On June 24, Microsoft will hold a presentation that will present “the next generation of Windows.” The company began sending out a corresponding invitation to journalists in early summer – a week after the company’s head, Satya Nadella, first announced this. Then he announced that the new version of the operating system would be the most significant Windows update in the last 10 years.
I have put together all the leaks about the upcoming Windows update, official hints, and data from reputable insiders to see ahead of time what the new operating system will be like.
It is Windows 11, not the new Windows 10
When Microsoft introduced Windows 10 in 2015, it moved to a new platform strategy (Windows as a Service). Windows 10 would be the last numbered version of the operating system. Over time, this tactic pleased users rather than disappointed – its advantage became especially noticeable in January 2018, when Windows 10 became the most popular computer operating system, overtaking Windows 7.
However, times are changing, and nothing prevents Microsoft from changing its plans. This is not just a guess: inviting to attend the upcoming presentation (June 24), the official Windows Twitter account posted a teaser animation of the event. It illustrates the Microsoft logo as a window with cross-flaps (a reference to Windows), through which light seeps in in the form of the number 11 (although the horizontal flap should have separated the pattern).
This could have been a teasing joke, but later authoritative insider @evleaks confirmed that the upcoming operating system from Microsoft would be called Windows 11. The presentation will also occur at 11 am ET – a very unusual time for the conference to start.
Windows 11 will receive a completely new design.
Microsoft clearly needs a good reason to change its past claims and still ditch Windows 10 by introducing a new operating system number. And a completely new design is great for that. The Redmond giant has been preparing a redesign for an update for a long time, codenamed Sun Valley – apparently, it was Windows 11 hiding under this naming.
The Sun Valley project has flashed on the network for a long time – Microsoft regularly disclosed details of the new interface style, insiders shared previously unknown information, and designers popular in their circles drew realistic concepts based on all this data.
Start and system elements will float above the bottom bar.
The start is the calling card and face of every recent version of Windows. Unsurprisingly, in Windows 11, developers will transform it again, but not so much in functionality as in visual terms – the Start window will hover above the bottom bar. We have to admit that this small change makes the appearance of the system much fresher. Judging by information from the network, Microsoft will not radically change the “insides” of this menu – the innovations will affect only the design of the window itself.
The control panel will also float, and its design will be the same as that of the “Start.” The action center will be combined with the control buttons together – a similar one has long been used in some other operating systems. Almost all mentions of this new menu indicate that it will be an island – the control buttons will be located on one separate panel, notifications will be on another, and specific elements (like a player) on another separate one.
Right angles will disappear. Fillets will replace them.
In truth, insiders and concept designers disagree on this point – some are confident that Microsoft will not change its traditions and keep right angles. In contrast, others are convinced that in 2021 Microsoft will follow the fashion for fillets. The latter fits better with the definition of “completely new Windows” – just hovering menus are not enough for a new design to be considered truly new.
Fillets are expected to affect virtually everything in the system, from context menus and system panels to all application windows. True, even on this issue, the opinions of concept designers differ – some draw fillets in all possible interface elements, others combine them with right angles.
One thing is clear for sure – everywhere, there will be a translucent background with blur.
There is disagreement on the web about the island-style of displaying windows, the design of the corners, and the effect of levitation of the menu. Still, almost everyone agrees on the transparency of the windows. The vast majority of leaks and design renders show transparency and blur in all windows, be it at least the Start menu or the Explorer. Moreover, these effects are even in the canceled Windows 10X operating system assembly, which Microsoft was developing for devices with two screens and weak gadgets in parallel with the Sun Valley project.
The so-called acrylic transparency implies the use of new effects when hovering over elements and increased spacing between elements – those areas of the interface with which the user interacts will certainly become larger, and page titles will be thickened.
The new font that has already been shown
Windows 11 will probably use the default adaptable Segoe UI Variable font, which has already appeared in Windows 10 Build 21376 for Insiders. Its advantage is that it is equally well suited for small texts and large inscriptions. This distinguishes it from standard fonts, which are initially created for either small size or large size. For example, the stable version of Windows 10 currently uses the Segoe UI font, designed for 9pt. In smaller inscriptions, it becomes poorly legible, and in large inscriptions, it looks expressionless.
Windows 11 will have new icons, and Windows 95 icons will disappear. Yes, they are still in use.
Microsoft will finally transform the icons that are used throughout the system. It’s not just about shortcuts to folders, trash cans, and other icons found in Explorer.
We are talking about all the icons available in the Shell32 directory. There are still icons there from the days of Windows 95, and only recently Microsoft updated their design in one of the insider assemblies – of course, they will migrate to Windows 11.
There will be functional innovations in Windows 11 – there are many of them, but they are all small.
Much less is known about the features of the upcoming update than about its design. But since Windows 11 and Windows 10X (the canceled OS for weak and foldable devices, the image of which has leaked to the network) were developed in parallel, we can safely assume that all the functions from the latter will appear in Windows 11.
For example, Windows 11 will show when the computer’s camera is in use – a corresponding indicator will be displayed in the system tray. A similar option has already appeared in iOS 14 and Android 12.
Another minor but useful option is Anti-Theft Protection. It will protect personal data on a Windows 11 device (and this is not only PCs but also laptops with tablets) if it is stolen. The owner will only need to remotely activate Lost Mode (most likely through the Microsoft website), and the stolen gadget will display a request to enter a PIN or password from the account.
The innovation that users will definitely love the most is hidden under the hood – Windows updates will be installed in the background without a forced restart of the computer to complete the installation. This has already been implemented in Chrome OS and modern versions of Android – this option is really convenient, especially compared to installing updates in Windows, which requires a computer restart and takes 5–20 minutes. With the new update engine, it takes less than 90 seconds to install updates.
Another important “under-hood” change concerns security – all applications will be installed in their own virtual partitions and will have a “read-only” access level by default. This will protect both the games with the programs themselves and the operating system files, drivers, and the registry. In practice, such an implementation ensures that viruses that hit the computer will not affect system components and installed programs since malware (like any other application) will be allocated isolated virtual space. In Windows 10X, all apps run in a “container” by default, and they need special permission to access items outside of that “container.”
When will Windows 11 come out
We can safely say that Microsoft will not change its long-term practice and will first test Windows 11 on volunteer insiders, and only after that will it release a stable version for all users. The reputable publication Bloomberg believes that the large-scale launch of Windows 11 is likely to take place in the fall of 2021. Before that, the system will be distributed in the “slow” insider channel, but the first to receive it will be the participants in the “fast” cycle of the Windows Insider Program.