For the first time since Microsoft unveiled Windows 10, there’s a reason to be very excited. On June 24, Microsoft is set to talk about “what’s next for Windows,” and it is expected to be a huge virtual affair.
Why is this a big deal? Rumor has it that Microsoft could announce the long-rumored “Sun Valley” visual update for Windows. This is expected to deliver a sweeping user interface overhaul of Windows in a new version of the operating system that could be known as Windows 11.
We recently went hands-on with a leaked version of a build of Windows 11, which confirms not only the name but also some of the newest features.
Price and release date
It’s pretty much confirmed that Windows 11 will be announced at the June 24 event, but that doesn’t mean we have a firm release date for the update.
Right now, a release later this fall or early next year seems likely based on how previous Windows releases have been scheduled. Microsoft would first need to beta test the operating system with Windows Insiders before releasing it to manufacturers and the general public.
It has already prepared for this by pausing Windows Insider builds for the next few weeks while it “tests the servicing pipeline.” A leaked version of Windows 11 also surfaced, providing a first look at a near-final version of the operating system, as seen in the other images in this post.
As far as pricing goes, we can’t say much in this area. But what we can judge based on the price of Windows 10, since the pricing of that OS didn’t change much over Windows 8 or Windows 7. If Microsoft were to continue with its theme of “Pro” and “Home” consumer versions of Windows, then expect Windows 11 Home to come in at around $119 and Windows 11 Pro at $200. That’s the price of new fresh copies, obviously.
Again, we’ll have to wait and see what Microsoft decides to do. There is even the chance that Windows 11 could be a normal optional free “upgrade” to Windows 10, in the same way that Windows 8.1 was for Windows 8 or Windows 10 was for Windows 7.
Or, Microsoft could just continue along with its current “Windows as a Service” phase. With that, Microsoft could keep updating current Windows 10, giving Windows 11 elements as a featured experience pack in Windows 10 to everyone who wants it. And that would all happen while giving other users an option to stay on the current versions of Windows 10 known as 21H1.
But this is all just speculation. Windows 11 seems like it could end up being an entirely new OS separate from Windows 10, and Windows 10 could be left as an option for those who still want to use it until Microsoft retires it in 2025. There’s still no word on which devices would run Windows 11, though. From our hands-on time, we believe any device that could run Windows 10 will also be able to run Windows 11.
A visual redesign for Taskbar and Start Menu
There are a lot of rumors about the features that could be coming in Windows 11. All of them point to a redesign for Windows that is code-named Sun Valley. That said, we believe elements of this Sun Valley visual update will eventually come to Windows 11. We say this because a new round of Windows 11 leaks just exposed the work that Microsoft has been doing on the new OS.
We installed the leaked Windows 11 build and have included a few screenshots of what could be new in Windows 11 for you throughout this section. A floating and centered Start Menu and centered Taskbar are the two most noticeable new elements. They give Windows a drastic new feel, both ditching Live Tiles and adopting a more touch-friendly design. Instead of Live Tiles, you have standard icons that link to your apps and that you can “pin” for your convenience.
Under your icons, you’ll find a list of recommended documents and files, powered by OneDrive or the files you navigate to most on your device. This is one of the biggest changes to the Start Menu since Windows 10 was
Other than the Start Menu, floating jump lists in the Taskbar are another new element, though we have yet to see it in the leaked build. Rounded corners and menus throughout Windows 11 are also new, as is an Action Center with a redesigned look focusing more on cleaner sliders and rounded buttons. Microsoft even tweaked the windowing system in Windows 11, at least in this leaked build. Hovering over the maximize icon will show you new ways to split your apps for multitasking.
New animations, sounds, and widgets
Animations throughout Windows 11 have also been updated to look more smooth and feel more natural. This is best seen when you click on the Start Menu itself or minimize and close windows. The animations look and feel fluid, not unlike what you see on mobile operating systems.
Windows 11 will also ship with a new collection of sounds, which also help to transform the vibe of Windows to feel fresh.
Like old-school Windows Vista, Windows 11 brings back a new “widgets” section. The widgets function a bit like the News and Interests feature in Windows 10. Click the widgets icon in the taskbar, and then you’ll see things like the weather, top news stories, stocks, sports scores, and more. We’re assuming widgets might see an expansion once Windows 11 is final.
Other features include more touch-friendly windows, a new split-screen feature for better multitasking, and new gestures for tablets.
The Windows 10X legacy
Even before the leaks, a lot of rumors were fueled by a blog post where Microsoft announced the Windows 10 May 2021 Update. In that post, Microsoft mentioned that it would port some features of its now-canceled Windows 10X operating system over to “other parts of Windows.” Note that it specifically mentioned “Windows” and not “Windows 10,” again adding to the speculation of a Windows 11.
Windows 10X had promised to deliver a redesigned Taskbar, Start Menu, Action Center, and tons of new visuals to a new flavor of Windows for budget and dual-screen devices. Due to the pandemic, Microsoft shifted those plans. Now, most of those features have apparently been ported over to Windows 11. The features can be demoed in a leaked build that can be installed on any modern PC if you have the ISO file.
Microsoft already officially hinted at some of these new features. That includes a new app container technology that has already been integrating into Microsoft Defender Application Guard. Also included is an enhanced Voice Typing experience, and a modernized touch keyboard with optimized key sizing, sounds, colors, and animations. Microsoft even worked to improve fonts in Windows, too.
Windows 11 features we want to see
There are visual elements of the leaked Windows 11 build that haven’t been addressed. We hope Microsoft is able to get these in shape before June 24 to bring a more unified approach to the whole interface.
Other than the visual redesign, there’s a bunch of other things that could be coming in Windows 11 which we have yet to see in any leaks. The first of those is a redesigned Microsoft Store, which puts more money into developers’ hands and allows classic Win32 apps like Google Chrome. New icons are another thing, as is a redesigned settings app, which recently leaked online at a French publication.
Most of our impressions on Windows 11 so far come from a leaked build. Things can still change, so we’ll have to wait until June 24 to find out what officially happens. But as of right now, the bar has been set very high. A redesigned Windows is on the way, and we can’t wait to see the finished product.