Microsoft looks ready to launch Windows 11

Microsoft has been teasing a “next generation” of Windows for months now, but new hints suggest the company isn’t just preparing an update to its existing Windows 10 software, but a new, numbered version of the operating system: Windows 11.

The software giant announced a new Windows event for June 24th yesterday, promising to show “what’s next for Windows.” The event invite included an image of what looks like a new Windows logo, with light shining through the window in only two vertical bars, creating an outline that looks very much like the number 11. Microsoft followed up with an animated version of this image, making it clear the company intentionally ignored the horizontal bars.

Microsoft’s Windows event also starts at 11AM ET, not the usual start time for typical Windows and Surface events. Following the event invite, Microsoft exec Yusuf Mehdi said he hasn’t “been this excited for a new version of Windows since Windows 95!” It’s the first time we’ve heard Microsoft specifically mention a “new version” of Windows is on the way.

The event invite also comes just a week after Nadella teased a “next generation of Windows” announcement. Nadella promised that Microsoft would soon share “one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade.” Microsoft’s chief product officer, Panos Panay, also teased a “next generation” of Windows earlier this year.

If Microsoft is truly readying to move beyond Windows 10 and towards Windows 11, we’re expecting to see big visual changes to reflect that. Microsoft has been working on something codenamed Sun Valley, which the company has referred to as a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows.”

Big UI changes are coming to Windows.

A lot of these visual changes will come from the work Microsoft completed on Windows 10X, a lightweight version of Windows intended to rival Chrome OS, before it was scrapped. That includes a new Start menu, new system icons, File Explorer improvements, and the end of Windows 95-era icons that drag Windows users back to the past in dialog boxes. Rounded corners and updates to the built-in Windows apps are also planned.

Significant changes are also on the way for Windows beyond the user interface. Microsoft appears to be ready to address a lot of lingering problems, with fixes planned for a rearranging apps issue on multiple monitors, an upcoming Xbox Auto HDR feature, and improvements to Bluetooth audio support.

Perhaps the biggest lingering issue waiting to be fixed is the Windows store. Microsoft has been working on a new app store for Windows in recent months, and rumors suggest it will be a significant departure from what exists today. Nadella has promised to “unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators” with Windows, and the Windows store seems like the obvious way to do that.

Microsoft is reportedly overhauling its Windows app store to allow developers to submit any Windows application, including browsers like Chrome or Firefox. This would significantly improve the store alone, but Microsoft might also be considering allowing third-party commerce platforms in apps. That would mean Microsoft wouldn’t take a cut from developers who use their own in-app purchase systems.

Some of the changes Microsoft planned for Windows 10X are now coming to Windows.

So far, Microsoft has only announced a cut to 12 percent commission for PC games in the Windows store, but allowing developers to bypass Microsoft’s cut would be a significant change.

Moving to Windows 11 branding would also back up Microsoft’s reinvestment in Windows. The software maker signaled a renewed interest in Windows last year, during a pandemic that has demonstrated how important the operating system is. Windows usage jumped as workers and students across the world turned to laptops and PCs to work from home. PC shipments have also surged over the past year.

After slicing Windows into two parts back in 2018, Microsoft moved parts of Windows development back under Panos Panay’s control last year. The move was a clear admission that Microsoft’s Windows split didn’t work, after months of messy development experiences for Windows 10, delayed Windows updates, a lack of major new features, and lots of Windows update issues.

Moving to Windows 11 would still be a surprise move for Microsoft, though. The company previously referred to Windows 10 as “the last version of Windows” in its big push to position the OS as a service that’s continually updated. While there are monthly updates to Windows, the more significant changes are typically delivered twice a year.

A new version of Windows always helps boost PC sales.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Microsoft has struggled with naming these updates, though. We’ve seen the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Fall Creators Update, and simple dates like the November 2019 Update. Microsoft has also adopted yet another naming scheme recently, referring to updates as 20H1 or 21H1 to signify both the release year and part of the year the update launched.

A move to Windows 11 wouldn’t necessarily clear up Microsoft’s update naming issues, but if the company also adopted point releases like Windows 11.1, that would certainly help both consumers and IT admins to quickly understand which version is the latest.

