At this time last year, the prospect of an entirely new version of Windows seemed highly unlikely. Microsoft has previously described Windows 10 as the “final version of Windows” and it continues to add new features at least twice a year.
However, the company canceled those plans with the release of Windows 11, from the abstract concept to the official announcement in a matter of weeks. The cancellation of Windows 10X influenced Microsoft’s decision, but Satya Nadella and Co have apparently been considering a new desktop operating system for a while.
There are no guarantees about the longevity of Windows 11, it makes sense that we should see a successor at some point. But could it come sooner than we expect? Rumors of a potential Windows 12 have already started circulating, with one source even hinting that development is about to get underway.
Is Windows 12 on the way?
Most likely, yes. Windows XP and Windows 7 continue to receive updates for 12 and 11 years, respectively, while Windows 10 will be around a decade when support ends in October 2025. The four key years of Windows 8 support are: exception here, but that is mainly due to its overwhelming negativity.
If Microsoft continues this trend, Windows 11 will end its life sometime between 2031 and 2033. If that’s the case, a new version will have to be released a few years earlier.
However, there are signs that Windows 12 could arrive much sooner. German tech website Deskmodder suggests Microsoft will start preparations as early as March 2022. The article cites ‘our information’, but also mentions a tweet that has now been removed from SwiftOnSecuritywho revealed it as a joke:
I deleted this tweet, it was a joke. I apologize for the misunderstanding. pic.twitter.com/0z2MZN22JM
– SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity)
February 20, 2022
When will Windows 12 be released?
That raises many doubts about the legitimacy of Deskmodder’s report. However, even if it’s accurate, Windows 12 could still be a long way off.
Developing a new operating system often takes years, especially if it’s not built on top of the Windows 10 ‘substructure’ that Windows 11 also uses.
Considering how Microsoft surprised us with the launch of Windows 11, it is impossible to predict when Windows 12 will be announced. The company has also proved to be quite effective in preventing major leaks until it is officially announced.
Will Windows 12 be free?
It should be, at least initially. Microsoft has offered a free upgrade to Windows 10, and it’s technically still available.
Updating to Windows 11 won’t cost you a dime either, as long as your device meets the hardware requirements and there’s no sign that Microsoft will end this anytime soon. If that’s the case, you could expect to pay close to the current Windows 10 asking price (from £119.99 / $139).
After Windows 12 is released, it will almost certainly be free for a while. It is clear that Microsoft will be keen to attract as many people to use the latest operating system as possible.
Will Windows 12 have different hardware requirements?
Possibly, but it’s impossible to guess what they might be. While laptops and PCs have remained the same core design for decades, many other specifications have rapidly changed over the years.
Windows 11’s hardware requirements have been controversial, but security features like TPM and Secure Boot are only likely to become more important to Microsoft in the future.
You’ll probably need a recent chip from Intel, AMD, or Qualcomm, but other chipmakers may be popular at the time. It is expected that the current minimum of 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 720p display will be increased.
What new features will Windows 12 have?
As you might expect, we don’t know what new features will be in Windows 12. At this early stage, Microsoft probably doesn’t know either.
With Windows 11 receiving new features throughout the year, many of the features that are currently rumored will likely debut before a brand new version. There have been some hints that the ‘Sun Valley 2’ update (Windows 11 was originally codenamed Sun Valley) will become Windows 12, but it is more likely the 22H2 update.
However, Deskmodder suggests that Windows 12 will be built from the ground up, rather than based on the previous version. That’s what we saw with Windows 10X, before many features were built into Windows 11.
This opens up the possibility of a completely different design, although major changes may not be popular with Windows’ huge user base.
Until more is known, check out our extensive Windows news on Tech Advisor, including Windows 10 and Windows 11.