Windows 12 desktop preview

Windows 12: new features, changes, release date (so far)

Here's everything there's to know about Windows 12 thus far.

  • Windows 12 release date is expected to be in 2025.
  • The new version of Windows will be packed with new features powered by AI and will introduce a more advanced version of Copilot.

UPDATED 1/26/2024: Windows 12 is the next version of the operating system that is expected to be released sometime in 2025. (Presumably during the second half of the year). Previously, it was believed that the new version would roll out in September or October 2024, but this was a rumor. However, the company is now expected to release Windows 11 24H2 in 2024 instead. 

The reason is that there’s currently a fragmentation of versions, and Microsoft wants to stop further division of devices based on product releases due to users’ slow pace of adoption. At this point, the desktop version of the operating system has around 1.4 billion active users, and only 400 million are running Windows 11, and the remaining billion are still on Windows 10, primarily due to unsupported hardware that doesn’t allow users to upgrade.

As a result, if the company introduces another version (Windows 12), the fragmentation will be even higher, and the adoption rate could drop even more than Windows 11.

Although Microsoft hasn’t officially revealed any details of the next major upgrade of Windows, some information has been surfacing, giving us a glimpse of what we can expect to find on “Windows 12”

This guide highlights the new features and changes that (I think) may roll out as part of Windows 12.


These are the new features and details you need to know about Windows 12:

  • New advanced Copilot.
  • New timeline feature powered by AI.
  • Enhanced search with AI.
  • New upscaling capabilities for videos and games.
  • New live wallpapers with parallax effect via AI.
  • New floating Taskbar and new top bar.
  • Windows 12 release date is expected to be in 2025.
  • Higher hardware requirements.

What’s new on Windows 12?

Windows 12 is set to introduce many new features, improvements, updates to existing features, and various visual changes. The company will also focus heavily on adding more AI features and rolling back to one major update per year.

Since Microsoft also plans to release a major refresh of the operating system in 2024, the set of features that belong to Windows 11 24H2 and Windows 12 are unclear. However, I’ll outline the new features and changes rumored to come to the operating system.

New AI features 

As part of this new version, Windows 12 primary focus will be AI features, and Microsoft is already working on improvements to optimize AI for the next version of the operating system.

For example, the development team is working on a more advanced version of Copilot that will run constantly in the background to enhance search, understand context, and quickly help users start a new project or app. Also, the system may be able to detect objects and text in images so that users can extract that content with a simple copy-and-paste action.

A new version of the timeline with AI capabilities and filters will allow users to scroll apps and websites back in time to find specific content. 

The search experience will be improved with the ability to use natural language to find files, settings, and apps on your computer. 

On the desktop experience, the company is working on a new wallpaper feature that will use AI to analyze the image and detect the layers to create a parallax effect. The new operating system will be able to use AI to upscale videos and games through the use of an NPU. Live Captions will offer real-time translations of subtitles for video and voice calls and more.

New visual changes 

The visual changes that will roll out with Windows 12 are unclear. However, the company has shown bits of a new design concept for the desktop that features a new floating Taskbar with rounded corners and a new top bar interface with weather, time, and notification information that could bring the desktop to a similar design found on macOS and distros of Linux.

Will Windows 12 be a free upgrade?

The short answer is “yes.” Windows 12 is expected to be available as a free upgrade for devices already running Windows 11 or Windows 10.

The new version is expected to become available for compatible system configurations through Windows Update as an optional install since Microsoft is unlikely to force the upgrade to devices. In addition, the company will likely offer the ISO file, Media Creation Tool, and Installation Assistant tool available to install the new version.

If you have a device that has never had an installation of Windows, you will need to purchase a Windows 12 product key, which would likely cost as much as the activation of Windows 11 costs – $140 for the “Home” edition and $200 for the “Pro” edition.

Will Windows 12 increase hardware requirements?

The answer is likely to be “yes” since Windows 12 may increase the hardware requirements, but thus far, it appears that only the memory requirement will change from 4GB to 16GB for some AI features. Similar to its predecessor, the new version will continue to require the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip. Secure Boot isn’t a requirement, but it’s recommended.

Also, the Pluton security chip may become an optional requirement for devices that include the feature, and Neural Processing Units (NPUs) may be required for some specific advanced AI features.

Although some of the requirements may change, if you already have a device running Windows 11, it’ll likely support the upgrade to Windows 12.

What’s the release date of Windows 12?

Windows 12 is expected to be released in the fall of 2025, during the September and October timeframe.

Starting with this release, Microsoft is also expected to roll back from the three-year release cycle to one feature update per year. In addition, “moment” updates will no longer be a thing, but the operating system will occasionally receive updates with new features outside major release schedules.

Also, the company plans to ship this new version as a full upgrade that will require reinstallation rather than a small enablement package, as we have seen on version 23H2.

Microsoft is already testing the early code of the new platform, which anyone can download and install through the Canary Channel in the Windows Insider Program.

Should I wait to upgrade to Windows 12?

Yes. Although it’s too early to tell, upgrading a device during the early days of the rollout is usually not recommended, as the operating system may still include some known issues and compatibility problems.

If you have a device running Windows 10, you shouldn’t wait until Windows 12 is released. You should upgrade to Windows 11 and then wait for at least four cumulative update releases before upgrading to Windows 12.

Update January 26, 2024: This content has been updated to reflect that the latest rumors suggest that the new version of the operating system won’t be released until 2025 as Microsoft wants to keep Windows 11 a little longer.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].