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What’s Windows 11 (Sun Valley), what to expect, when will it release?

Windows 11, a new operating system set to be the biggest update in more than a decade, and here's what to expect, when it will release, and more.

Windows 11 desktop

Windows 11 is the name that Microsoft may be planning to use for the next version of Windows (codenamed Sun Valley and referred to as version 21H2) that will replace Windows 10. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, this will be the most significant update of the past decade.

Although it is yet unclear exactly how different Windows 11 will be from Windows 10, in a nutshell, we know that it will focus on modernizing the look and feel of the desktop and elements across the experience. There will be new features. And the company will introduce new ways developers will build, distribute, and monetize applications.

Microsoft is expected to host a new “what’s next for Windows” event on June 24, 2021, and that’s when we are expecting the company to share more details about the specifics of the new version, including more information about the new features, visual changes, target release date, and more. The event will begin at 11 AM ET / 8 AM PT and stream live from the Microsoft website.

What new features and changes are expected on Windows 11?

Based on the rumors and preview builds available through the Dev Channel of the Windows Insider Program, we expect to see a new Microsoft Store with a more user-friendly interface, modern design, and significant policy changes to be more open for end-users and developers.

The company will also be making a big push on refreshing the desktop with new system icons across the Start menu, taskbar, Action Center, Settings, and even File Explorer.

Windows 11 will also ship with the new Segoe UI Variable font family, designed to make it possible to scale the font seamlessly from small to larger display sizes. It will also include legibility and outline improvements in small sizes.

Segoe UI Variable font
Segoe UI Variable font (source: Microsoft)

Alongside the new iconography and font, this will be an update that will focus on rounding corners for many elements, such as buttons, menus, and frames. Microsoft will likely introduce an updated version of the Start menu that could be based on the Windows 10X design but not identical. In addition, the taskbar is expected to receive an update as well, with some interesting tweaks and elements like Action Center, Start menu, and jump lists menu appearing floating above the taskbar.

Furthermore, Microsoft will improve the interface between the Start menu, Action Center, taskbar, and File Explorer to include a more consistent design.

Windows 11 will introduce a new Auto HDR feature to convert SDR games into HDR content automatically. In addition, you will find a redesigned touch keyboard experience and a new version of the Voice Typing application to convert voice into text. And Microsoft will bring Linux GUI app support with the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

The Settings app is also getting a significant update with a bunch of tweaks and new features. For example, you will find a new Cameras settings page to set up and manage network cameras and webcams.

Manage Disks and Volumes is a new version of the Disk Management tool, which will be available in the Storage settings to view all the drives connected to the device, and options to create, resize, format, and change letters for partitions.

Manage Disks and Volumes settings
Manage Disks and Volumes settings

Windows 11 is also bringing Storage Spaces to the Settings app. This means you will be able to create and manage storage pools and storage spaces, add and remove drives, and optimize pools within the Settings app without the need to open Control Panel or use PowerShell commands.

What not to expect from Windows 11?

Although Microsoft may be planning to change the name of its operating system, it does not necessarily mean that everything will be completely different.

For instance, you won’t find a new version of File Explorer. Instead, you will discover tweaks and other improvements for the existing file manager. The operating system will continue to ship with many legacy tools that still look like Windows 7. We are talking about the Task Manager, Device Manager, Disk Management, and others.

Windows 11 File Explorer
Windows 11 File Explorer

The Start menu will continue to launch from the bottom left corner, and Action Center will appear from the right-hand side. The taskbar will continue to exist, but it will include new tweaks.

So, with this new version of Windows, you will get many new things, but it won’t have a learning curve if you are coming from Windows 10.

What’s the Windows 11 release date?

Microsoft has yet to make the announcement, but if the company follows the same release schedule as previous versions, Windows 11 may release sometime in October 2021.

Will I need new hardware to upgrade to Windows 11?

Not likely. Windows 11 will be based on the previous version of the operating system, which means that if your computer already has Windows 10, it should be compatible with the new operating system.

However, if you have a device with an older version, Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, then you may need new hardware, but only because it might be too old to handle the new version.

Will the next version be called Windows 11?

We don’t know for sure, but it looks that way. The rumors have been pointing out that Windows 11 will be the name. Also, Microsoft seems to be teasing this name too. For example, the company is known to hide details in plain sight, and the official invitation of the “what’s next for Windows” event is scheduled for “11” in the morning. Also, if you look closely at the image on the invitation, you will notice a window with a light reflection that resembles the number “11.”

Windows 11 name hint
Windows 11 name hint

What’s going to happen to Windows 10?

Windows 10 will continue to be available for the forcible future like any other previous operating system version. However, the official documentation page already says that Windows 10 will reach the end of life on October 14, 2025, which means that Microsoft will no longer offer updates or any support after this time.