Microsoft’s “next generation” of Windows event is taking place later this week, on June 24th at 11AM ET. Thanks to a big Windows 11 leak, we already have a good idea of what to expect from Microsoft’s event.
Microsoft is widely expected to announce a new version of Windows, named Windows 11. Microsoft has been teasing “a new version of Windows” recently and has dropped a number of hints that it’s likely to be Windows 11. This special Windows event starts at 11AM ET, and the 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 an 11-minute video has teased a new Windows 11 startup sound.
We’re expecting Windows 11 to include a new user interface, new Windows store, and much more. We’ll be covering the whole event live at The Verge, but here’s a rundown of what we expect to see.
New Windows 11 UI
We’ve known for months that Microsoft has been working on UI improvements to Windows, and it looks like most of them will appear in Windows 11. A leaked version of the operating system includes an updated design, with a new Start menu that now appears centered on the taskbar.
It’s very similar to what we’ve seen in Windows 10X, which Microsoft canceled in favor of bringing parts of that OS to the main version of Windows. The 10X version of Windows was originally built for dual-screen devices, but Microsoft has now put that work on hold.
The new Start menu in Windows 11 acts as more of a launcher in the leaked copy, allowing you to find recently used documents or favorite apps quickly. The Live Tiles that originally appeared in Windows 8 are now gone, but you can still move the Start menu to the left-hand side of the screen.
There are other subtle UI improvements beyond just the Start menu and button. We’re expecting to see a big focus on rounded corners with Windows 11 and new improvements to multitasking across tablets, laptops, and desktop PCs. The leaked copy doesn’t have every UI change, and we’re expecting additional changes to the taskbar, notification center, and general parts of Windows like the volume pop-up and more.
A new Windows store
We also anticipate Microsoft will spend time talking about its new store approach in Windows 11. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella teased “significant updates” for Windows that will focus on the economic opportunity for developers and creators. “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,” said Nadella last month.
Microsoft has reportedly been working on a new Windows store that’s open to all apps and games. The overhaul could pave the way for developers to submit any Windows application to the store, including browsers like Chrome or Firefox, and even allow third-party commerce platforms in apps.
Enabling third-party commerce platforms across apps found in the Windows store would allow developers to bypass the 15 percent cut that Microsoft takes from developers who use in-app payments. That would be a significant change, during a time when Microsoft, Epic Games, and others are piling on the pressure for Apple to make changes to its App Store policies.
Microsoft recently announced a reduction to the 30 percent cut it takes from PC games on the Windows store, too. This has dropped to just 12 percent, below the 15 percent cut it takes on apps. It matches what Epic Games offers in its own store, and the move will likely put more pressure on Valve’s Steam store.
A focus on those who rely on Windows
While Microsoft has tried to entice creators, developers, and others to Windows in the past, we’re expecting the company to focus on core improvements in Windows 11 that will benefit those who rely on the operating system daily.
Microsoft was surprised to see Windows usage explode during the pandemic, and it feels like Windows 11 is the chance to prove the company has invested more in the overall health of its decades-old operating system. We’re hoping to see a bigger focus on productivity and even some power user features, alongside the usual improvements to security that Microsoft typically delivers with new Windows versions.
We’ve seen hints at improving the multitasking interface across desktop PCs and even tablets in the leaked version of Windows 11, with a new UI that lets you easily snap apps. Microsoft is also improving how it handles multiple monitor support in Windows 11, bringing an end to the frustrations that power users have experienced for years.
There’s also an opportunity for Microsoft to focus more on gaming with Windows 11. It’s been a big area of focus on the Xbox side recently, and Microsoft admitted years ago that it has a lot of work to do on Windows PC gaming. Some of that has already started with a new Xbox app we expect to see bundled in Windows 11, and the impressive Xbox Game Bar. But there are some underlying changes Microsoft can make to Windows to improve PC gaming and performance.
We’re expecting to hear more about the Auto HDR feature from Xbox that’s coming to Windows, alongside improvements like DirectStorage that will speed up game load times. We’d also love to see some improvements around game security, to prevent aimbots and wallhacks in games, but we’re not expecting Windows 11 to solve this complicated problem alone. Microsoft does have a chance to prove it’s more committed to PC gaming with Windows 11, particularly as it’s the platform of choice for PC gamers.
A free upgrade
We’re expecting Windows 11 to be a free upgrade for any PC running Windows 10 right now. Microsoft focused heavily on free upgrades to Windows 10 during its launch period, and it wouldn’t make sense to suddenly start charging for Windows 11. Microsoft makes most of its Windows revenue through OEM or commercial licenses, so a free upgrade to Windows 11 for consumers seems like a no-brainer.
Stay tuned to The Verge on June 24th at 11AM ET / 8AM PT. We’ll be covering all of Microsoft’s Windows 11 announcements, alongside a live blog of everything that’s happening during the next generation of Windows event.