The next major version of Windows will likely be focused on new AI-powered features thanks to x86 chip advancements.
Both Intel and Microsoft seem to be preparing for the as yet unannounced Windows 12. The hardware leaker @leaf_hobby, known for revealing the full specs of Intel’s Xeon chips before launch, has published details about Intel’s Meteor Lake desktop platform. Intel reportedly mentions internally that its next-gen CPUs will support Windows 12.
While the tweet has since been deleted, VideoCardz notes that Meteor Lake is expected to include 20 PCIe Gen5 lanes and support for Windows 12. We asked Intel to comment on the leak, but the company refused. Microsoft also declined to comment on the reports of Intel preparing to support Windows 12.
While Microsoft hasn’t announced any plans for Windows 12, there are already signs the company is looking to future versions of Windows to integrate AI-powered features. “As we start to develop future versions of Windows we’ll think about other places where AI should play a natural role in terms of the experience,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s head of consumer marketing, in an interview with The Verge earlier this week.
Mehdi was discussing the latest Windows 11 update that integrates the new AI-powered version of Bing into the taskbar. This update also includes AI-powered recommended content within the Start menu for business users. Microsoft is also reportedly working on AI-powered smart snapping features for Windows 11.
Mehdi’s comment follows Windows chief Panos Panay’s claim at CES earlier this year that “AI is going to reinvent how you do everything on Windows.” Microsoft’s Surface team has also been hinting at how AI could change how we use PCs. AI “will have a potentially profound impact on how you use your computer and how it will essentially evolve in regards to its form,” said Steven Bathiche, head of Microsoft’s applied sciences group, in an interview with The Verge last year.
If Microsoft is indeed planning for its next version of Windows to utilize AI more widely, it would need to work closely with hardware partners like Intel and AMD to optimize chips that can handle AI workloads. That might explain why Intel is reportedly mentioning Windows 12 internally already.
AMD recently launched its Ryzen 7000 mobile processors, boasting that they’re the first x86 chips to contain a dedicated AI engine that can support Microsoft’s Windows Studio Effects. These features, including background noise removal and eye contact, are usually only available for Arm-powered hardware that can power the features with a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU). So it’s clear AMD and Microsoft are laying the groundwork for more AI-powered features in traditional Windows laptops.
Intel won’t be far behind on the AI front, though. Meteor Lake, which is expected later this year or in early 2024, is an important step for Intel, as it will be built on the company’s Intel 4 (7nm) node and be its first “chiplet” design, with separate dies for the CPU cores, integrated graphics, and input / output. It will also include similar AI capabilities to those AMD introduced on its Ryzen 7000 mobile CPUs.
Both AMD and Intel are fighting to catch up to Apple and its latest M2 chips, which have a dedicated AI chip that can handle 15.8 trillion operations per second — 40 percent more than the M1. Apple uses its Core ML platform to run machine learning models on MacBooks to accelerate voice recognition tasks, image processing, and more. All of this is power-efficient, as it uses the dedicated NPU instead of hitting the CPU and GPU.
Microsoft also reportedly shifted back to a three-year release cycle for Windows last year, meaning the next major version of Windows could be due in 2024 — good timing for some new CPUs. Microsoft originally moved away from its three-year cycle with the release of Windows 10 in 2015, prioritizing the idea of Windows as a service. Windows 11 then marked the end of the idea that Windows 10 could be “the last version of Windows.”
Microsoft has also started focusing on updating Windows 11 a lot faster than the big annual updates it originally promised at the launch of the operating system in 2021. The software maker delivered the latest big Windows 11 update earlier this week, with the AI-powered Bing added to the taskbar, improvements to widgets, a better touch mode, a screen recording feature, and lots more.