For months, we’ve been hearing of a major upgrade for Windows 10, codenamed Sun Valley. We first heard of this in October 2020. This was when Microsoft insiders divulged that a visual refresh is underway.
Finally, after months of speculation, we will get a concrete answer on June 24, 2021. So, is Microsoft launching Windows 11? Or is Windows 10 Sun Valley something different entirely?
Is Windows 10 Sun Valley Actually Windows 11?
After being left alone for years, reports indicate that Microsoft will finally release a major UI overhaul to Windows 10.
Alongside the speculation for Sun Valley update is the news that development for the Windows 10x OS has been shelved, possibly for good. This Windows OS, designed for the Surface Neo, Surface Duo, and other dual-screen devices, is optimized for touch input.
As we know, the market is heading in the direction of dual-screen devices. Could it be that instead of making a standalone OS, they’re incorporating its features into Windows 11 instead?
Price & Release Date
It’s pretty much confirmed that Windows 11 will be announced at the June 24 event, but that doesn’t mean we have a firm release date for the update.
Right now, a release later this fall or early next year seems likely based on how previous Windows releases have been scheduled. Microsoft would first need to beta test the operating system with Windows Insiders before releasing it to manufacturers 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.” A leaked version of Windows 11 also surfaced, providing a first look at a near-final version of the operating system, as seen in the other images in the this post.
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 seems like it could end up being an entirely new OS separate from Windows 10, and Windows 10 could be left as an option for those who still want to use it until Microsoft retires it in 2025. There’s still no word on which devices would run Windows 11, though. From our hands-on time, we believe any device that could run Windows 10 will also be able to run Windows 11.
A visual redesign for Taskbar and Start Menu
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 Sun Valley. That said, we believe elements of this Sun Valley visual update will eventually come to Windows 11. We say this because a new round of Windows 11 leaks just exposed the work that Microsoft has been doing on the new OS.
We installed the leaked Windows 11 build and have included a few screenshots of what could be new in Windows 11 for you throughout this section. A floating and centered Start Menu and centered Taskbar are the two most noticeable new elements. They give Windows a drastic new feel, both ditching Live Tiles and adopting a more touch-friendly design. Instead of Live Tiles, you have standard icons that link to your apps and that you can “pin” for your convenience.
Under your icons, you’ll find a list of recommended documents and files, powered by OneDrive or the files you navigate to most on your device. This is one of the biggest changes to the Start Menu since Windows 10 was introduced.
Other than the Start Menu, floating jump lists in the Taskbar are another new element, though we have yet to see it in the leaked build. Rounded corners and menus throughout Windows 11 are also new, as is an Action Center with a redesigned look focusing more on cleaner sliders and rounded buttons. Microsoft even tweaked the windowing system in Windows 11, at least in this leaked build. Hovering over the maximize icon will show you new ways to split your apps for multitasking.
New animations, sounds, and widgets
Animations throughout Windows 11 have also been updated to look more smooth and feel more natural. This is best seen when you click on the Start Menu itself or minimize and close windows. The animations look and feel fluid, not unlike what you see on mobile operating systems.
Windows 11 will also ship with a new collection of sounds, which also help to transform the vibe of Windows to feel fresh.
Like old-school Windows Vista, Windows 11 brings back a new “widgets” section. The widgets function a bit like the News and Interests feature in Windows 10. Click the widgets icon in the taskbar, and then you’ll see things like the weather, top news stories, stocks, sports scores, and more. We’re assuming widgets might see an expansion once Windows 11 is final.
Other features include more touch-friendly windows, a new split-screen feature for better multitasking, and new gestures for tablets.
Microsoft has been dropping hints that it’s ready to launch Windows 11. The software giant is holding a special Windows event to reveal its next OS on June 24th. The event starts at 11AM ET, and the event invite includes a window that creates a shadow with an outline that looks like the number 11. Microsoft execs have also been teasing a “next generation of Windows” announcement for months, and this leak now confirms that Windows 11 will be officially revealed later this month.