Microsoft Overhauls Windows Roadmap, Starting with Windows 12

December 6, 2023

Microsoft has long been in the process of developing its next operating system, tentatively referred to as Windows 12 or a successor to Windows 11.

A recent report provides insights into the company’s plans for the upcoming release, codenamed Hudson Valley, expected to debut in the fall of the next year, with a significant emphasis on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) features throughout the Windows experience.

In a notable shift, Microsoft has redefined its roadmap for Windows. Initially anticipating Windows 12 as a major release spanning three years with minor features in between, the company has reversed this approach. It now intends to revert to an annual update schedule for Windows, starting from the next year.

Key Features of Windows 12 (Hudson Valley):

  1. AI Integration: The upcoming release underscores the pivotal role of AI, requiring modern devices with Neural Processing Units (NPUs) to leverage most features. An AI-powered Windows shell, featuring Microsoft Copilot, is anticipated, transforming user interactions across the system.
  2. Enhanced Search Functionality: The AI-driven Windows will enable users to employ natural language queries for tasks like file searches. For instance, typing “find me the file I was working on last Sunday” would prompt Windows to understand and locate the requested file.
  3. Advanced Copilot Capabilities: The “advanced copilot” feature is designed to remember user interactions and create a dynamic timeline. This timeline facilitates seamless navigation, allowing users to search for terms present on-screen and revisit their previous activities.
  4. Live Captions and Translation: Live captions are expected to undergo improvements, not only providing real-time captions for videos but also offering translation capabilities during video playback or calls.
  5. Super Resolution Feature: AI will power a Super Resolution feature, automatically enhancing the quality of games and videos on the PC, akin to technologies like Nvidia’s DLSS and RTX Video Super Resolution. Additionally, AI will contribute to creating animated wallpapers with a parallax effect based on user photos.

Energy Efficiency and Additional Improvements:

  • Microsoft aims to enhance Windows’ power efficiency with new energy-saving features, potentially extending battery life by up to 50% on certain devices.
  • Users will have the option to prioritize device charging during periods of renewable energy use to reduce emissions.

Changes to Start Menu and Windows Shell:

  • The Start menu is set to undergo changes, featuring a new “Creator” area with shortcuts to Microsoft 365 tools.
  • The Windows shell might see alterations, including system tray elements potentially relocating to the top of the screen, based on ongoing experiments within Microsoft.

Revised Windows Roadmap:

  • Microsoft is abandoning the previously planned three-year release cycle, returning to an annual update cadence, commencing after the launch of Hudson Valley. This means no smaller “Moment” updates between major releases.

Uncertainties Surrounding Windows 12 Name:

  • The official nomenclature for Hudson Valley, whether it will be termed Windows 12, remains uncertain. Microsoft is deliberating the potential fragmentation of its user base and whether retaining the current version might be more advantageous.
  • Hudson Valley will be based on the Germanium platform release, expected to RTM in April. However, the Hudson Valley release itself is slated for August, with a general rollout in September or October.

Windows CorePC Project:

  • The CorePC project, aimed at modernizing and modularizing Windows for diverse devices, remains in progress. This version of Windows promises increased security by separating OS files and drivers from user files. However, it won’t be an upgrade for existing users, requiring the purchase of new devices with CorePC preinstalled.
  • A version of CorePC intended to compete with ChromeOS is under development, targeting the low-end device market. Notably, Windows CorePC is not anticipated to be part of the Hudson Valley release, leaving the transition timeline to CorePC unclear.

Lots of exciting developments coming with Windows 12. Stay tuned!

Article Categories:
Artificial Intelligence · Featured · Windows 12

Mike Johnson is a writer for The Redmond Cloud - the most comprehensive source of news and information about Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Cloud. He enjoys writing about Azure Security, IOT and the Blockchain.

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