Microsoft Build 2024 preview — AI laptops, Copilot, Windows 12 and what else we expect

Microsoft Build 2024 Teams background image provided by Microsoft
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Update: Our Microsoft Build live blog is up and running. Follow along for all the latest news around AI, new Surface PCs and more. 

The 2024 Microsoft Build developer conference kicks off this week, and if prior years are any indication, it's likely to bring us a smorgasbord of announcements about Windows 11, Microsoft Copilot and more.

This is a big deal for Windows fans because not only do we expect to hear about a bunch of new features and products from Microsoft, we also expect a lot of laptop and PC makers to unveil new Windows devices that will be coming out this year. 

It's a safe bet that many of those laptops will have "AI" splattered all over their marketing materials, since it's the marketing buzzword du jour for laptops and PCs in 2024. The rise of the AI laptop shows no signs of slowing, and it's likely to get a lot more exciting if the predicted Build 2024 debut of a slew of AI laptops equipped with Qualcomm's new Snapdragon X chips proves true. 

Leaked Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus and Snapdragon X Elite benchmarks suggest the chips could compete with the latest Intel Meteor Lake chips and even the Apple M3 chip which drives the latest MacBooks. And with Microsoft continuing to push "AI" into every corner of its business, it's a safe bet that whatever new laptops we meet at Build 2024 will be showcasing the latest AI features coming to Windows.

Heck, we may even get a glimpse of Windows 12 (or whatever the next version ends up being branded) at Build, though I've heard conflicting reports of whether Microsoft really plans to ship a new version of its flagship OS before 2025. 

We'll find out next week at Microsoft Build 2024, where I'll be reporting live and chatting with Microsoft representatives while our intrepid team works to bring you all the latest news as it breaks. Here's what we're expecting to see at the show.

New Windows 11 & Copilot features

Windows Copilot key

(Image credit: Microsoft)

First and foremost, we expect to hear a lot about new features and upgrades coming to Microsoft services in the year ahead. 

I expect Windows and Copilot will be the stars of the show as Microsoft pushes AI ever further into its products. We'll almost certainly see a sizzle reel or two chock-full of new ways to tell Copilot what to do, as well as new capabilities for the service and new ways in which it will integrate with Microsoft products like Excel, Teams, Word, PowerPoint and more.

When it happens, keep an eye out for release dates and for disclaimers about which features will get locked up behind the $20/month paywall of Copilot Pro. Microsoft has a habit of announcing new Copilot features that take months to actually roll out to users, and now that the company has a clear monetization scheme for the service I have no doubt that many of the coolest and most useful features will either be offered in limited access or be entirely unavailable to folks without a Copilot Pro subscription.

New AI laptops powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon X chips

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite laptops

(Image credit: Future)

I also expect there to be a ton of new Snapdragon laptops announced next week that are timed to Build 2024. 

We know, for example, that Dell will be hosting its Dell Technologies World event in Las Vegas the same week as Build, which means we'll almost certainly hear about some new Dell notebooks powered by the Snapdragon X Plus and Snapdragon X Elite

We've also seen leaks about upcoming products that reinforce this, like a new model of the Dell XPS 13 Plus leaked to debut with Snapdragon X Elite onboard. In fact, rumor has it Dell will be announcing a few new versions of its laptops powered by Qualcomm's new chips, which is a big deal because notebooks powered by the Snapdragon X Elite could crush Intel-powered laptops in at least one key area: battery life.  

Even the best Windows laptops have struggled to keep up with Apple's laptops in this key performance area since MacBooks started shipping with Apple silicon inside. But Qualcomm has been beating its chest about how powerful and power-efficient its new Snapdragon laptop chips are, claims I'm eager to see backed up by results in our laptop testing lab. 

And I don't think Dell will be the only major laptop maker dropping some new Snapdragon laptops during Build, either—we've seen credible reports of a Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Edge with Snapdragon X Elite coming soon, as well as a Microsoft Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 with Snapdragon X Elite onboard.

Personally I really hope that last report proves true, because the debut of the Surface Pro 10 for Business and Surface Laptop 6 for Business earlier this year was a real letdown. Neither device features meaningful improvements or upgrades over their predecessors, which is especially painful when you consider that the Surface lineup (with the possible exception of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2) has been boring, moribund and in dire need of a serious redesign for years. 

But even at the time of their announcement the "for Business" suffix made it clear these new Surfaces were not intended for use as personal laptops, so I'm hopeful we'll see more consumer-minded versions unveiled at Build 2024 with Snapdragon chips inside and some compelling new features.

The next version of Windows?

Windows 12 logo concept

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The prediction I'm least certain about is that we'll get a tease of the next version of Windows at Build 2024.

While Microsoft hasn't said much of anything concrete about what's coming next for Windows, Qualcomm's CEO did in an earnings call earlier this year. Specifically, company chief Cristiano Amon said that laptops packing the new Snapdragon X Elite chips will debut in "mid-2024" and that their launch will coincide with the "next version of Windows."

So since we're expecting to see the first Snapdragon X Elite laptops at Build 2024, it sure sounds like we'll also get at least a sneak peek of the next version of Windows.

But the question is, will that really be a whole new Windows release with a new name, like Windows 12? Or will it be a big feature update for Windows 11 that Microsoft spins as "the next version of Windows"? 

I think it could go either way, but in my heart of hearts I have a hard time believing we'll see a whole new version of Windows before 2025. Windows 11 launched in October 2021, so for Microsoft to turn around and put out a new version within 3 years seems like a stretch.

But then, the AI PC craze has seemed like nothing but a huge stretch on the part of Intel, Microsoft and others to try and boost PC sales after the post-pandemic slump. A new version of Windows, with a big focus on on-device AI features and capabilities, could be one way for Microsoft to push people toward buying new AI PCs.

Outlook

If you care about Windows PCs, Build 2024 is worth paying attention to because it's likely we'll be hearing about a ton of new features and products that will be coming in the year ahead.

Of course, you better brace yourself to hear "AI" said at least a few hundred times over the course of the week. All signs point to that being Microsoft's focus for at least the next year, so expect there to be a heaping dose of AI included in whatever announcements we get about new Windows features for Windows and new Snapdragon X laptops.

I'll be there in person and the rest of our team will be covering Build 2024 remotely all week, so check back early Monday for our live coverage, which will include interviews and hands-on reports about the new features coming to Microsoft products in the year ahead. Stay tuned!

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Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.