Windows 11 has been available for a year, but there are already rumors that Microsoft is working on the successor. We summarize them.
In early 2021, the prospect of a brand-new version of Windows seemed very unlikely. In 2015, Microsoft called Windows 10 “the last version of Windows” and later qualified this statement. In the beginning, new functions with major updates were added twice a year. After the start of Windows 11, these function updates for Windows 10 are only available annually, so the latest Windows 10 update was released on October 18, 2022, with Windows 10 Version 22H2 (all details here).
With the release of Windows 11, which went from an abstract concept to an official announcement within a few weeks, the company had thrown the Windows 10 plans overboard in autumn 2021 anyway. The cancellation of Windows 10X influenced Microsoft’s decision, but Satya Nadella and the company had obviously been considering a new desktop operating system for some time.
Since there are currently no assurances regarding the lifespan of Windows 11, one can assume that there will be a successor at some point. But the question is, could the new generation be released sooner than thought? Rumors of a potential Windows 12 are already circulating and one source even claims that development is already in full swing. Let’s summarize all the information and rumors.
Is Windows 12 already on the way?
Most likely, yes! Windows XP and Windows 7 have received updates for 12 and 11 years, respectively, while Windows 10 will be a decade old when support ends in October 2025. Windows 8 is the exception, with four years of mainstream support, but that’s largely due to negative reception. If Microsoft continues this trend, Windows 11 would come to an end sometime between 2031 and 2033. When this happens, a new version of Windows has to be released a few years earlier.
However, there are rumors that Windows 12 could appear much earlier. The German tech site Deskmoddersuspects that Microsoft will begin preparations as early as March 2022. The article cites “our information” but also references a deleted SwiftOnSecurity tweet that has since been revealed to be a hoax:
When will Windows 12 be released?
After all, there are indications that Windows 12 is in development. We reported about this in July 2022 in the message: Windows 12 could appear as early as 2024. So, assuming Microsoft sticks to the three-year update cycle, Windows 12 would be released sometime in 2024. As of this writing, there are no more specific rumors and predictions that far away are almost impossible.
For comparison, Windows 11 was announced in June 2021 and officially released a few months later in October. However, it took many months to fully roll out on all compatible devices, so it will likely be similar to Windows 12.
Will Windows 12 be free?
At least it will be free at first. Finally, Microsoft also offered a free upgrade to Windows 10. Updating to Windows 11 didn’t cost a penny either, provided the device met the hardware requirements. So far there are no signs that Microsoft will discontinue this offer in the near future. If this is the case, Windows 11 should then cost as much as Windows 10 now, which is available for 145 euros.
Once Windows 12 should be released, it will almost certainly be free for a time. Microsoft will understandably be keen to attract as many users to the new operating system as possible.
Will Windows 12 have different hardware requirements?
This is likely, but it’s impossible to predict what these will look like. While laptops and PCs have shared the same core design for decades, many other specifications have changed significantly over the years.
Windows 11 hardware requirements are debatable, but security features like TPM and Secure Boot will likely only become more important to Microsoft going forward.
You’ll likely need a recent Intel, AMD, or Qualcomm chip for a Windows 12 machine. But other chip manufacturers could also be popular by then. Just expect the current minimums of 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 720p display to be increased (perhaps significantly).
What new features will Windows 12 have?
At the moment we don’t know enough to predict the new features in Windows 12. At this early stage, Microsoft probably doesn’t know that either.
However, Microsoft may have inadvertently revealed an early version of Windows 12’s user interface. A mockup at Microsoft’s Ignite conference in October 2022 shows this design:
Key features include a floating taskbar and a pill-shaped search bar at the top center, the latter reminiscent of the iPhone 14 Pro’s “Dynamic Island.” The widgets panel and action center are also located at the top of the screen rather than the bottom.
Of course, there is no guarantee that Windows 12 will look like this. A lot can change before the final release.
We assume that Windows 12 will be developed from scratch and not based on its predecessor. That’s exactly what we saw with Windows 10X before many features were built into Windows 11. Making Windows 12 stable and largely bug-free will likely be the priority, although that’s just speculation at this point.