Update: Microsoft’s ‘Build’ developers conference is taking place on May 23, and it’s possible we might get a glimpse of the next-generation OS there. We’ll update this page with any new information as it lands, so stay tuned…
Windows 12 is likely to be Microsoft’s follow-up to Windows 11 – and it could come sooner than you might think.
And while that still leaves Microsoft behind the yearly updates that macOS and some other operating systems manage, Microsoft’s upcoming ‘Moments’ releases will at least see it get more regular refreshes.
Whenever it comes, we’d like to see a bigger evolution compared to what Windows 11 brought. So, what improvements and new features might Windows 12 have? Users have been peppering Microsoft with feature requests, with some of these wishes having been granted with the 2022 update, which brought a refined Taskbar.
With this in mind, here’s everything we’ve found so far about the next major update to Windows, alongside five features that we’d also like to see arrive in Windows 12.
Windows 12: Cut to the chase
- What is it? Windows 12 is the rumored successor to Windows 11
- When will it come out? Possibly 2024 based on the three-year schedule
- How much does it cost? Should be free as Windows 11 currently is
Windows 12 release date rumors
This is still very early days for Windows 11 – we’re not even at the one-year anniversary of the update having been announced. However, going on past releases, we’d expect to see Windows 12 arrive in late 2024, just as support for Windows 10 is ending.
Windows 12 supported devices
When Microsoft announced availability for Windows 11, the main requirement was for machines to have a hardware feature called TPM enabled, which is a security feature that can be found on most motherboards.
While the same requirement will most likely be requested by Microsoft again, it may be at a point where almost every PC has TPM enabled anyway.
Other than that, it will likely have similar requirements to Windows 11:
- 64-bit processor
- 1Ghz clock speed
- 4GB of RAM
- 64GB drive
- UEFI, Secure Boot capable
- TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module)
- A display larger than 9-inches with HD Resolution (1366×768)
- DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x
- Internet connection
What we want to see
We don’t know much about Windows 12 yet, or whether the rumored upgrade will even become a reality, but we do have a good idea of what we want from it, with the following features topping our list.
1. Merge Skype and Teams into MSN Messenger 12
It’s no secret that Microsoft’s efforts on video calling and collaboration through messaging apps have been less than stellar in recent years. In a time when people needed to communicate remotely more, it was Zoom that took the lead and Skype was bafflingly left by the wayside.
While there have been some new features brought to both Teams and Skype, there’s still an air of confusion as to which one you should use. If you need to take part in a job interview that’s on Teams, for example, chances are you’ll quickly need to install the app and make sure it works.
Instead, let’s see them both retire and mark a fresh start for Windows 12, with the return of MSN Messenger to do the job these two apps have limped on with.
Not only would we like to see the return of nudges, winks, and classic sounds if users want, but we’d also be keen on powerful features to make it go toe-to-toe with Zoom, Google Meets, and FaceTime. Perhaps have integration with Slack, so if a video meeting is needed, it can prompt in a channel and with one button, MSN Messenger will launch with the required invitees.
Microsoft needs to reboot how it perceives itself for messaging apps, and the return of MSN Messenger could be a great start to that.
2. Live wallpaper
A request by TechRadar’s Senior Computing Editor Matt Hanson, and an intriguing one at that. There have been similar features in iPhones and Android phones for some years, with animations moving across these devices. But for PC and Mac, they’ve been relegated to third-party apps, such as Wallpaper Engine, to be able to have animated wallpapers with the ability to display information from your PC.
To so something similar in Windows 12, Microsoft could further push its efforts in themes, something that’s seen improvements in Windows 11, thanks to its dark themes.
Having a dedicated section for wallpapers, where you can place static bytes of information on the desktop that works with an animated live wallpaper, could appeal to all kinds of users.
Microsoft could also bring back previous wallpapers, such as the hillside of Windows XP, but have it animated, alongside some clouds displaying battery status or the weather.
This can update the desktop substantially and make it much more up to date, without having to rely on widgets or a taskbar to showcase changes.
3. Dedicated podcast app
While it’s been great to see the return of Windows Media Player from Microsoft, having additional features such as podcasts feels irrelevant for what Media Player is for.
macOS has had its own podcast app since Big Sur in 2019, but if you wanted to use a similar app on Windows, it’s not clear where to start, as Microsoft doesn’t offer a dedicated podcast app.
This is why Windows 12 should include a dedicated podcast app that could also be used on other platforms, such as iOS and Android, so your subscriptions could sync across all your devices.
Podcasts are massively popular, and managing them all in a first-party app would be great for Windows users. It’s something that could really help spur the company’s effort to make content available on almost every device.
4. Dedicated streaming app
A storming idea by our resident Computing writer Jess Weatherbed, as there is yet to be an integrated option in Windows to stream what you’re playing.
For years there have been apps such as OBS and Twitch that offer ways to stream what you’re playing or watching with others. However, these apps have always required extra effort to make sure that you’re streaming to viewers in good quality, with low latency.
Then there’s the additional aspect of the peripherals that streamers use to help show them in a better light, or Stream Decks to easily control their setups with shortcut keys.
It can be overwhelming to manage multiple apps just to control all of these, which is why Windows 12 could benefit from having one app that can manage your streams and the peripherals.
Microsoft has been pushing gaming in Windows 11 since its announcement in June 2021, with a redesigned Xbox app and HDR support. But countless gamers also stream these games through Windows, so there’s a big opportunity here.
Having one app to control, say, ring lights and the streams for viewers is appealing, shifting the heavy lifting to one app. It could automate streams based on the schedule and the games being played, alongside different lighting scenarios for the different times of the day.
This could encourage more gamers to see Windows as a service, as the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella has been stating since the release of Windows 10 in 2015, while also making Windows 12 an enticing prospect for streamers to earn more followers and income for their careers.
5. Companion app for Android
A suggestion by our Editor-in-Chief at TechRadar Pro, Desire Athow – this can be an expansion of Your Phone, Microsoft’s effort to sync your mobile to Windows. But when you open this new app in Windows 12, it would have a layout reminiscent of Windows Phone and its tile layout, and would enable a desktop experience from your phone.
This new app would go beyond DeX and Microsoft’s Your Phone efforts, though. When you connect to a monitor, it would become a fully-fledged Windows 12 desktop, showcasing everything from your main PC. And when you click on an icon, it would download the content from the cloud and display it in its native resolution.
It would be an innovative extension of the cloud, where you can access your files wherever you are. Here, you’d be carrying your desktop with you and all you’d need to do is to connect your smartphone to a monitor, either with touchscreen features or a keyboard and mouse.
As with the streaming feature above, this would again further Nadella’s plans of seeing Windows as a service. Having your PC in an app is an enticing thought, and could help for those situations when you have a short window of opportunity to do some work with a spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse somewhere.