What is Windows 12?

Welcome to Windows 12

With Windows 11 now approaching its second anniversary and receiving updates along the way, the tech world’s attention is gradually shifting towards what could be the next major release, Windows 12.

While Microsoft has not officially confirmed the development of Windows 12, there are growing expectations in the industry that a new version of Windows might be on the horizon. This article explores the possible features and expectations surrounding Windows 12.

Release Date Expectations

As of now, Microsoft has not made any official announcements about Windows 12. The company has, in fact, downplayed reports regarding Windows 12, emphasizing its commitment to providing annual updates and smaller feature enhancements for Windows 11. Nonetheless, the tech community remains eager to catch a glimpse of what might come next.

Reports suggest that Windows 12 could make its debut sometime in 2024, approximately three years after the launch of Windows 11. While this is the current projection, it’s important to remember that information is subject to change.

Historically, major Windows releases tend to arrive in the fall or the latter part of the year, but this is by no means set in stone. Microsoft may be keeping its Windows 12 plans under wraps at this stage, which leaves room for speculation.

Windows 12 for Windows Insiders

If you’re part of the Windows Insider Program, you might start seeing Windows 12 features gradually roll out over the next two years. These features may initially be labeled as Windows 11 features until we get closer to the release date.

Not all Insider Program features will necessarily make it into Windows 12, as many are delivered through smaller updates. Exclusive Windows 12 features may not surface until the release date approaches. This echoes the approach Microsoft took with Windows 11, which remained relatively secretive until it neared completion.

Is Windows 12 a Free Upgrade?

Historically, Microsoft has offered major Windows updates for free to existing Windows users. This is unlikely to change with Windows 12. However, it’s crucial to note that while updates to Windows 11 are typically free, Windows 12 itself is likely to require a purchase. If you don’t have a Windows license at all, you will still need to buy one.

Will Upgrades be Mandatory?

The most probable answer is no. Microsoft has eased its approach to compelling users to upgrade to new Windows versions forcibly. For example, Windows 11 remains an optional update for Windows 10 users, and this approach is expected to continue with future releases.

Upgrading to new Windows versions may become mandatory if your existing version is approaching the end of its support period. For instance, Windows 11’s original release will be supported for 24 months for Home and Pro editions, ensuring that users can continue to receive security updates. However, you are unlikely to be forced into immediate upgrades.

Compatibility Concerns

After Windows 11 raised minimum system requirements compared to Windows 10, there are questions about whether Windows 12 will follow a similar path. As of now, it’s too early to determine system requirements for Windows 12.

While Windows 11 already mandates processors from approximately 2018 onwards, Windows 12 might maintain this level or go beyond it. Minimum memory and storage requirements are also unclear, but it’s safe to assume that Windows 12 will have prerequisites similar to or slightly higher than those of Windows 11.

What’s New in Windows 12?

While official details about Windows 12 are scarce, various reports and leaks provide a glimpse of what this major update might entail. One notable development is the redesign of the desktop user interface, featuring a floating taskbar and a rearranged display of system icons at the top of the screen. These changes resemble aspects of macOS and some Linux distributions, indicating a potential shift in the Windows user experience.

Another expected change is a more optimized lock screen and login UI, catering to touch device users. Additionally, Windows 12 may introduce a notification center that can group notifications by contact, rather than solely by app, enhancing user interaction.

Moreover, users might have the option to pin widgets directly to the desktop, bypassing the need for a dedicated widgets panel. Additionally, there could be support for creating animated wallpapers with a parallax effect based on 2D images, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the operating system.

A More Modular Approach

Windows 12 is rumored to feature a more modular design called CorePC, allowing users to enable or disable specific OS components based on the device’s form factor and capabilities. This approach is intended to provide tailored experiences for different devices.

For example, lower-end tablets or foldable PCs may have a lighter build with specific features disabled, while traditional desktop PCs can retain full functionality. This approach aims to create lighter Windows installations and extend compatibility to lower-end hardware, potentially competing with ChromeOS.

Faster Updates

Windows 12 may introduce a feature known as state separation, separating core system components into separate partitions. This change aims to facilitate more seamless updates, with system partitions receiving updates without user intervention. This could result in faster updates, reduced downtime during installation, and improved reliability, as system files would be less likely to become corrupted.

AI Integration

Microsoft is also likely to incorporate more AI features into Windows 12. These AI capabilities could enable the operating system to recognize on-screen content and suggest context-specific actions. For instance, Windows 12 might identify objects within images, making it easier to copy and paste them elsewhere.

No Support for 32-bit Arm Apps

It’s worth noting that Windows 12 is expected to drop support for 32-bit Arm apps. This change aligns with the broader industry trend of phasing out 32-bit applications and platforms. However, the precise timing of this shift is yet to be confirmed by Microsoft.

Desired Improvements

As Windows 12 evolves, users have a wishlist of desired improvements that could enhance the overall Windows experience:

  1. Seamless Updates: Microsoft could take inspiration from platforms like ChromeOS and Android to create a more seamless update experience, reducing the need for extensive reboots and interruptions during updates.
  2. Enhanced Widgets: Users are keen for greater customization options within the Widgets board and the ability to disable or curate news feeds.
  3. Start Menu Customization: A more flexible Start menu layout, allowing users to resize it and customize the number of rows, would provide a tailored experience.
  4. Live Wallpapers: The addition of native support for live wallpapers, similar to other operating systems, could enhance visual customization.
  5. Unified Settings: Improved integration of the Settings app and Control Panel, streamlining the user experience and providing consistency.
  6. Editable Snap Layouts: Expanding the Snap Layout feature to allow easier swapping of apps within layouts for greater flexibility.
  7. Easier App Uninstallation: A universal, seamless uninstallation process for all apps, akin to Store apps, would simplify software management.
  8. Reviving Sets: The reintroduction of Sets, a feature that groups related apps into tabs for streamlined workflow organization.

While these are just some of the possible improvements that users hope to see in Windows 12, the final feature set will depend on Microsoft’s development choices and user feedback.

In conclusion, Windows 12, if it exists, holds the promise of exciting innovations and improvements in the world of personal computing. As Microsoft continues to work on the next iteration of its iconic operating system, users can look forward to a more refined and feature-rich computing experience.

The journey to Windows 12 is an evolving story that will shape the future of digital productivity and user interactions. Stay tuned for more updates as details about Windows 12 unfold.