Windows 10’s final days as Windows 12 speculation grows and Microsoft invests in AI

Microsoft launched Windows 11 in October 2021, hoping to attract more users with its revamped design and features. However, two years later, the operating system still lags behind Windows 10 in terms of adoption rate.

Microsoft has tried to improve Windows 11’s usability by releasing frequent updates and new features, but it has also removed 16 Windows 11 features in 2023, such as Cortana, WordPad, and Windows Mixed Reality. More features could be axed soon, as Microsoft shifts its focus to the next version of Windows.

One of the main reasons why Windows 11 has not been widely adopted is its strict minimum system requirements, which exclude many older PCs. Another reason is the changing PC market, which has seen more demand for laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks. Microsoft claims that Windows 11 is running on 400 million devices, and expects to reach half a billion by early 2024.

However, according to a StatCounter survey conducted earlier this year, Windows 10 still dominates the market share with 71.9%, while Windows 11 trails behind with 22.95%.

Microsoft plans to end support for Windows 10 in October 2025, which means that users should ideally start migrating to Windows 11 soon. However, many users are reluctant to do so, as they are satisfied with Windows 10’s performance and compatibility. Until then, users can continue to use Windows 10 on their PCs, as it will still receive security and feature updates, though Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 11.

Microsoft bets on AI for Windows 12, coming in 2024

Microsoft is already working on the next version of Windows, which is expected to be released in 2024. The new operating system, codenamed “Next Valley”, will reportedly have AI features built-in, such as a new timeline feature, an enhanced search function, and a new upscaling technology for videos and games. Microsoft has also shown a prototype of a new Windows desktop interface, which features a floating taskbar, a floating search box, and system icons on the top-right corner.

Microsoft’s interest and investment in AI is evident from its recent products and services, such as Copilot, an AI-powered assistant for developers, which is available for Windows 10 users. Microsoft also acquired Nuance, a speech recognition company, for $19.7 billion in 2021, and launched Azure Percept, a platform for edge AI devices, in 2022.

Microsoft faces backlash for ending Windows 10 support in 2025

Microsoft’s decision to end support for Windows 10 in 2025 has sparked criticism from some users and groups, who argue that it will harm the environment and waste millions of PCs. According to a survey by Canalys, about 240 million Windows PCs could become obsolete after Microsoft stops providing security updates for Windows 10, as reported by Neowin. This could damage Microsoft’s reputation and sustainability goals, as it would result in a huge amount of electronic waste.

A Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has filed a petition asking Microsoft to reconsider its decision and extend support for Windows 10 beyond 2025. The group claims that ending support for Windows 10 would cause “the single biggest jump in junked computers ever”. The group also points out that about 40% of users are still using Windows 10 on their PCs, and have not upgraded to Windows 11 because of its minimum requirements.

In response, Microsoft has announced an “extended security update” (ESU) program for Windows 10, which will allow users to pay for monthly security updates after October 14, 2025. The ESU program will offer three more years of support for Windows 10, and will be available for both commercial and consumer customers. This could be a way for Microsoft to appease some users and encourage them to upgrade to Windows 11 or Windows 12 eventually.

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