Windows 12 is Coming - Are You Ready?
Jul 10, 2023 9:00 AM

Windows 12 is Coming - Are You Ready?

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It seems like Yesterday that we got Windows 11

Windows 12 is all set to release, making it seem like we just had Windows 11 released. Its announcement has raised several questions like, is it not a bit too soon? Do people even use Windows 11? Is it a complete overhaul? Windows 11 made its debut on Oct. 5, 2021, over six years after Windows 10.

Microsoft has recently rolled out the first significant update for the OS, Windows 11 version 22H2. Microsoft might be planning to abandon major yearly updates and introduce a brand new version of Windows every three years. However, they haven't officially proclaimed the introduction of a new version. Reports on Windows 12 are being downplayed by the company, which remains dedicated to yearly updates and minor feature updates for Windows 11.


Windows 12: Everything we know and what we want to see

Windows 11 was released on Oct. 5, 2021, over six years after Windows 10 made its debut. Microsoft recently released the first major update for the OS — Windows 11 version 22H2 — but we've heard the next thing on the cards could very well be Windows 12. It sounds like Microsoft is doing away with major annual updates, and instead going for a big, new version of Windows every three years, similar to what used to happen before Windows 10.

Microsoft hasn't officially announced a new version of Windows. In fact, it's downplayed reports we've heard about Windows 12. Officially, the company is committed to annual updates and smaller feature updates for Windows 11. Still, it's never too early to start looking ahead, and there's a good chance we'll see a follow-up to Windows 11 at some point in the future. Let's take a closer look at what we expect for now.

When will Windows 12 be released?

According to reports, the next major version of Windows is going to launch at some point in 2024, roughly three years after Windows 11's debut. That's all we really have right now, and it might be a while before we have any more information. If past releases are any indication, Windows 12 should arrive in the fall, or at least the second half of the year, but that's not set in stone. Microsoft has denied the reports that it's working on Windows 12, but considering we're still some time away from its launch, the company could simply be holding its cards close to its chest.

In the meantime, Windows 11 will keep getting updates, and sometimes, it may get some new features, so it won't feel like the operating system is stale. Windows 11 version 22H2 was released in September with a lot of new features including Start menu folders and new touch gestures, for example. More recently, in November, we got the first "moment" update for version 22H2, which added features like File Explorer tabs. We're expecting at least two more of these moment updates in 2023, so Windows 11 will still evolve in the meantime.

If you're in the Windows Insider Program, you might see Windows 12 features show up gradually over the next two years, though Microsoft will likely keep labeling them as Windows 11 features until we're much closer to the release date. Not every feature in the Insider Program will be part of Windows 12, though, as many of them roll out via smaller updates, but some of them may be looking further ahead. We might not see Windows 12 exclusive features until we're closer to its release, however. After all, Windows 11 was a fairly well-kept secret until it was almost finished.

Will Windows 12 be a free upgrade?

One of the big questions you're likely to have is whether you'll have to pay to upgrade to Windows 12 when (and if) it releases, but thankfully, that's unlikely. Microsoft has been set on offering major Windows updates for free to existing Windows users for a few years now, and it only makes sense for that to continue. Of course, Windows 12 itself likely won't be free, so if you don't have a Windows license at all, you're still going to have to buy it.

What might get you to spend money is whether your PC is compatible with it, but that's a different matter worthy of its own section.

Will I be forced to upgrade?

The most likely answer to this is no. Microsoft has significantly eased up on its push to get users to install new versions of Windows by force. Windows 11 is still an optional update for Windows 10 users, and most likely, that approach will continue with future releases.

Updating to new versions of Windows can be mandatory if your version of Windows is nearing the end of its support period. For example, the original release of Windows 11 will be supported for 24 months if you have a Home or Pro edition of Windows. So, while Windows 11 version 22H2 isn't mandatory, it will probably be installed automatically in 2023, so you can keep getting security updates going forward.

However, if you look at what's happening with Windows 10, Microsoft is still delivering security updates for that operating system, and there are new feature updates every year. They don't actually add big new features, but they extend the support period for your PC. Windows 10 as a whole is supported until October 2025, and instead of pushing users to Windows 11, Microsoft is keeping them on Windows 10 through these smaller updates. It's likely that Windows 11 will receive the same treatment once Windows 12 is released, so you won't be forced to upgrade.

Can my PC run Windows 12?

After Windows 11 significantly raised the minimum system requirements compared to Windows 10, this is another great question to ponder. Will Windows 12 leave older PCs behind once again? It's too early to say, but there's certainly a chance that some PCs won't be compatible for one reason or another. Windows 11 currently requires processors released from around 2018 onward, and while we currently don't see a reason for the next Windows release to require more than that, it's possible that will happen.

As for any other requirements, again, it's hard to say. Windows 11 requires 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, so at the very least, Windows 12 will need just as much. You also shouldn't expect Microsoft to walk back on things like TPM requirements. However, if history is any indication, there will likely continue to be some kind of workaround that unsupported PCs can use to install it if you're feeling adventurous.

Either way, almost all the best laptops you can buy today will likely support Windows 12 when it releases.

What's new in Windows 12?

It's still too early to know for sure what Windows 12 will encompass. However, some reports and leaks have given us a look at what might be part of this major update.

A new desktop UI

While Microsoft hasn't officially announced Windows 12, we recently got an early look at a prototype. Microsoft inadvertently showed off a concept for Windows 12 during the Microsoft Ignite keynote hosted by CEO Satya Nadella. The concept shows a few interesting changes, including a floating taskbar and some system icons that are now displayed at the top of the screen, such as the Wi-Fi and battery indicators, along with a weather widget. This would make Windows more similar to macOS or some Linux distributions.

Of course, we're still a couple of years out from the expected release date, so this is likely a very early design prototype. It might change significantly or be scrapped altogether before Windows 12 actually launches, but it gives us some interesting elements to analyze. Windows 11 made big changes to the taskbar for the first time in years, and if this concept is anything to go by, Windows 12 will make even more drastic changes to the experience we've grown accustomed to.

Other changes that have been reported include a new lock screen and login UI that's more optimized for touch devices, and a new notification center that can group notifications by contact, and not just by app. It's also expected you might be able to pin widgets to the desktop rather than having to use the dedicated widgets


Windows 12: The New Epoch in Computing?

The looming release of Windows 12 suggests a major shift in Microsoft’s approach. Rather than focusing on incremental annual updates, the company might deliver leaps in technology. This could rejuvenate the tech industry every three years. Still, this is speculative till an official announcement is made. Irrespective of their decision, Microsoft is currently dedicated to refining and enhancing Windows 11 with minor updates.

Learn about Windows 12 is Coming - Are You Ready?

Windows 12 is the next potential version of Windows from Microsoft, coming after Windows 11, which was released in October of 2021. It is speculated that Windows 12 will be released every three years, similar to the release pattern of Windows versions before Windows 10. Microsoft has yet to officially announce the release of Windows 12, though reports have been circulating that Microsoft is developing the OS. Windows 12 is expected to be a major overhaul for the Windows operating system, introducing new features and capabilities. Speculated features include improved security, improved performance, more personalization options, greater cloud integration, and more. It is unclear when Windows 12 will be released, though Microsoft is committed to annual updates for Windows 11. In the meantime, users of Windows 11 can take advantage of the latest version, 22H2, which was released in October 2021 and offers new features and capabilities. Windows 12 is expected to be a major step forward for Windows users, and developers have already begun to speculate about what the OS might look like. In the meantime, users of Windows 11 can take advantage of the latest version and prepare for the potential release of Windows 12 in the future.

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