Microsoft is preparing a major update for Windows 10 in 2021, which will include significant changes to the operating system’s user interface, according to Windows Central sources. In particular, the software giant plans to update the style of the Start menu, the Notifications & Actions section, and even File Explorer.
The project is tentatively titled Sun Valley and is expected to be added to the Windows 10 Cobalt release slated for the 2021 holiday season. According to internal documentation, the project aims to revitalize and modernize the Windows experience to meet the expectations of customers around the world.
For the past five years, Windows 10 has remained largely unchanged in terms of design and functionality. Many other modern platforms have received either a complete redesign or a partial interface update during this time. With the introduction of the Fluent Design concept, Windows 10 looks a little prettier, but these changes can hardly be called global. The Sun Valley project appears to be run by Windows Devices and Experiences, led by Panos Panay.
It’s too early to tell what changes to expect in Sun Valley. Sources claim that the basis for the new “Start” and the section “Notifications and actions” will be based on the developments of Windows 10X, adapted for the PC. Microsoft is also working on an updated taskbar that uses modern code and an improved interface for the classic version of File Explorer. The version of the system for tablets and touch screens will receive improved animation and a smoother interface. It is already known that Microsoft is updating the touch keyboard and emoji, these changes have already been posted on the Windows Insider Dev Channel. The company will also continue its trend of rounding corners across its entire user interface, including application windows and other areas of its shell.
The sources also talk about wider adoption of the WinUI library in the Windows shell and embedded applications, which should provide subtle but important changes to the overall style. Even more interface elements will receive support for dark mode to make the operating system look and feel more cohesive. Essentially, this will all be an evolution of Fluent Design.
Microsoft hopes that most of this work will be done by June 2021. Then the build of Windows 10 with an updated design will begin testing in the beta channel, after which (probably in the fall) the release will become available to all users. Initially, the company is supposed to provide the ability to switch between the old and the new interface, giving users time to get used to the changes.
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