Windows 10 21H2 early desktop view

Windows 10 21H2 will introduce big visual changes in 2021

Windows 10 UI is getting a significant refresh in 2021 to remove inconsistencies and make the OS more modern.

Microsoft is reportedly planning to introduce big visual changes with Windows 10 21H2, and they’re expected to rollout in the second half of 2021. According to a recent report from Windows Central, sources familiar with the plans revealed that the project is being developed under the “Sun Valley” codename, and it’s not going to be subtle, instead the update will bring significant changes.

Although the company has released a number of major updates for Windows 10, there hasn’t been a lot of investment in the user interface. Since the desktop looks almost identical to the original version, and design inconsistencies are all around.

What new changes are coming to Windows 10

It remains to be seen the actual changes that Microsoft will ship, but the report suggests that there will be a focus on the main parts of the operating system, including Start menu, Action Center, taskbar, and File Explorer, and you can expect to see new design and animations that are more consistent, and new features.

According to sources familiar to the Sun Valley project have revealed that the changes for the Start menu and Action Center will be based on the design already available on Windows 10X. The taskbar is expected to be rebuilt with modern code, and instead of adding a new modern version of File Explorer, we’re likely to see new features and tweaks to improve the existing experience.

Other changes expected to arrive during the second half of 2021 are rounded corners in apps and visual elements, and Windows 10 will adopt more modern designs across the desktop and apps, as we can already see with various of the improvements available in the Dev Channel. Also, more legacy elements will receive updates to support the dark system color mode to make the experience a little more consistent. 

This major refresh will still continue to include the same familiar experience as you see today. In part is to help avoid a learning curve and prevent companies having to invest in retraining employees. Also, this is not part of a new design language, instead Microsoft will be updating the existing Fluent Design System (introduced in 2017) to improve the experience of Windows 10 to make it more consistent and meet the user expectations of a modern operating system. 

When these new changes will arrive to Windows 10

Microsoft hasn’t shared any official details, but these changes are expected to arrive with the version 21H2 update schedule, and not during the version 21H1 schedule. The reason is that the release schedule of new feature updates is expected to change in 2021. According to a report from ZDNet, Windows 10 is expected to receive only one major update per year, and the company is planning to use the first half of the year schedule to release feature updates for Windows 10X.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].