Monday, July 22, 2024

Windows 11: Everything we know about the big update


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 swapping user interface overhaul of Windows in a new version of the operating system that could be known as Windows 11.

Here’s everything we know about Windows 11 so far, and what we hope gets announced.

Windows 11 price and release date

This is best to be treated as a rumor for now, but if Windows 11 ends up being announced at the June 24 event, it could likely come out later this fall or early next year. Based on how previous Windows releases went, Microsoft would first need to beta test the operating system with Windows Insiders before releasing it to laptop makers 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.”

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 could end up being an entirely new OS separate from Windows 10, and Windows 10 could be left in the dust. Especially after Microsoft commented back in 2015 that Windows 10 was “the last version of Windows”

Windows 11 features we know about

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 as “Sun Valley.” Some people have the misconception that this could just be a standard featured update for regular Windows 10 in the second half of this year, just like the May 2021 Update was to start 2021.

Others point to “Sun Valley” eventually becoming Windows 11. This is what we presume will end up happening. We believe that Sun Valley always referred to the visual redesign for Windows, rather than the name for an operating system update itself.

A lot of these rumors are also being 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 they specifically mentioned “Windows” and not “Windows 10,” again adding to the speculation of a Windows 11.

If you didn’t know, 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. So you can now expect some of those features in Windows 11.



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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.

We’ve already seen a lot of mockups of how some elements of the Sun Valley redesign and Windows 11 could look. There also was some active code in Windows Insider versions of Windows 10, hinting at these visual redesigns being present in the OS, but not yet activated.

A floating Start Menu is one element that could end up in Windows 11. Floating jump lists in the Taskbar are another. Rounded corners and menus are also another, as is an Action Center with a redesigned look featuring “sliders.” You can see some of those in the gallery above.

Other than the visual redesign, there’s a bunch of other things that could be coming in Windows 11. 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.

Windows 11 features we want to see

For all that we know would end up in Windows 11, there’s still a lot we hope for. We really do hope Microsoft could end up changing a few things in Windows 11 that haven’t been mentioned yet in any current rumors.

Of those things is the Windows 10 tablet mode. Windows 10X made improvements in terms of touch controls, and we hope that might end up being ported into regular Windows 10. We hope to see a more touch-friendly Start Menu, Action Center, larger icons in the Taskbar, and more. Not to forget the touch keyboard itself.

Another thing is more consistency. The Windows 10 dark mode is really behind other operating systems, with some settings menus, and even the file explorer still showing light elements when dark mode is turned on. Not to forget, the fact that Windows 10 still has classic icons left over from Windows 98, scattered throughout the operating system.

We’ll have to wait until June 24 to find out what happens, but as of right now, the bar is set very high. A redesigned Windows is on the way, and it could not be any better.

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