Windows 11
A reference to Windows 24H2 has popped up online, hinting at an imminent arrival of Windows 12. Pixabay

The rumour mill has been churning out a lot of speculations surrounding a new version of Microsoft's flagship operating system. The word on the street is that the impending update could turn out to be a completely new operating system called Windows 12.

Alternatively, there is a possibility the Redmond-based tech giant could introduce this update in the form of an upgrade (24H2) to the existing Windows 11 OS.

It is worth noting that the marketing team will decide on the name of the above-mentioned update, which has a platform version 24H2.

For instance, Windows 11 21H2 was initially called Windows 10 Sun Valley. Past leaks and job listings indicated that Microsoft is planning to introduce "Sun Valley" as an update to Windows 10. Contrary to these speculations, Microsoft launched Windows 10 Sun Valley as Windows 11.

It will be interesting to see whether the next version of Windows will arrive as Windows 11 24H2 or Windows 12. In the meantime, some reliable sources and Microsoft's partners have confirmed that the American tech behemoth is on the verge of rolling out a significant Windows refresh next year.

In line with this, Intel's CFO David Zinser also hinted at a major Windows refresh, which is slated to launch in 2024. However, before announcing Windows 24H2 or Windows 12, Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to release a moment update called "Windows 11 Moment 5".

If rumours making the rounds online are anything to go by, Windows 11 Moment 5 will start rolling out towards the end of February 2024. Notably, this will be the first update to separate Microsoft Edge and Bing from Windows in Europe.

References to Windows 11 24H2 spotted

Ahead of that, hawk-eyed Microsoft watcher PhantomOcean has found references to a February Moment 4 update. Apparently, Microsoft has started teasing a new Windows release in the preview builds.

Microsoft watcher Xeno recently spotted Windows 11 24H2 in the PolicyDefinitionsen-USWindows.adml, confirming the platform version of the next-generation Windows OS.

In an X (formerly Twitter) post, the leaker shared a screenshot showing a new DMSA (Delegated Manage Service Account logins) group policy that confirms the existence of Windows 11 Version 24H2. This version plays a vital role in managing the Delegated Managed Service Account policy linked to Azure Directories.

However, it is still unclear whether this reference is a mere placeholder or an actual confirmation that the next version of Windows will be called Windows 11 24H2. The reference only implies that the next platform release is 24H2 and this was already known.

Windows 24H2 / Windows 12 release date

While Microsoft is still mum on its plan to launch the much-awaited Windows 11 successor, the purported Windows 12 OS has been subject to a lot of speculations and leaks lately.

To recap, Windows 12 was spotted in Build 2023 earlier this year. Moreover, Microsoft partners have already indicated that the next Windows OS could arrive as early as May or June alongside the new Snapdragon X hardware, which has also been floating around the rumour mill for quite some time now.

While nothing is set in stone yet, a report by Windows Latest suggests the next version of Windows (Windows 11 24H2 update or Windows 12) could enter the Release to Manufacturer (RTM) stage around April. It is also worth noting that several PC makers believe a major Windows announcement is right around the corner.

The feature-laden next-gen version of Windows isn't expected to enter the production stage until the fall of 2024 (September – October). If Microsoft doesn't deviate from its Windows 11 trend, a Moment 1 update for Windows 24H2 could be in the offing.

So, it is safe to assume that Windows 24H2 or Windows 12 could initially arrive without some of its advertised features. The Moment 1 update for Windows 24H2 could add the other features later next year. However, you can join the Windows Insider Program to test new features after the announcement.