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Windows 12 release date window speculation – everything we know

When can we expect the next Windows release?
Last Updated on June 24, 2024
Windows 12 Release Date
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Windows 11 has had a rocky timeline since its launch at the tail-end of 2021. With the initial launch beleaguered with bugs and eligibility issues, people still aren’t switching to it. And though recent developments are enough to warrant the arrival of a whole new operating system, we don’t think a Windows 12 release date is quite due this year – though this is subject to change.

Every new operating system has its issues, and we believe Windows 11 is over the worst of its problems. Keep in mind that Windows 10 support ends in the next 18 months, both consumers and manufacturers alike will need to look forward and wonder what we can expect from Windows 12.

Windows 12 release date window prediction

Some recent reports sparked speculation that Windows 12 would be far sooner than we initially thought. Reports suggested that Microsoft would be moving back to a 3-year development cycle for new Windows versions – after a 6-year gap between Windows 10 and Windows 11 seemed to cause more problems than it solved. However, those problems have kept the Windows 11 post-launch bogged down in patches and fixes for nearly 3 years, so this target is unlikely to be met.

It is most likely in active development, though. The Windows Insider Program, a quality-control branch where users help test Windows features before they are made commercially available, apparently has a development channel codenamed “Canary”, which is responsible for handling Windows 12 features. If features are going into a stress-testing phase, that means there is a working build in some form of Windows 12.

Earlier in 2024, semiconductor manufacturer Qualcomm predicted a mid-2024 surge in PC purchases, which was tied with a Windows 12 release – we think falsely so, however. Given that we’re making our way through Summer and there’s still no word, we think that the “next version of Windows” referred to on the Qualcomm transcript wasn’t Windows 12 (in fact, it isn’t mentioned by name). We believe this was actually Microsoft’s new Copilot+ PCs which – whilst having a gamut of new features and having AI-inference technology developed solely for them – are decidedly Windows 11. Support for these new AI-powered features are also likely to drain resources from other facets of operating system development, which we believe means a Windows 12 release in 2024 is unlikely.

With that in mind, we predict that the earliest we could see a Windows 12 release is in Q1 2025. Assuming that Microsoft has still made good on its self-imposed deadline to develop new Windows OS with 3 years, this would be a reasonable window for Windows to produce and stress-test the new systems – just a few months over Windows 11’s 3-year anniversary. However, given the botched reception that the aforementioned OS had, and the recent rollback on some of Copilot+’s premier features like Recall, Microsoft may focus on delaying a Windows 12 launch to avoid history repeating itself. The majority of Windows users are still on Windows 10, and prising them away from that familiar and reliable OS will require a guarantee of stability and quality.

Windows 12 possible features

In lieu of a concrete release date, what can we expect when Windows 12 does eventually launch? Microsoft has made clear of their continued development into AI technology, with Copilot+ being its first large-scale foray with Artificial Intelligence being implemented into the OS itself. Though the extent of this technology is relatively unknown – and the reception has been mixed – this will likely be a major avenue for development going forward.

Copilot+ serves as an interesting benchmark for what the company is focusing on in its new software development: an array of different programs designed to help with productivity, creativity, and even your PC’s internal capability. The AI diverts processes between different components – such as GPU and CPU – in order to deliver the best results on a moment-by-moment basis. Meanwhile, new tools like live translation or software such as Cocreator are innovative and useful additions to a PC. Improving these tools, and adding new ones, will be a primary draw of Microsoft’s new AI agenda.

One feature that may tie in with this automatic optimization is perhaps greater functionality in diagnosing issues. Whilst Microsoft’s various troubleshooters and cleanup tools are generally reliable, it can be difficult to diagnose more complex problems, with users relying on third-party tools such as Treesize to trace issues. If AI is dynamically adjusting performance, perhaps a more in-depth troubleshooter can help dynamically respond to any problems that may occur? Given the multitude of things that can go wrong with your PC, it would be better to not rely on Google to solve every problem.

Otherwise, we’re not expecting any earth-shaking alterations for Windows 12. We don’t think the general design change from Windows 11 to 12 is likely to be drastic – certainly not as drastic as the Windows 7 to Windows 8 changes. The UI for the latest Windows releases has always been easy to navigate and customize whether you prefer a minimalist display or a complex desktop. A blurry image from Microsoft’s Ignite presentation in 2023 seems to corroborate this, with small design changes such as a centralized taskbar and a search console at the top of the screen.

The alleged Windows 12 design (Source: Microsoft Ignite)

Whether this is a de facto design feature or simply a display option is unknown, but the decluttered taskbar and ease of access is a welcome change – though it does bring Apple’s own minimalist OS layout to mind.

Will Windows 12 have Copilot?

Considering Microsoft’s focus on Copilot this year, we fully expect Windows 12 to introduce new AI technology – especially as a number of Copilot+ PCs have been released recently. The AI companion will more than likely be a prominent feature of the new operating system, though we’ll have to wait and see how Copilot+ develops and if it comes to x86 machines.

Will Windows 12 come out in 2024?

We don’t think that Windows 12 is ready to come out in 2024, but an early 2025 release date is the soonest we’d speculate. Microsoft’s focus this year seems to be on the introduction of Copilot+ PCs, all of which (so far) are based on Windows 11. No word about its successor has been officially confirmed, and we can go back as far as February for news that Windows 12 won’t be arriving in 2024.

Final thoughts

It’s hard to predict exactly how Windows will innovate, as it leads to effectively baseless speculation. Microsoft is doubling down on AI-powered PCs, and we’ll likely see it implemented on a wide scale come the Windows 12 release date. What else that future holds, however, is as yet unknown.

Angus Warrender is a PCGuide Writer and Editor. He's interested in a range of tech, from cameras to consoles, and has an eye for spotting the best products on the market!