Windows 10 could look and feel a bit different in the year 2021, according to a report from Windows Central. It’s rumored that Microsoft could be planning a much-needed modern overhaul for the operating system’s user interface, including the Start Menu and Taskbar.
Code-named “Sun Valley” this refreshed Windows 10 UI could be coming for the holiday 2021 season in a release code-named “Cobalt.” The project is apparently aimed at “reinvigorating and modernizing the Windows desktop experience to keep up with customer expectations in a world driven by other modern and lightweight platforms,” according to Windows Central.
To be clear, though, it is rumored that Sun Valley won’t be a new Windows 10 design language for Microsoft. It is rather a desktop-based evolution of Fluent Design, Microsoft’s existing project, which aims to introduce experiences and apps that look, feel, and adapt naturally across devices.
But what does that mean for you? The details are currently scarce, but rumors do indicate that the Start Menu and Action Center could look a bit different in this release. It could perhaps be similar to the modern touch-centric dual-screen experience found in Windows 10X, but designed for the desktop instead. Also included is an updated File Explorer, and a Taskbar, too. And, for those who don’t like Windows 10’s tablet mode, a new “fluid experience” will be coming, that is apparently centered around better animations.
Sun Valley is also rumored to introduce some more rounded-off corners throughout Windows 10, possibly including app windows. There are even improvements to the dark mode that should be coming, too. And, if you’re not happy with the changes, there will be an option to switch between the new Sun Valley experiences and the old ones.
This new direction for Windows 10 is the work of the new leader of the Windows Devices and Experiences team, Panos Panay. Since he took charge of the program earlier this year, rumors say Microsoft could be working to bring features from its now-delayed next-generation Windows 10X operating system to regular Windows 10. This looks to be part of that.
Windows Central notes Microsoft could cut the plans for Sun Valley at any time between now and next year, but the changes are something that Microsoft wants to deliver. If all goes well, the update should roll out to everyone in fall 2021 via a routine cumulative update, after a testing period in the beta channel of the Windows Insider program.