A new team at Microsoft has begun to formulate a roadmap for the release of a new version of Windows, codenamed Hudson Valley, according to Windows Central.

Microsoft is planning to release a new major version of the Windows platform in 2024, codenamed Germanium, on which Hudson Valley will be based. The new Windows leadership is now returning to an annual release cycle for major versions of the Windows platform, meaning that Microsoft’s operating system will return to one major feature update per year instead of several smaller ones throughout the year. Microsoft will probably still make moderate use of Momentum updates, but they will no longer be the primary means of delivering new features in the future.

According to the publication’s sources, these changes will take effect after the launch of Hudson Valley in 2024, so we can still count on at least one more Moment update for the current version of Windows 11, which, according to insiders, will be released in February or March early next year.

The roadmap for Hudson Valley is also quite interesting. The update is expected to appear in a release of the Germanium platform, which is set to reach RTM status in April. However, the Hudson Valley update itself won’t be completed until August, and won’t start shipping as an update for existing PCs until September or October.

As with Cobalt and Sun Valley, which were released in 2021, Microsoft will continue to work on Hudson Valley in the summer, as many features are developed independently of the platform. At the same time, sources indicate that OEMs will start shipping new Arm hardware with the Germanium platform preloaded as early as June 2024.

The reason for this is allegedly Qualcomm and its new Snapdragon X Elite chips, which depend on improving the platform that comes with Germanium. This means that OEMs can’t ship new X Elite hardware with the current version of Windows 11, and they don’t want to wait until Hudson Valley is ready in the fall.

Computers that will ship in the summer with Germanium preloaded will receive the Hudson Valley release as a Last Cumulative Update (LCU) on top of the Germanium RTM build, while all other users of the current version of Windows 11 will receive Hudson Valley as a major update to the operating system.

According to the publication, the focus at Hudson Valley will be on next-generation AI capabilities that are woven and integrated into the OS, much of which will likely require new NPU hardware to operate.

According to sources, Microsoft’s new blockbuster will be the introduction of an AI-powered Windows Shell, complemented by an “enhanced Copilot” that will be able to run in the background to improve search, accelerate project or workflow launches, understand context, and more. Insiders claim that these AI features will be “revolutionary.”

The company is working on a new history/timeline feature that will allow users to scroll back in time through all the programs and websites that Copilot has memorized, which can be filtered based on the user’s specific search criteria. For example, a user could type in “FY24 earnings” and every instance where that term has appeared on the Windows interface will reappear on the screen to be viewed and opened.

AI will also improve Windows search by enabling it to use natural language to find things that a user has already opened or seen on their computer. If the title or content of a document is forgotten, Windows will be able to enter the search query “find the document Bob sent me on WhatsApp a few days ago” and get the desired result.

Other AI features include something called Super Resolution, which utilizes NPU hardware to improve the quality of videos and games. An improved version of Live Captions is also being developed that will be able to translate several different languages in real time, whether it’s audio to video or during a call in real time.

Microsoft is even working on an AI wallpaper that will use machine learning to recognize layers in any image and create a slight parallax effect that interacts with the cursor or built-in gyroscope on portable devices.

In addition to artificial intelligence, Microsoft wants to add a special section for “creators” to the Start menu and Explorer, which will contain all Microsoft services that allow users to create content. Essentially, this will be a launchpad for Microsoft 365, where you can quickly jump to a new or existing project in Designer, a Word document, a PowerPoint presentation, etc.

Microsoft is also working on several key power-saving improvements that sources say could extend battery life by up to 50% on certain hardware. A new “green power” feature is also being developed that will attempt to charge the device when Windows determines that the energy it is receiving from the grid is renewable.

Finally, Microsoft is toying with a new desktop interface for Hudson Valley that places taskbar elements, such as the notification bar, at the top of the screen. Sources claim that these ideas are in the experimental phase, and are probably unlikely to be launched in 2024. The new Windows bosses allegedly don’t want to “rock the boat” too much with their first release.

One big question that remains a mystery is what final form Hudson Valley will take. Will it be a new version of Windows 11 based on the release of the Germanium platform? Or will Microsoft go all-in and announce it as Windows 12?

Sources claim that Microsoft is tired of further fragmenting the Windows user base with each new product release. Windows currently has about 1.4 billion users, 400 million of whom are running Windows 11. This means that there are still 1 billion Windows 10 users, a significant portion of whom cannot upgrade to Windows 11 (or later versions) due to system requirements.

That being said, releasing the next release as Windows 12 would hurt Microsoft’s goal of reducing fragmentation and getting everyone back on the same version of Windows. But this decision ultimately comes down to marketing, and the branding issue has not yet been resolved.

Whatever the branding, from a technical point of view, Hudson Valley is considered a new version of Windows within the company.