Credit Author: JOÃO CARRASQUEIRA
The company is once again trying to modernize Windows by breaking it up into smaller components, so each device only has the features it needs.
Microsoft is once again working on a more "modern" version of Windows yet again, and we could see some changes with Windows 12 in 2024, according to a new report from Windows Central. The company last attempted something like this with Windows 10X, a version of Windows 10 that was going to strip out features like support for classic Win32 apps, but this was eventually canned in favor of Windows 11. However, it looks like Microsoft is taking a different approach this time around.
A version of Windows for every kind of device
According to Zac Bowden of Windows Central, this new initiative is being internally called CorePC, and the goal is to create an operating system that can be designed to better take advantage of different form factors. Different kinds of devices would have different sets of features enabled, which could result in a more lightweight and optimized experience for each form factor. For example, on some devices, Win32 apps may not be supported, but for classic desktop PCs, those will still work as you'd expect, since they're essential to the way those devices are used.
As described in the report, Microsoft is approaching this idea with the opposite thought process compared to Windows 10X. Whereas that effort sought to rebuild Windows from the ground-up and only add what was necessary, the CorePC project starts with the full feature set of Windows and tries to break it up into a modular design that adapts to different kinds of devices.
One of the versions of Windows mentioned in the report is a ChromeOS rival, which only runs Edge (with web apps), Android apps, and Microsoft's Office apps, and it's anywhere between 60% and 75% smaller than Windows 11 SE. As a reminder, Windows 11 SE is already a lightweight version of Windows aimed at education, with lower system requirements and some superfluous features stripped out, so this would be a major improvement over the current state of affairs.
Microsoft is also seemingly working on a "silicon-optimized" version of the OS, which will feature better vertical integration between hardware and software. This is described as being akin to what Apple did with Apple Silicon devices, which has shown great results in terms of performance and efficiency in the Mac devices released in the past two years.
State separation to enable faster updates
One of the foundational changes that are happening as part of this effort is that Windows 12 will feature state separation. This essentially means that different components of the OS will be broken up into different partitions, many of which aren't user accessible. This is something that's fairly common for modern operating systems, such as Android and iOS, and it has a few key benefits.
The most notable one would be faster updates; since most of the system files are in partitions that can't be accessed by the user, it becomes easier for system files to be updated without interrupting usage of the device, making for a faster and more seamless process. It can also improve the reliability of the reset procedure on a device, so you have a more consistent experience when you want to start fresh.
Windows 12 will rely more heavily on AI
One last aspect mentioned in the report is likely the least surprising one: Artificial intelligence (AI) will be pretty important for Windows 12. The writing was on the wall for this, considering how hard Microsoft has been betting on AI with the new Bing chat experience and Microsoft 365 Copilot.
Among the AI features mentioned in the report is the ability for Windows to view the content on your screen and potentially prompt you to take certain actions based on what's being displayed. Windows may also be able to identify elements of a photo and allow you to cut it out of the image to paste somewhere else.
Of course, it's worth keeping in mind that Windows 10X was heavily reported on prior to its cancellation, and Microsoft even formally announced it at the time. The question is whether the company can actually deliver on its vision this time around, and for that, we'll have to wait and see. Microsoft recently made some changes to the Windows Insider program, creating a new Canary channel focused on long-term development of Windows. If there's any place for these changes to show up, it would most likely be there, but it will probably be a while before we get to see them.
Source: Windows Central