Image: Microsoft (edited)

Is Microsoft planning a successor to Windows 11?

At this time last year, the possibility of a completely new version of Windows seemed highly unlikely. Microsoft previously described Windows 10 as the “last version of Windows,” and it continues to add new features at least twice a year.

However, the company tore up those plans with the release of Windows 11, which went from an abstract concept to an official announcement within weeks. The cancellation of Windows 10X affected Microsoft’s decision, but it’s clear that Satya Nadella and Co have been thinking about a new desktop operating system for a while.

With no guarantees regarding the life of Windows 11, it makes sense to see a successor at some point. But could it be arriving sooner than we expected? Rumors of a possible Windows 12 are already starting to circulate, with one source even indicating that development is about to begin.

Is Windows 12 on the way?

Most likely yes. Windows XP and Windows 7 have been receiving updates for 12 and 11 years respectively, while Windows 10 will be ten years old when support ends in October 2025. Windows 8 base support for four years is the exception here, but that’s because Mainly due to its overwhelming negative reception.

If Microsoft continues in this trend, Windows 11 will reach its end of life sometime between 2031 and 2033. If so, you will need a new version available a few years ago.

However, there are signs that Windows 12 may arrive much sooner. German tech website Deskmodder suggests that Microsoft begin preparations as soon as March 2022. The article cites “our information”, but also refers to a now-deleted tweet from SwiftOnSecuritywho has since revealed it as a joke:

When will Windows 12 be released?

This raises many doubts about the legitimacy of the Dickmoder report. However, even if it turns out to be accurate, Windows 12 may still go away.

It usually takes years to develop new operating systems, especially if it’s not built on the Windows 10 “infrastructure” that Windows 11 also uses.

Given how Microsoft surprised us with the launch of Windows 11, it’s impossible to predict when Windows 12 will be announced. The company also appears to be pretty effective in preventing big leaks until the run-up to the official reveal.

Will Windows 12 be free?

It should be, at least in the beginning. Microsoft offered a free upgrade to Windows 10, and it’s still technically available.

Updating to Windows 11 won’t cost you a penny, provided your device meets the hardware requirements, and there’s no indication that Microsoft will end that anytime soon. If so, you could end up paying close to the current Windows 10 asking price (from £119.99 / $139).

Once Windows 12 is released, it will definitely be free for some time. Microsoft will understandably be keen to get as many people as possible into the new operating system.

Will Windows 12 have different hardware requirements?

Perhaps, but it is impossible to predict what they might be. While laptops and PCs have kept the same basic design for decades, a lot of other specifications have changed rapidly over the years.

Windows 11 hardware requirements have proven controversial, but security features like TPM and Secure Boot are likely to become more important to Microsoft in the future.

The first generation of Surface Go from 2018 is not compatible with Windows 11

You’ll probably need a modern chip from the likes of Intel, AMD, or Qualcomm, but other chip makers may be popular by then. Expect to increase the current minimum of 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 720p screen.

What new features will Windows 12 bring?

As you might expect, we have no idea what new features will be available in Windows 12. At this early stage, it’s possible that Microsoft doesn’t know either.

With Windows 11 getting new features throughout the year, many of those currently rumored will likely arrive before a brand new release. There has been some suggestion that the ‘Sun Valley 2’ update (Windows 11 was initially called Sun Valley) will switch to Windows 12, but it will most likely be the 22H2 update.

However, Deskmodder suggests that Windows 12 be built from the ground up, rather than relying on the former. This is what we saw with Windows 10X, before many features were integrated into Windows 11.

Windows 10x

Windows 10X Start Menu will be familiar to Windows 11 users. Image: Microsoft

This opens up the possibility of a radically different design, although the big changes may not prove popular with the huge Windows user base.

So to learn more, check out our comprehensive coverage of Windows News on Tech Advisor, covering both Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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