We might have just caught our first glimpse of Windows 12, although we can’t be sure about that – but what we do know is that Microsoft is making a big change with test builds of Windows.
XenoPanther on X (formerly Twitter) noticed that the internal Canary versions of Windows 11 – those in the earliest testing channel, in other words – were just forked with a new build 27547 coming into play.
[Corrected] There has been a build jump for internal canary! 26047 > 27547January 30, 2024
The most recent Canary channel build is version 26040 as you may be aware if you follow these preview releases (which comes with a new Voice Clarity feature to improve video chats).
So, now we have builds in the 26XXX range and also the 27XXX range, prompting the obvious question: Is the latter Windows 12 in its first test phase? Let’s discuss that in more depth next.
Analysis: I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!
As Zac Bowden, the well-known Microsoft leaker (of Windows Central fame) points out, the likelihood here is that the next release of Windows is the 26XXX branch, which is currently rumored (by Bowden) to be Windows 11 24H2 coming later this year.
ge_release has been forked! Insiders won’t get the 27XXX builds for quite a while I suspect. Next Windows release should RTM in the 26XXX range. https://t.co/U3y50S5Q81January 30, 2024
That means the 27XXX preview versions could be the next incarnation of Windows after that, the one arriving in 2025 (and these builds probably won’t go into testing with Windows Insiders for some time yet). Hence the (tentative) conclusion that this might be Windows 12, or an all-new Windows, whatever it may be called.
(Although we should further note that technically, Windows 11 24H2 will be all-new. Not the front-end mind, but the underlying foundations – it will be built on a new platform known as Germanium, which will offer considerable performance and security benefits deep under the hood).
At any rate, this pretty much underlines the idea that Windows 12 (or next-gen Windows, whatever the final name) is not coming this year, and will probably arrive next year. After all, Windows 10 gets ditched in 2025, so it makes some sense that a new OS comes in as one shuffles out the exit door (in October 2025 to be precise).
As we’ve discussed before, one of the dangers of bringing in Windows 12 this year is that the move would fragment the desktop user base into three camps, which is clumsy and a headache for organizing updates. So that scenario is neatly avoided if Windows 12 doesn’t turn up until 2025.
As a side note, Microsoft has codenames for its OS development semesters, and the next one should have been arsenic – but due to it being perceived as “scary and violent” Bowden tells us, the software giant has avoided it, and is instead using the codename Dilithium. Which is pretty cool for Star Trek fans (maybe Duranium will be next in line when another unsuitable real-world element pops up).
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