played it safe and also didn’t mention Windows 12. It only mentioned that the Dev Channel will be getting the latest for Windows 11.

However, to set it aside from the rest of the other channels builds shipping to the Canary Channel will be numbered in the 25000 series. The new builds will mainly focus on major changes to the Windows kernel, new APIs, and more.

The company also indicated that some of the features shipping to the Canary Channel might never hit general availability. The company further highlighted that there are those that could ship in future releases when they are ready.

Microsoft already released the first Canary Channel build earlier this week coming in at 25314, as part of the 25000 series builds. The release featured LSA Protection Enablement on Upgrade. Additionally, the Remote Mailslot Protocol was disabled by default.

All this factored in, the new Canary Channel is a lot like the Dev channel. But it appears to be Microsoft’s “hidden” way of testing Windows 12.

Cost implication

A lot of you might be wondering whether Microsoft’s Windows 12 will be free to download. Well, it seems that users will be able to get it for free, however, your device must meet the minimum system requirements set by the company.

We already know that Microsoft offered free updates for existing PCs allowing users to upgrade to Windows 10 and Windows 11. And if this is anything to go by then Windows 12 is likely to follow suit. However, if you don’t have an existing Windows license you still need to make the purchase.

Hardware requirements

There’s little to go about as far as system and hardware requirements are concerned. It is highly likely that Microsoft will favor modern PCs over older ones seeing as to how technology is ever-evolving.

But if Windows 12’s requirements are anything like Windows 11’s, not very many users will be able to make the upgrade. According to a report by Lansweeper, as of October 2021 43% of Microsoft devices still can’t run Windows 11 based on 30 million Windows devices scanned at 60,000 enterprises.

According to @leaf_hobby on Twitter, a well-known source when it comes to intel hardware leaks, Windows 12 is featured on the supported OS list for Intel’s Meteor Lake-S desktop chipsets.

However, the Tweet has since been deleted. Videocardz did capture the details before the Tweet was deleted. Here’s everything that was spotted:

MTL-S has additional 5.0 x4 from CPU(for M.2?)
5.0 x16
5.0 x4
4.0 x4
From CPU Direct
No AVX512

Z890 has additional 4.0 x4 from chipset, x24 Gen4 lanes total
Wi-Fi 7 debut

It says support windows 12 on OS list(?)

Now only 6P+8E and 6P+16E, 8P under dev?
That’s everything I know”

The (Z980) chipset will be paired with Intel Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake CPUs. Meteor Lake processors are set to ship sometime during 2024’s second quarter according to a report by BenchLife.

What’s likely to happen is that Microsoft will still favor modern PCs over older ones and probably stick to the same hardware and system requirements as Windows 11 with some tweaks.

New features

During last year’s Microsoft Ignite event, there was an odd occurrence that wasn’t quite expected. It was an image of Microsoft’s communication platform Teams running on a Windows 11-style desktop.

But if you look closely, you’ll notice a few key elements that set it aside from the usual Windows 11 user interface that we are used to.

Windows 12

A notable feature spotted was the floating taskbar which is different from the current setup. The status bar was also at the top and featured some system icons like Wi-Fi and battery indicators.

A similar concept that we’ve seen in macOS and even Linux offerings. There’s also a weather widget that is featured at the top-left corner of the screen.

AI-powered Windows 12

Microsoft has not made any announcement confirming that Windows 12 is in the works despite the numerous hints suggesting that it is. But one thing that’s for sure is that moving forward, the company will deeply integrate AI across its products and services.

At the beginning of the year, Microsoft extended its partnership with OpenAI by making a multibillion-dollar investment. Since then, the company has deeply integrated AI across its services and products and even debuted the New Bing, the AI copilot for the web, which has had its fair share of setbacks as well as milestones. Perhaps, Microsoft could be looking to further integrate AI technology with the new OS and unlock more capabilities.

While on an interview with the Verge, Yusuf Mehdi, the Corporate Vice President, of Modern Life, Search, and Devices at Microsoft confirmed that the company is looking to incorporate AI into future versions of Windows. For all we know, he could be talking about Windows 11.

According to Mehdi:

As we start to develop future versions of Windows we’ll think about other places where AI should play a natural role in terms of the experience.

Panos Panay, Executive Vice President, and Chief Product Officer at Microsoft also shared the same sentiments at CES stating that “AI is going to reinvent how you do everything on Windows.”

In essence, Microsoft has already taken the first step toward this new reality with the latest Windows 11 update. The Windows 11 taskbar now features the new AI-powered version of Bing. What’s more, the Start menu now recommends content for business users by leveraging AI capabilities.

That’s all we know for now, it is important to take all this with a pinch of salt as Microsoft has not made any announcement regarding a new OS but we’ll keep tabs on any developments and equally keep you posted.

To this end, Microsoft continues to intensify how it rolls out new features to users. Case in point, the company’s recent Windows 11’s next Moments update which featured AI, iOS support, screen recording, and more.

What are your thoughts on Windows 12? We’d love to hear them in the comment section.

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