Microsoft has changed the operating system development program and Windows 12 is on the horizon as the next major version. When will it be published? What novelties will it present? What hardware requirements will you have? Will it be free? How long will it be supported? We will try to answer these and other questions with the information we have so far.
Setting the context, saying that Microsoft trusted Windows 10 to be “your latest operating system”. To do this, he adopted a model of continuous updating in the form of ‘rolling release‘ used by Linux distributions and that would allow it to be always updated. It soon became clear that the company would not be able to maintain this model and after some disastrous updates in terms of stability, it gradually reduced the biannual release schedule with some updates that were no more than a mere service pack.
Of course, Windows 10 was not “the last” and Microsoft published Windows 11 with the same core, some of the aesthetic aspects developed for Windows 10X, greater integration of the Fluent Design language, renewal of the applications and internal tools that are delivered with the system and some (few) new features such as the Android Subsystem for Windows.
Light news for a “new” Windows, but quiet: Windows 11 won’t be the last either. Microsoft has opted for a new engineering schedule with which the company would resume a three-year release cycle for major versions of Windows. Or what is the same, a new Windows every three years. This cycle is not new (it was used in Windows 7 and Vista) and it has its advantages since it improves the general stability and quality of software. To keep the system updated, the program also contemplates the delivery of new functions with specific releases of what they call internally ‘Moments’.
Windows 12 on the way
Last October, during the Ignite professional conference, someone from Microsoft was kind enough to sneak in some screenshots of what the media and analysts considered to be the initial traces of Windows 12. It was only possible to see changes in the general user interface that we will review below. , but it was the first time that the development of a new version of Windows was “officially” confirmed. We update you on what we know and what we can expect based on some questions and answers.
Do we know the release date of the next Windows?
If the new engineering schedule and the release of new major versions of Windows every three years come to fruition, the chosen date for the release of Windows 12 would be October 2024. Following the calendar, we could expect Windows 13 in 2027 and Windows 14. in the fall of 2030.
Which will be his name?
They say the internal name is ‘Next Valley’, which makes sense considering that Windows 11’s is ‘Sun Valley’. Beyond this, the commercial name cannot be specified, although everything indicates that Microsoft will follow the strategy of using the Windows name plus a number. It hasn’t always been like this and let’s remember, for example, Windows Vista. Or bypassing a Windows 9 jumping directly to Windows 10.
Will it be free?
Yes, for upgrades from previous systems on computers with a valid license. Microsoft launched a free upgrade program in Windows 10 that was originally only supposed to last a year, but seven years later it still works. Windows 12 would follow the strategy, update computers with Windows 10 and 11 for free, and be the reference version for pre-installations on OEM computers from its very launch. Microsoft and third-party providers would sell licenses in retail, for new equipment created by users, those from manufacturers that are sold without a system or for virtual machines.
How will it be updated?
Windows Update will continue to be the preferred way to update between versions, with the ability to keep installed files, apps, and user data. ISO images will also be released for media creation, ‘clean’ installations from scratch and use in virtual machines. The feature updates of the version will arrive through the so-called “Moments”, while the security updates will be maintained -at least- with the monthly patches. A big improvement in the distribution should come from the use of UUP (Unified update platform) local that promises 30% faster and lighter Windows update downloads.
Will the hardware requirements increase?
Increasing hardware requirements and chaotic management by Microsoft have penalized Windows 11’s market share. We don’t think Microsoft is going to remove the TPM and Secure Boot requirements, but hopefully more clarification in this section and compliance with the same since those of Windows 11 have come to nothing by being able to skip them in various ways. In Windows 12, the TPM would be mandatory if the Microsoft Pluton security chip integrated into the same CPUs is confirmed. Perhaps the minimum RAM memory will also increase, since it has been verified that the 4 GB is insufficient and given the improvement in the level of hardware in the PC market.
What will its life cycle be?
Windows 12 will coexist with Windows 11 at its launch and -if the three-year calendar is confirmed- it would have a useful life of at least six years, extended according to business needs in companies with the extended support phase. Windows 13 would repeat the same cycle, with which Microsoft would always keep two versions active and officially supported.
Do we know its main news?
What we have seen so far are changes in the user interfacewith a new floating taskbar at the bottom, system icons at the top right, a floating search box at the top center, and widgets like weather at the top left.
It is certain that Microsoft will continue to deploy its Fluent Design language throughout the interface, with the general idea of achieving an ultimate interface to scale to any device, better optimized for touch screens, but without diminishing the experience (as happened with Windows 8). for the millions of users who use Windows on the desktop with keyboard and mouse.
The general channel launch of the Android Subsystem for Windows should take place in Windows 12, along with full integration with the Android system that Microsoft has adopted as its own and that is in line with “whole ecosystem” that Apple has with iOS and macOS, with applications recognizable in both and a lot of functions from mobile to PC and vice versa.
Microsoft has updated a few of the applications considered system in Windows 11, from file explorer to notepad, and we assume that it will continue with the rest. Also pending is the transfer of management functions from the Control Panel to the general Configuration tool. It is not ideal for advanced users, but it is the strategy followed so far.
End by citing the latest statements by Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and Product Manager, Panos Panay, in relation to the fact that the next Windows will be powered by artificial intelligence in performance, search, or security tasks. Given the pasture that Microsoft is investing in OpenAI (the organization behind ChatGPT) we must find news in this section.
And the future of Windows?
If you have read the previous point, you will agree with us that the “revolution” that Microsoft has been thinking about for a decade will have to wait. Windows has legacy components dating back to Windows 95, such as the aforementioned control panel and others. The company would like to leave them behind, but let’s see who will bell the cat considering that the Windows hardware and software ecosystem is monstrous today and must be endured.
The answer should come one day with developments like the interesting Windows Core OS, which appeared a few years ago and was expected to be released on the folding Surface, but it definitely did not arrive and we really have no idea what stage it is in. As its name indicates, it would include a basic core to which layers would be added based on modules to adapt to each device where it was executed.
Furthermore, Windows Core OS would remove all previous legacy components. It would natively run Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and also PWAs (Progressive Web Apps). It is not known how Microsoft would support the Win32 applications that are still used by millions on the computer desktop and that are the big problem for Microsoft to bet on a revolutionary Windows.
Another novelty would be the addition of components open source in an approach that seems unstoppable seeing CEO Nadella’s “love” towards Linux and the applications released for Windows in recent years such as the Windows Terminal command line, the Winget package manager or the same Linux Subsystem for Windows.
Within this group we have known internal development to improve the security of the open source components of Windows and also the “containers” project that would be the key to run Win32 applications in this Core OS that should break new ground for Windows.