OEMs would also be happy to see a Windows 11 release. A new version of Windows always drives new hardware sales and renewed interest in the operating system. If Microsoft backs that up with a new UI and a fresh look and feel for Windows, it will be the typical playbook we’ve seen for Windows for decades.

It’s not long until we find out whether Microsoft is ready to dial the version number of Windows up to 11. The Windows elevent (as I’m now calling it) will start at 11AM ET on June 24th, and The Verge will be covering all the news live as it happens.

Comments

I’m pretty excited to see what they have. I hope some of that Surface Neo DNA from the 10X UI means they’ll be taking tablets seriously again.

Insert that scene from the office the calm down its happening

Is that a safer assumption than "Windows 10 July 2021 Release" or something?

Or 10.1, like 8 → 8.1?

Instead, just remove the number and call it "Windows" (with versions still there if needed, but not marketed)

Well yeah as this version is a bigger ‘upgrade’ to Windows 10 than the last few upgrades between Windows 10 versions, at least functionally/visually so it’s very realistic that it will go through a branding change. But it’s still just a upgrade like any other w10 update, so it’s not a paid upgrade.

Big branding changes usually come when you want to sell something new though. If it continues the same SaaS/selling other services off it, why use that 11 yet.

So Microsoft isn’t allowed to do what everyone else on the market is currently doing? Have you even thought your argument through, Microsoft does not need to sell you a new piece of windows software, they still have a continuous revenue stream from OEM and Enterprise, they also have jack all interest throwing away 1.3B+ existing users.

Can you highlight where I said allowed?

Why is online discourse annoying now…I just said usually a big branding change comes with something they want to sell you, it’s just strange if true is all. I’m for either option, but I’m not clear if we know it’s 11 yet.

Because iOS/Android/ChromeOS go through branding changes like that routinely? It’s not like microsoft is renaming ‘Windows’ to ‘Lindos’ or something, which is an actual branding change, changing a number from 10 to 11 (if they do that) is hardly significant enough. Also have you forgotten that Microsoft didn’t even charge for Windows 10 update either, it was a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and 8 Users, why would they change course and suddenly charge for an upgrade when everyone else abandoned charging for upgrades even Microsoft themself

They are still charging for Windows through other means.

They need to remove the number, just call it "Windows" Keep the "21H1" versioning though.

I can almost guarantee the next version of Windows will not be called Windows 11. It may not be sexy, but it will be called Windows 10 21H2.

I think it’ll be 11.

Have you noticed the light on the floor in that image? It comes in the window in the shape of an 11 (the horizontal line form the window is missing). I’m sure that must be deliberate.

And now, multiple leakers have corroborated "Window 11" as a brand Microsoft will be using. Remains to be seen if we’ll have Windows 11 and Windows 10 21H2 or 21H2 = Windows 11.

evleaks
Brad Sams

If it really is Windows 11, all the major OEMs & PC hardware manufacturers already know about the rebrand, so we should see even more leaks before June 24th.

sus
Very sus
Amogus

didnt microsoft say a couple years ago that windows 10 would be the last windows? it is all service from there. given that statement, in combination with their unification with the ‘tablet version’/10x, the ‘new’ windows might just be called ‘windows’, which some people speculated back then as well.

I don’t think it matters as long as it comes as an update to 10 that most non-tech-savvy people can install. That’s the real break between the ideas of 7/8 and 10.

At this point, if its not Windows 11, it will be a disappointment. They have set themselves up to have to call it Windows 11. Windows 10 will be a huge disappointment, even if the upgrade is the same as if they called it Windows 11. You can’t over promise and under deliver and the name will do just that.

Am I finally going to be able to move my mouse from the top right corner of my first monitor to the top left corner of the second?

You just have to push it, push it real good, to get through the invisible wall.

Idk, but you can use the winSnap keyboard shortcuts to move windows like that

You know, until I read this rather innocuous comment I’d never thought about this. I just tried it and yeah, guess I never noticed this odd little effect. Does it happen with two identical monitors or just when you have two different sized screens (say laptop hooked to a monitor)? I have the latter so curious

That’s a feature so you can easily access the window buttons.

Pretty sure that happens so you can easily stop to close an open window. I’ve literally never noticed it before, but it makes a lot of sense and I’m glad its there.

I’ve noticed it before but I am also glad it’s there. Targeting important UI elements in corners easily is a useful feature.

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