After six years, Microsoft is ready to start weening out Windows 10, with Windows 11 on the way. The Redmond, WA-based company has been teasing its latest operating system (OS) update for a while. Now, we have an idea of what users will be getting when the time comes.
The newest iteration of the Windows OS is expected to be announced on June 24 at an event that will show PC users “what’s next for Windows.” By all accounts, that leads to the reveal of Windows 11 along with its new user interface, optimization improvements, special features, and more.
What’s Windows 11?
If made official, Windows 11 will be the 13th iteration of the OS that debuted in 1985 as a follow-up to MS-DOS. Despitethe company touting Windows 10 as the “last version of Windows,” it does appear that enough development has happened to bring in new features that warrant a name change as opposed to just a Windows 10 update
As far as the name goes, subtle hints have been dropped. The biggest being the Windows event teaser image that shows the reflection of the number 11 on the floor. Even scheduling the event for 11 AM ET — Microsoft usually hosts them later in the day for west coast viewers — seems like a tease for the OS’ official name. That said, Microsoft could decide to pull a 180° and give the OS a new, uniform name like dropping the number altogether and simply going with “Windows.”
Of course, the big question is when will it launch? Rumblings have it slated for late 2021, but that should be confirmed during the reveal. In regards to pricing, one could assume that Microsoft will do a limited free upgrade from Windows 10 at launch. For a specific price, should Windows 11 come in multiple versions like past releases, we could see it ranging from $100-$120 USD for the lowest version to about $200+ USD for the highest feature set.
All of that, however, is purely speculative for now.
What will the new OS have in store?
Without any sort of confirmation just yet, it’s expected that Windows 11 will include a number of user interface updates right “out of the box.”
Originally planned as a Windows 10 update codenamed “Sun Valley,” Windows 11 will likely take the improvements from there and bundle them in. The new OS, codenamed Cobalt, would see a complete visual refresh with more rounded edges, font and icon updates, changes to the layout of the Start menu, and more.
With the shelving of Windows 10X, many design implementations set for the lightweight OS will transfer over to Windows 11. That would include improved voice typing, better taskbar nesting and layout, and jump lists. Jump lists, for those unfamiliar, are smaller menus that appear when right-clicking an app.
The File Explorer should get some love from Microsoft too, with a much friendlier look than what we’ve seen. On top of that, a separation of the taskbar and File Explorer on the back end is anticipated. This should lead to far fewer hang-ups on the front end than what Windows 10 has had.
Sticking with general performance, battery usage statistics may be coming with the update. A permanent fix for the 100% disk usage bug that has plagued Windows 10 machines that use hard disk drives (HDD) as a boot device is also expected. There’s speculation that the ability to remove pre-installed Microsoft apps if desired will arrive with Windows 11 as well.
Outside of the day-to-day features, Microsoft could be planning an overhaul of the Windows Store. Likely to be a departure from the bloated and slow Windows Store that’s been available, this new version will be much more streamlined for both users and developers. The changes to the store will be Microsoft’s attempt to make it a more attractive place for developers to launch their games and gamers to buy them.
On a much smaller scale, based on a recent video uploaded by Microsoft, Windows 11 could see the return of startup sounds. For nostalgia purposes, that could be welcomed news for a lot of users.
Windows 10 vs Windows 11
With the focus on Sun Valley for so long, it’s tough to decipher what will be part of a new Windows 10 update versus what we’ll get from Windows 11. For example, will features like the ability to reorder your Virtual Desktops and multi-monitor support be available for everyone or just Windows 11 users? What about the aforementioned Windows 10X features? How much will come to Windows 10?
Until the official reveal happens, it’s hard to know. There’s no doubt Microsoft is going to do as much as it can to convince users to upgrade. But there’s still a large userbase to keep happy that would prefer to stick with that they have for now.
If you decide not to update to Windows 11 right away, Microsoft will continue its support of Windows 10 until October 14, 2025.