Windows roadmap for 2024 includes innovative AI features

Microsoft is working on the next major release of Windows, and it's planning to release it in 2024 with a main focus on AI.

Copilot on Windows 11
Copilot on Windows 11 / Image: Mauro Huculak
  • Microsoft is preparing a significant Windows refresh for 2024.
  • As part of the roadmap, the release cycle rolls back to one feature update per year. 
  • The next major update will focus on integrating more AI innovations and other new features.
  • This release could be branded Windows 12, but it’s yet unclear.

Windows is now under new leadership after the departure of Panos Panay, and with new leadership, there’s a new roadmap that will define the shape of the operating system for the next few years, which will include updates for the release cycle, a lot of AI innovations, new features, and visual changes.

Under the leadership of Panos Panay, Microsoft rolled back to the idea of releasing new versions of Windows every three years with smaller (Moment) updates (roughly every quarter) to bring new features and improvements outside of major releases.

Under the new leadership, the company seems to have made the decision to roll back to releasing major releases of the operating system once a year. In other words, Microsoft now plans to release one feature update each year again, and it will continue to provide (occasionally) smaller releases to introduce new features. However, the primary focus will be the annual releases.

Windows release schedule roadmap for 2024

In a new report, Windows Central explains that Windows 11 23H2 is still scheduled to receive another more minor (Moment) update sometime in February or March, and the Hudson Valley is expected to sometime during the fall of 2024.

Copilot resize option
Copilot resize option / Image: WindowsLatest

The “Hudson Valley” update will be based on the “Germanium” platform, which the company is expected to complete in April and have it ready for August, with an official release date sometime in September or October.

However, since the new ARM devices featuring the new Snapdragon X Elite processors will depend on the innovations that are part of the Germanium platform, Microsoft plans to ship the update to PC makers as soon as June 2024 to ready their devices. But this update will only include some of the components, not all of the planned features in the Hudson Valley update. Once the new ARM-based system begins shipping, they will receive the “second part” of the update with the new features.

On the other hand, computers already running Windows 11 23H2 will have the complete feature update as a single install when the Hudson Valley releases in September or October.

Windows Hudson Valley update new features coming in 2024

The primary focus of the upcoming Hudson Valley update is expected to be around the integration of more advanced AI capabilities that may also require Neural Processing Units (NPUs). As part of the new innovations, Microsoft reportedly plans to bring AI to the Windows Shell (the graphical user interface for the operating system) and Search. And it plans to introduce new AI-powered features, such as Timeline, Super Resolution, and wallpapers with AI.

Furthermore, the company is also working on new power-saving features and visual changes.

Windows Shell with AI

The development team is working on integrating AI into the Windows Shell. This integration includes a more advanced version of Copilot that can always run in the background to enhance search, help start projects and workflows, understand context, and more.

Timeline with AI

Timeline is coming back to Windows, but it’ll integrate with AI. The new feature is said to allow you to scroll back in time through the apps and websites that Copilot knows you used, which you can then filter based on your criteria.

Chrome Windows 10 Timeline support
Windows 10 Timeline

Search with AI

Through the integration of AI, you will be able to use natural language to find files, settings, and apps on your computer. For instance, if you don’t recall the name of a file, you can simply ask Copilot to “find the file that Robert sent me on WhatsApp several days ago.”

Desktop background with AI

Similar to other operating systems, the team is working on a new take for live wallpapers, but the one for Windows will be different. The new wallpaper feature will use AI to analyze the image and detect its layers to generate a parallax effect that reacts to the mouse cursor or gyroscope on portable devices.

Super Resolution with AI

Windows is also getting a new feature known as “Super Resolution” for upscaling games and videos using AI through the system’s NPU.

Live Captions enhanced

Microsoft is preparing an update for Live Captions that will translate subtitles into multiple languages ​​in real-time, whether from audio in a video or live voice call.

Microsoft launcher for creators

Another experience that Microsoft is planning is a new “Creator” area on File Explorer and Start menu that will house the company’s services to make it easier for you to jumpstart content. This experience will be similar to the Microsoft 365 app.

Energy saver

The operating system will include a new energy-saving feature that will improve battery life by up to 50 percent (on certain hardware). I think the company is referring to the new “Every saver” mode already available in the recent preview builds of Windows 11.

Windows 11 Energy Saver mode
Windows 11 Energy Saver mode

In addition, Microsoft is also developing a new “Green Energy” feature that will allow the system to detect when the device is connected to a power source that uses renewable energy to charge automatically.

Visual designs

The development team is planning significant changes to the desktop experience. As previously rumored, Microsoft continues with the plans to reinvent the Taskbar experience by positioning some elements, such as the System Tray and clock, at the top of the screen.

Top bar
Top bar (Source: Microsoft)

The report doesn’t share more details about the design, but if it follows previous rumors, the new bar at the top could also include the weather information on the left side. In addition, this could be when the operating system finally gets a floating Taskbar to access the Start menu and apps at the bottom of the screen.

Floating Taskbar
Floating Taskbar (Source: Microsoft)

If the company goes with this new design, it could explain why the Taskbar has lost the option to move it to the top of the screen.

One thing to point out is that these visual changes are in the experimental stages, and it’s unlikely that they will arrive with the Hudson Valley update in 2024. Also, since the company had already undergone similar changes when it decided to remove the Start button and change the Start menu with the Start screen on Windows 8, and the changes backfired, the team will take its time to continue testing and proceed with caution before proceeding.

As usual, Microsoft plans to release general improvements across the system, but those details are still unclear.

Hudson Valley update could be branded as Windows 12

Although the rumor has it that Microsoft could be introducing the so-called “Windows 12” in 2024, it’s not clear if the Hudson Valley update will take the form of a brand new version of the operating system that the company will call “Windows 12,” or it’ll continue to carry the “Windows 11” branding name.

It all comes down to the fragmentation of versions. According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft doesn’t want to further divide devices based on product releases because of the problem of adoption from users. At this point in time, the operating system has around 1.4 billion devices, 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 be even lower than Windows 11. However, it’s still too early to tell what decision Microsoft will make. Currently, everything is speculation, but internally, the company is referring to Hudson Valley as a new version of the operating system.

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].