It might feel odd to ponder on Windows 12 when Windows 11 isn’t yet two years old. But Windows 12 rumors and hints at where Microsoft could take its next operating system have been bubbling up recently.
Now Windows 12 is almost certainly over 18 months away, with murmurings of a 2024 release data being thrown around. So there's scope for a lot more improvements to come for Windows 11 first, in addition to more leaks and rumors around Windows 12.
Windows 12 is likely to be an evolution of the changes established with Windows 11, which offered a rather big overhaul over Windows 10, though it did keep some familiar design elements.
So with that in mind, here’s what we think we know so far about Windows 12.
Windows 12 rumored release window
A recent leak that apparently came from Intel revealed how its future chips will apparently support Windows 12 when they arrive in 2024. From that we can posit that 2024 would be the earliest we could see a new version of Windows.
Windows 12 would likely debut later in 2024, probably around the fall, which would put it in line with the three-year cycles of Windows releases. That cycle was thought to be over with Windows 10 originally touted to be an ever-evolving operating system, but it now looks like Microsoft could return to its three-year release cadence.
Other reports have also hinted at 2024 being the potential release date for Windows 12. But it’s worth noting that concrete details haven't surfaced, and Microsoft has said nothing about a next-gen Windows.
Windows 12 rumored features and upgrades
If there's one thing we can be fairly confident about, it’s that artificial intelligence is likely to play a big part in Windows 12. With Microsoft having integrated ChatGPT with its Bing browser, it’s likely to go further and use the chatbot in Windows 12.
A recent tidbit hinted Microsoft could rely a lot more on machine learning — basically, the tech that underpins a lot of so-called AI chatbots — to better provide context-sensitive information and assistance when carrying out everyday computing tasks in Windows 12. The alleged leak could be hinting at potential updates for Windows 11 in order to add more smart features into the OS.
But even if that's the case we’d expect Windows 12 to double down on AI-related or adjacent tools and services. After all, Microsoft has invested heavily (reportedly some $10 billion) into OpenAI, the organization behind ChatGPT, so would likely want to capitalize on its AI tech investment.
Whatever Microsoft does with AI tech, it’ll need to be more useful than its virtual assistant Cortana. Originally a core part of Windows 10, Cortana didn't win over users and ended up being somewhat divested into an app rather than a main feature in the Start menu. But the integration of, say, a ChatGPT client could be a lot more useful, especially with its ability to better understand questions posed in natural conversational language.
Apparently, Microsoft has already started testing “major changes” via new Canary Channels for Windows Insider builds that may find their way to Windows 12. What these changes might be wasn't made clear but it could hint that some big parts of Windows could change with its next-generation release.
Windows 12 what we’d like to see
Given Windows 11 still feels like a work in progress, it can be tricky to come up with a wishlist for a next-generation operating system when the current one is improving with each update.
But we’d like to see Windows 12 launch with all its core features enabled, something Windows 11 didn't manage. For example, access to Android apps was touted but then limited to the U.S. in the early days of the operating system’s life. Speaking of which, it would be good if there was a dedicated Android app to sync between the best Android phones and Windows. With Windows 11 you need to use the Your Phone app, which isn’t the newest or most intuitive given it had a more mobile-centric interface for a mostly mouse-driven UI.
We’d also like to see Windows 12 have a much less rocky launch than Windows 11, which had all manner of bugs when it was released. Sure these got patched, but it was hardly the best start for a new OS.
More customization out of the virtual box is something we’d like to see from Windows 12. Windows has always been seen as one of the most flexible and customizable operating systems. But Windows 11 felt, and arguably still feels, rather limited with what you can do. We would like a whole host of options to make Windows 12 feel like an operating system built around users rather than forcing users to adapt to what may at times seem like arbitrary changes.
We'd also like to see some more harmonious merging of Microsoft-owned apps, say mixing in Skype with a consumer version of Teams, rather than having two disparate services that feel like they can’t compete with Zoom or Google Meet.
As Windows is the default gaming platform, it would be good if Windows 12 had more gaming-centric features built in.
While Windows 11 has the Xbox app, I’d like to see some form of native overclocking and the ability to sync up various components and peripherals that have RGB capabilities instead of needing to use multiple third-party apps. This could also be extended to game streaming so that there’s easy control over things like screen recording, audio balancing and switching to any low-latency modes. Microsoft could work with the likes of Razer, Philips and Elgato to provide the tools and APIs to allow for integration in a single universal app or interface.