With Build 2021 now finished and only a smattering of hints towards the next release of Windows, users are curious as to whether we may see 'Sun Valley' appear sooner, with a fully-fledged Windows 11 arriving towards the end of this year.
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It looks like we'll find out very soon, with Microsoft holding a Windows event later this month. The picture itself is telling, with the shade of the Windows logo almost forming an 11, alongside the event starting at 11am.
As we begin to build a picture of what to expect, here is everything we know so far about a possible Windows 11, the successor to Windows 10.
Cut to the chase
What is it? Windows 11 could be the successor to Windows 10
When is it out? Windows 11 is rumored to launch towards the end of this year
How much does it cost? As it's from 10 to 11, it may be a small fee this time
Windows 11 release date
Right now there is no confirmed release date for Windows 11.
Back in 2015 with the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft was adamant that there would be no Windows 11, but technology changes over the years, and there's only so long you can stick with the number 10. Apple technically did it for ten years until macOS 11 Big Sur arrived, and that brand doesn't have the same size of customer base clamoring for a new number.
Windows Central reports that the internal timeline for the Windows 10 21H2 release points to October, with testing through the Windows Insider channels before then.
This could still be the case, to roll out a major update for Windows 10 for users who don't want to upgrade to Windows 11 just yet if it does get announced.
Microsoft has announced an event on June 24 to talk about 'the next generation of Windows' at 11 a.m. Eastern Time, so we're going to know for certain very soon.
On June 9, the company released the below video, full of startup sounds slowed down to 4,000%. It's telling that the length of the video is exactly 11 minutes.
The Windows 11 name
Microsoft has a reputation for unexpected names for its products. Whether that's Xbox Series X, or Windows Live, or OneDrive, you can be sure that most of the time, it's a name you won't expect.
During the opening keynote to Build 2021, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke about using a new version of Windows. "I’ve been self hosting it over the past several months, and I’m incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows," Nadella told attendees.
This could still mean Windows 11, but it could be called something else to align it with their other apps. It could be Windows One, Windows 365, or even Windows Series to bring back an old Windows Phone name and, given Microsoft's more recent penchant for the surprising, there are far more possibilities than we might have expected a decade ago.
One telling attribute is seeing that support for Windows 10 is ending in 2025, merely three years from now.
This only gives credence to the idea that Windows 11 is indeed on its way, and this version of Windows, released back in 2015, is already seeing an end date.
With Sun Valley still being hinted as another release of Windows 10 this year, it does seem as though Microsoft are gearing up for a major announcement on June 24.
Although it should be noted that in the past, Microsoft has delayed the killing off of previous Windows releases before, Windows 7 being a great example here. So we could still see Windows 10 live on beyond its 2025 end date.
Windows 11 features
While 'Sun Valley' is still rumored to have a refreshed look, it's not a long shot to imagine some of these features being moved into Windows 11 instead.
In the absence of confirmed features, there are several leaks and rumors that point towards what we can expect to see. Here’s what we know about so far.
A new look for Windows 11
In the latest Insider dev channels, there are already countless icons that have seen a redesign, giving most of these the most dramatic changes in looks since Windows 7.
It's been long rumored that the UI is currently being redesigned, with a new font, Segoe UI Variable, already enabled in dev versions as early as build 21376. However, Microsoft's design team is also looking for a new font, asking users to pick from five fonts to replace Calibri.
It's not just the fonts and the icons that are seeing a refresh, it even goes to the corners across the whole of the operating system, and it could be moved onto Windows 11 to make it stand out as it's own huge update to Windows 10.
Alongside the new look, there's also the implementation of rounded corners coming up. This will remove the sharp edges across the whole of the user interface and bring a softer appearance to Windows 11.
Microsoft has published mock-up images of the Settings app already that provides an early look at the subtle, but effective change this could make to Windows 11 instead.
From app windows to the Start Menu, to buttons, Live Tiles, and even the Action Center. This one feature could have a dramatic effect on how Windows 11 looks, and help make it stand out to users if they are upgrading from Windows 10.
Windows 11 new OS features
A big update to Windows 11 won't just be to the look of the operating system, but in the useful features that it can bring to many situations.
It's been reported that Microsoft will be including battery usage statistics to the Settings app. Smartphones have had this sort of feature for many years, but it's been conspicuously absent in Windows.
Other rumored features that could be moved over from 'Sun Valley' to Windows 11 could include the ability to uninstall most of the pre-installed Microsoft apps, improvements to snap assist for external displays, and a dashboard for your Microsoft Account that lives in the taskbar.
Additionally, recent test builds have suggested that the taskbar and the File Explorer process usually seen in Task Manager looks to be separated at long last.
Windows 11 tablet improvements
Tablet mode has been one of Windows' weaker points ever since Windows 8.
However the most important feature currently rumored is a new ‘gesture layer’ that would sit above the user interface and allow trackpad-like gestures on a touchscreen.
Pen and voice inputs are both expected to receive further refinement as well, with a new UI for voice and context menu for pen both planned.
These tablet features could be a showcase for Windows 11, especially with future Surface products in the pipeline from Microsoft. To have a new, numbered operating system for its upcoming tablets could be a big selling point for new users in due time.