Windows 12: What We Can Expect from the Next Major Microsoft Release.

There have been several hints about the next major Microsoft release, Windows 12, which is all but confirmed at this point. One of the possibilities is a faster update cadence than Windows 11. Another rumor is that the operating system will be more modular, with components that will live on several different partitions. Microsoft is also said to be working on new capabilities that will make the operating system easier to manage on lower-end devices while offering users the full spectrum of app compatibility with seamless updates.

In recent years, Microsoft has tried to modernize the Windows platform by building a completely separate version called Windows 10X for users who didn’t need all the legacy baggage that has accumulated in Windows over the years. However, the company scrapped the project and incorporated its ideas into Windows while removing what it considered to be superfluous apps and features, in response to the world’s transition to hybrid work and study.

Before Windows 11, Microsoft attempted to build a stripped-down, lightweight OS called “Windows Core OS.” The idea was to create a modular Windows that could be packaged with the exact features needed for the target device form factor, such as tablets, laptops, or desktop PCs. While that concept presented a lot of technical challenges, Microsoft is said to be building the successor to Windows 11 – known as Windows 12 for now and codenamed Hudson Valley – with many of the principles of Core OS in mind, as part of a project dubbed “CorePC.”

According to Windows Central’s Zac Bowden, Windows 12 will be separated into “states” that live on different partitions on the storage drive. This will reportedly make managing and updating Windows easier for Microsoft and a less frightening experience for Windows users. The different OS architecture will make it slightly easier to keep secure since system files will be separated from user files and third-party apps. Updating one part of the OS will be faster and likely won’t always require a system restart to complete. It may also become easier to wipe devices in a similar way to the “powerwash” feature found on Chromebooks.

Microsoft can lower the footprint of Windows for devices that would be slow and unresponsive when running “full-fat” Windows using this approach. A version of Windows 12 for education devices that only runs Office, Edge, Android apps, and web apps will weigh 60 to 75 percent less in terms of storage requirements when compared to Windows 11 SE. For devices that require compatibility with legacy apps, Windows 12 will have a compatibility layer dubbed “Neon” to help ease users into transitioning to the new OS.

There are also rumors of a version of CorePC/Windows 12 that will be devoid of legacy features and optimized for upcoming silicon from Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm, with a focus on AI-based features that sound like a supercharged Clippy following users around the OS with contextual suggestions.

The CorePC project is still in its infancy, and there may be changes before Microsoft ships it to users. The plan is to debut the concept with Windows 12 sometime in 2024, but that may well be delayed if the company faces any major roadblocks along the way.

In the meantime, Microsoft has already increased the feature release cadence for Windows 11 so that it can deliver them in the form of “monthly quality updates” rather than bundling them together as part of annual updates. The company is scrambling to add more AI-powered features and integrations to the OS and apps like Teams, Edge, and the Microsoft 365 suite.

The shift towards a more modular and customizable OS is part of Microsoft’s broader strategy to make Windows more adaptable to different device form factors and user needs. By breaking down the OS into smaller components that can be mixed and matched depending on the device’s specifications, Microsoft can create a more streamlined and efficient user experience that is tailored to the user’s preferences.

This approach could also help address some of the longstanding issues with Windows, such as slow boot times, bloated storage requirements, and the difficulty of managing updates. By separating the OS into different partitions, Microsoft can make the update process more efficient and less disruptive, while also reducing the overall storage requirements of the system.

Moreover, by building in more AI-based features and integrations, Microsoft is aiming to make Windows more intelligent and responsive, with features that can anticipate and adapt to the user’s needs. For example, a supercharged Clippy-like assistant could provide contextual suggestions and support throughout the OS, helping users get more done with less effort.

Windows 12 promises to be a major step forward for Microsoft, with a more modular and customizable OS that can adapt to different device form factors and user needs. While the project is still in its early stages and there are no guarantees about its release date or final feature set, it’s clear that Microsoft is investing heavily in the future of Windows, with a focus on making the OS more efficient, intelligent, and user-friendly.

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