Windows 12: New features, AI experiences, and everything we know so far

Windows 12 Fan logo
Windows 12 concept logo (Image credit: Future)

As it's already been confirmed that the big Windows OS release coming this year is another Windows 11 feature update, we know Windows 12 isn't on the docket for 2024. But that doesn't mean Windows 12 isn't ever going to happen. If a Windows 12 does eventually make its debut, what might it include, and when?

Here's everything we think we know, and what we'd like to see, in Windows 12.

Windows 12: Release date

Windows 12 splah

The next earliest date we could see a Windows 12 is in 2025. (Image credit: Windows Central)

The next version of Windows is expected to ship later this year as the Windows 11 2024 Update (also known as version 24H2.) This is, of course, a continuation of Windows 11, but this release is special as it's based on a new version of the Windows platform underneath, codenamed Germanium.

Originally, it was rumored that Germanium would serve as a base platform release for Windows 12, but the departure of ex-Windows lead Panos Panay lead Microsoft to scrap this plan, instead opting to ship the new Windows platform as a continuation of Windows 11.

Whether or not this is true, it means we're not getting a Windows 12 branded OS this year. The next earliest timeframe for a potential Windows 12 would be fall 2025, with an announcement likely taking place sometime in early summer 2025. This would follow the same path as Windows 11 did when it was unveiled in 2021. 

Windows 12: System requirements

Windows 12 could require PCs with newer processors. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Of course, since Windows 12 is a theoretical release at this point, we have no solid idea what sort of new system requirements it may impose. Windows 11's system requirements call for a PC running Intel 8th-generation or AMD Ryzen 2000 series and up CPUs. It also requires a TPM, and a minimum of 4GB RAM. A potential Windows 12 could up these requirements further.

I do suspect we might see some features (likely AI focused) be limited to more recent PCs with a neural processing unit (NPU) or GPU that can handle on-device AI processing, as the next version of Windows is said to heavily focus on AI capabilities, and not all PCs will be able to handle that functionality without the dedicated hardware.

Windows 12: User Interface

Microsoft leaked a UI concept in 2022, and this is what it looked like.  (Image credit: Zac Bowden)

In 2022, Microsoft accidentally leaked an experimental UI concept that it had been exploring for a future version of Windows. This concept placed the Taskbar system tray, search bar, and weather button along the top of the screen, and turned the area of the Taskbar with pinned and running apps into a floating dock along the bottom of the screen, similar to macOS.

Sources tell me this interface was being explored as a means to better improve Windows for tablets, while also maintaining a great experience for mice users. It featured more fluid animations and gestures, and even included an updated login screen that was more optimized for wide-screen devices. 

Because this UI concept was just an experiment, it's unknown if this design for the desktop will ever ship. But if it does, we'd wager Windows 12 is likely the first place it will show up. A new Windows product release usually comes with a significant update to the desktop UX.

Windows 12: New features

New features for Windows 12 would likely be heavily AI based.  (Image credit: Windows Central)

Once again, because Windows 12 is only a theoretical release at this point, we have no solid information about what sort of features it may include. Right now, Microsoft's big obsession is with AI experiences, which are coming to Windows 11 later this year.

A potential Windows 12 will likely further build on the AI craze with more advanced capabilities, such as an assistant that is able to provide contextual suggestions based on what you're looking at on your PC. It might be able to recognize people in emails or conversations across apps, and learn your habits to streamline workflows on your computer. 

These are all theoretical features at this time. Right now, Microsoft is working on AI Explorer for Windows 11, which will analyze everything you do on your computer and create memories that can be searched for with natural language. It will also be able to see what you're currently looking at, and provide contextual suggestions based on what it sees.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads

  • naddy69
    "Windows 11's system requirements call for a PC running Intel 8th-generation or AMD Ryzen 2000 series and up CPUs. "

    Don't forget the Arm CPUs that you were praising just a few weeks ago.

    "It also requires a TPM, and a minimum of 4GB RAM. One report claims Microsoft might up the RAM requirement from 4GB to 8GB with this next release, but I've not been able to confirm this. "

    While you can technically run Windows 11 in 4GB RAM, you can't really do very much. 8GB is already the practical minimum for Windows. And MacOS. And Linux.
  • Arun Topez
    "The reason for this, I'm told, is that the new Windows leadership team are weary of further fragmenting the Windows userbase with new versions of the product. Right now, Windows 10 has around 1 billion users, and Windows 11 has around 400 million users. Introducing a "Windows 12" would further fragment this userbase..."It sounds like the new leadership has the wrong way of thinking then. The issue isn't with the branding, it's with their over-complicated method of OS and update licensing and distribution. If Apple, Google and Linux can have simple major update branding, so can Microsoft. The issue is they treat their version number as the product name (which worked in the older days when the OS releases were every few years instead of yearly). They just need to follow what their competitors do - the product name should simply be "Windows" or "WindowsOS" and then "Windows 11", "Windows 12", etc. should be the yearly update name. That way all customers move together instead of being fragmented, and that way the only natural minor fragmentation that would occur is the update delay some enterprises choose to do. They also caused this Windows 10/11 fragmentation themselves by imposing that unnecessary spec requirement, not because of the branding.