Rumor mill: The increasing number of rumors and subtle hints about Windows 12 is starting to turn into proof that the OS is in production. In fact, the next generation of Windows could arrive within the next few months. Qualcomm seems to be leveraging that possibility to market its Snapdragon X Elite-based systems.

During an October event, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon X Elite SoC, stating that its new computing platform would be the most "intelligent," powerful, and efficient processor built for Windows. In December, Qualcomm said that its Arm chip is faster than Apple's M3 and provides AI acceleration capabilities that supercharge productivity, creativity, and AI-based workflows.

Windows Latest points out that Qualcomm's presentation included what could be the most apparent hint to an upcoming refresh of the Windows ecosystem discovered so far. The fabless chip manufacturer mentioned an unspecified "Windows OS" installed on a Qualcomm laptop reference design used to test the CPU performance of the Snapdragon X Elite SoC.

The company benchmarked the new Arm chip and the generic Windows OS against two Samsung x86 laptops based on the 12-core i7-1360P and the 10-core i7-1355U Intel CPUs running Windows 11. The specific distinction between "Windows OS" and "Windows 11" points to the possibility that Qualcomm was using a pre-release version of Windows 12.

Rumors have indicated that Windows 12, featuring AI-focused capabilities, including an improved Copilot, might arrive by mid-2024. If true, Qualcomm having a working version to test in October is not that far-fetched.

Its interface design would be similar to Windows 11, with a few unique changes--a "floating" taskbar, for example. Desktop widgets might also return because Microsoft needs to remind PC users how great the Windows Vista experience was in the 2000s.

A heavily AI-focused operating system would greatly benefit from dedicated AI accelerator logic units. Intel optimized its latest x86 chips for AI-related applications and workloads, while Arm chips could offer an improved user experience thanks to their traditional power efficiency. If Microsoft bets big on AI in Windows 12, a pairing with an AI-first SoC like Snapdragon X Elite could showcase how AI acceleration can scale to improve the overall PC experience.