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(Cybertech) – It’s nearly time for a next-generation version of the world’s most popular desktop operating system – Microsoft Windows.

We believe the update will be known as Windows 11 thanks to some hints Microsoft has been dropping and Microsoft has scheduled a ‘What’s next for Windows’ event for 24 June 2021. The event will be livestreamed. 

Microsoft has been stuck on Windows 10 for quite some time – since 2015 in fact. The reason for that is fairly simple, Microsoft has iterated Windows 10 through twice-yearly updates, but not brought forth any fundamental changes.

It also probably wanted to stick with a successful version of Windows given that while 2001’s Windows XP and 2009’s Windows 7 were massively successful, the in-between versions of 2006’s Windows Vista and Windows 8/8.1 (2012-13) weren’t that well received. 

We’ve known for a while that 2021 would bring a refresh to the Windows design, but it now appears to be bearing fruit as a new version codenamed Cobalt and known as Windows 11. The interface refresh itself is apparently known as Sun Valley internally at Microsoft. 

What’s happened with Windows 11?

10 June 2021 – Windows 11 will have a startup sound

Microsoft has dropped a rather over-the-top video (above) with Windows startup sounds from the past slowed down by 4,000 percent – yes really. It’s a direct teaser for the What’s Next for Windows digital event so we can only assume that Windows will, once again, have a startup sound (as Windows 10 X was supposed to have).

3 June 2021 – Microsoft confirms that there will be a ‘next-generation of Windows’

Microsoft sent out invitations to the media to its What’s Next for Windows digital event on 24 June, saying the key line “where the company will unveil the next generation of Windows”. The event teaser also had a reflection of the Windows logo on it with the crossbar taken out from the ‘window’ meaning that the logo reflection showed as two vertical bars – aka 11. 

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25 May 2021 – Microsoft teases the next version of Windows will be unveiled ‘very soon’

There was nothing about Windows ‘client’ in the agenda for Microsoft’s Build developer event this year, which we found rather odd. But the answer came during the opening keynote by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. 

“Soon we will share one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade to unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators,” teased Nadella. “I’ve been self-hosting it over the past several months, and I’m incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows.”

Clearly Microsoft wants to reinvigorate its app store. Nadella added: “We will create more opportunity for every Windows developer today and welcome every creator who is looking for the most innovative new, open platform to build and distribute and monetize applications. We look forward to sharing more very soon.”

This almost certainly ties into Project Reunion, revealed in 2020 as Microsoft’s latest attempt to sort out the mess of Windows apps

8 May 2021 – Microsoft reportedly kills Windows 10X, its answer to Chrome OS

At its 2019 Surface event – Microsoft revealed the Android-toting Surface Duo which launched, plus Surface Neo. That device was supposed to run Windows 10 X, a cut-down version of Windows that was reported in 2020 to be delayed but has now been cancelled. We may see some of its features in Windows 11 though. 

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6 May 2021 – Microsoft shows icon updates

The latest Insider Preview build of Windows shows Microsoft revising icons that have been around since the Windows 95 era ahead of the new Windows release. Microsoft has been revising numerous Windows File Explorer icons during early 2021. Stalwart Windows icons like This PC, Documents and Recycle Bin have been given a new look. 

This follows up on the new streamlined Start menu shown off in early 2020. 

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23 February 2021 – Sun Valley will introduce improved multitasking

The Sun Valley design update for Windows will apparently include enhanced snapping capabilities and making it easier to use. Soon you’ll be able to drag windows to the corner of the screen and those windows will then intuitively resize to fit perfectly. This should mean it’ll be even easier to multitask with side-by-side windows. 

Apparently Aero Shake – where you shake a window to clear the desktop – will become an optional setting while there will also be the ability to have separate virtual desktops for each monitor. 

4 January 2021 – Sun Valley set to be a “sweeping visual rejuvenation” 

According to a job listing from Microsoft, Sun Valley is set to be a “sweeping visual rejuvination” of Windows. The listing says: “On this team, you’ll work with our key platform, Surface, and OEM partners to orchestrate and deliver a sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows experiences to signal to our customers that Windows is BACK and ensure that Windows is considered the best user OS experience for customers.”

28 October 2020 – Interface refresh is called Sun Valley, OS is called Cobalt

The “significant design refresh” coming to Windows in 2021 is codenamed Sun Valley and will see many key elements given a refresh including the Start Menu, Action Center and File Explorer. The overhaul appears to be led by Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay.

The release is codenamed ‘Cobalt’ [at the time this seemed like a Windows 10 version, now it seems like a new OS version]. 

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19 May 2020 – Microsoft plans more investment in Windows 10

It was clear earlier in 2020 that Microsoft would be investing in Windows 10 further. Windows Central says: “It’s fair to say that Microsoft has put Windows on the backburner in the last couple of years as it shifted focused to other efforts at the company… The fact that Microsoft spokespeople are using words like “reinvestment” when talking about Windows 10 is a breath of fresh air for Windows fans who have been calling for Microsoft to refocus their efforts on Windows.”

Writing by Dan Grabham.


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