No Windows 12 update in 2024? What we know
We do not know much about Microsoft's plans for 2024 and beyond when it comes to the Windows operating system. Rumors suggest that the company could release Windows 12 this year, but others suggest that this won't be the case after all.
Microsoft maintains two client operating systems at the time. There is Windows 10, released in 2015 and about to expire in 2025, and Windows 11, released in 2021.
Windows 10 customers may extend support for at least three years in 2025. This extends the lifetime of the operating system to at least the end of 2028, but may not be free.
Windows 11 is Microsoft's current client operating system. It has received two feature updates already, the latest, Windows 11 version 23H2, in late 2023.
We do know that Microsoft is pushing what it calls AI PCs in 2024. The first Surface devices of 2024 will be AI PCs and plenty of other manufacturers will also release AI PCs.
AI PCs will have Neural Processing Unit (NPU) chips, which help with the processing of data.
The first AI PCs will be released before the next major update release for Windows. At least some experts thought that these would be powered by the next version of Windows, which everyone calls Windows 12 because Microsoft has not confirmed it or its name yet.
Now, it looks as if things are again in flux. Windows 12 might not be released in this form after all. Instead, Microsoft may release a major update for Windows 11, which contains the improvements that would have made it into Windows 12.
All of this comes without confirmation from Microsoft at this point. If the rumors are true, the next Windows 11 feature update will focus on AI. While AI is the focus, sources close to Microsoft tell me that Microsoft plans to introduce a large number of non-AI improvements in the next release.
Windows Central lists features that may be in the next Windows 11 feature update. These include abilities to create 7-Zip and Tar archives, a new Energy Saver mode or the long-awaited suggestions feature for Snap Layouts.
This year's Windows 11 release
A report claims that Microsoft Windows AI PCs will require at least 16 GB of RAM. This is another puzzle piece that does not seem to fit well with what we know so far about Microsoft's plans. At least one AI PC, Dell's XPS 13, will have an 8 GB of RAM configuration option.
One explanation for this could be the following. Windows AI PCs will run Windows 11 just like any other PC. Certain AI functionality on these PCs, maybe those that have to do with local processing, may require 16 GB of RAM.
That's a lot of mays, but large language models clearly work better with NPUs and lots of RAM.
Regular Windows PCs, the majority of PCs that run Windows 11 right now, may not benefit from some of the AI features that Microsoft may introduce in the 2024 update for the operating system.
Will Microsoft release "just" a Windows 11 update in 2024? It is certainly a possibility. This update will infuse more AI into Windows, and some of these features may require a NPU and 16 GB of RAM. Another potential is that the 16 GB are recommendations, but not minimum requirements for AI functionality.
The next Windows release is expected in the second half of 2024. It could come preloaded on some Windows AI PCs, or they could get a priority upgrade to it once it is released.
Whether it is called Windows 11 version 24H2 or something else remains to be seen. The coming months will shed light on this.
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