Windows 12: everything you need to know about Microsoft’s future “Cloud-only” OS

What if Windows 12 was entirely cloud-based? That’s what Microsoft’s direction suggests, including the hybrid position of Windows 11 and the development of the Windows 365 PC-as-a-service offering…

In early April 2022, Microsoft unveiled several improvements for Windows 11: the latest version of its PC operating system. Launching in October 2021, this version of the OS is designed to meet the needs of the era of hybrid work. Among the new features announced by Microsoft are an overhaul of File Explorer, an improved video conferencing system and several security improvements.

These announcements also implicitly foreshadow the future of the OS, including Windows 12 on which Microsoft would already be working. Indeed, the roadmap of Windows 11 is now focused on increased mobility and Windows 365. We can deduce that the future of Windows will be on the Cloud, especially for businesses.

Even now, Microsoft is focusing on hybrid environments. Earlier this week, the CEO Satya Nadella declared that ” the boundaries between the PC and the Cloud are blurring.

For the time being, the priority of Microsoft is to smooth the transition between local Windows and Windows 365. The goal is that users will no longer be able to determine whether their applications, compute resources or storage capacity are coming from the cloud or their machine.

The next step would be a fully cloud-based operating systemlike Google’s Chrome OS. In the short term, Microsoft has already announced that Windows 365 users will be able to boot their machines directly on the Cloud, without going through the local OS.

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Windows 12: a fully cloud-based OS?

So, Windows 12 could be the first version of the OS entirely based on the Cloud. It would be hosted on Data Centers rather than PCs, and sold with storage capacity as a subscription.

This system would therefore be similar to traditional virtual PCsthat companies have been deploying for several years to support their “BYOD” (bring your own device) strategies. However, the pricing system should be simplified as well as the different configurations. In addition, this cloud-based OS would not only address enterprises, but also the general public.

In the enterprise, a cloud-based system would give IT administrators Better control over identity management and security configuration. It would also provide insight into how devices are used. Beyond that, in general, a Cloud OS would enable new consumption models.

Windows 365 is sold as a service offering professionals unprecedented flexibilityWith the ability to work from anywhere, on any device, and choose from a wide variety of resources. There are currently more than 12 different Cloud PC configurations, each with a different amount of resources. Users can easily switch between these offerings at any time.

With a cloud-based OS, Microsoft could pose the foundations of a true “PC as a service cloud and democratize the model proposed by companies like the startup Shadow or like Nvidia with GeForce Now. Any PC could then be transformed into a gleaming machine without any power limit.

With such a model, consumers could opt for an offer combining hardware and a cloud storage subscription. Currently, many smartphones are already sold in this way.

In addition, a Cloud model would change the hardware paradigm. Drawing resources directly from the Cloud would reduce the need for SoCs on local machines, enabling new designs and formats. The priority for manufacturers would become the speed of the connection to the Cloud and the reduction of latency.

Microsoft favors a hybrid model for now

In an interview with the website TechRadar, Wangui McKelvey, general manager of Windows 365, detailed Microsoft’s vision for Windows and the cloud. According to him, an OS that is completely detached from the device is not not the firm’s vision for the near future.

According to him, the current ambition is not necessarily the development of an entirely cloud-based OS, but rather to combine the two experiences so that as many use cases as possible are supported to meet the needs of all users.

In addition, a cloud-based OS would involve many challenges. For example, Internet connectivity is very uneven around the world, which means that access to performance would be conditioned on geographic location. While future technologies such as Starlink’s satellite connection could solve this problem, it would be a major concern in the short term.

Another problem is the risk of an internet service provider failure or a cloud provider. In the event of a technical problem, the computers would become completely useless. This is a boon for cybercriminals, who could easily jeopardize companies that have become dependent on connectivity. However, Microsoft announces a future feature that will allow Windows 365 users to access the cloud PC without an internet connection.

Finally, latency represents an additional barrier. A cloud-based model would not be viable for use cases that prohibit latency at all, such as online competitive video gaming.

The PC manufacturers may also oppose PCs as a Cloud service”. Their sales may collapse, as consumers would no longer see the point of investing massive amounts of money in powerful machines.

None of these problems is insurmountable, and it remains likely that Microsoft will eventually release an OS entirely based on the Cloud. PCs as a service should first be democratized in companies to meet the needs of telecommuting, before being democratized among the general public who also want to enjoy increased flexibility …

What devices will be compatible with Windows 12?

When Microsoft released Windows 11, the main feature required for computers was a hardware feature called TPM a security feature found on most modern motherboards. It is likely that Windows 11 will have the same requirement, but TPM will probably be standard on all PCs by the time this version is released.

Apart from this special feature, we should find the same prerequisites as on Windows 11. The PCs will have to be equipped with a 64-bit processor, a speed of 1GHz, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of disk space, the UEFI Secure Boot feature, a 9-inch HD screen, DirectX 12 and an Internet connection.

Windows 12 release date

It is not known at the moment when Windows 12 will be launched. Remember that Windows 11 was released less than a year agoand that this iteration will receive many updates before a new version is deployed.

Nevertheless, based on the time between previous releases, we can anticipate a launch of Windows 12 at the end of 2025. It is in fact at this date that Windows 10 will no longer be supported.

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