We thought the big Microsoft Windows 10 update for 2021 was going to be as close as we’re were ever going to get to an actual Windows 11 OS, but recent rumours have suggested Microsoft is going for one more numbered release. The company previously ‘confirmed’ that Windows 10 would be “the last version of Windows,” and with the Microsoft operating system moving to a service model, and twice yearly updates, there would be no Windows 11.
But the team is looking to completely refresh the look, feel, and usability of Windows 10 to make it seem like more than just a bunch of little bug-fixing patches. And it looks like that has convinced the powers that be that it could give it an entirely fresh name too.
It’s also going to give us less bloatware on our own fresh installs. 2021’s biggest update, codenamed Sun Valley, is not going to be as big a behind-the-scenes change as the cancelled Windows 10X release, but it will still be bringing some design elements from the newer PC OS.
Windows 10X? Don’t worry, it’s not something we need concern ourselves with overmuch as it wasn’t designed for gaming PCs, and nor was it to be an operating system you could buy and download on its own. Before its demise Win10X was aimed at enterprise and education notebooks, a more stripped back setup, initially launching without support for a whole lot of legacy stuff, such as Win32 support. Whatever, it’s dead now.
But the Windows 10 Sun Valley update is aiming to breathe a little new life into the OS, as WindowsCentral’s Zac Bowden noted in Microsoft job listings, the company is looking to “deliver a sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows experiences to signal to our customers that Windows is BACK and ensure that Windows is considered the best user OS experience for customers.”
So, how is Microsoft going to signal to us that Windows is, indeed, BACK?
Microsoft has stuck to a pretty solid release cadence for its twice yearly updates for Windows 10 recently. That being a spring and autumn update, with the first of the year coming around April or May time, and the second dropping on to our PCs in either October or November.
Microsoft has a big event penned for June 24, however, which is promising to show us “what’s next for Windows.” And the expectation in the industry is that Microsoft is going to announce Windows 11. Whether that will actually be the new name for the Windows Sun Valley update we don’t know, but we don’t have long to wait to find out now.
Given that the aforementioned job listing is pretty recent the big refresh isn’t likely to be in the first flush of Windows 10 updates this year. We are then looking at the Sun Valley update to be the October/November release instead.
Microsoft has let slip the general release date for its first 2021 Windows 10 update, however, with the 21H1 update being given a June 2021 timeframe in a subsequently edited Chromium code commit. The commit originally read: “The Windows Release coming out this June 2021 has a new API that can disable KTM exploits.”
Windows 10 21H1 is going to be more of a slight update, mainly bug fixes, and mild improvements, so we’re going to be waiting on Sun Valley for the new features.
Maybe not the most exciting new feature, but the latest news is that Microsoft is promising to ditch the bloatware from fresh installs of its Sun Valley update. Of course, you’re still going to find every laptop maker under the sun filling their machines to the brim with useless apps you have to uninstall as soon as you get your notebook out of the box, but your own installs will be mercifully clutter-free.
It is being reported that the Windows 10 21H2 Sun Valley update will remove Skype, the links to Microsoft Office’s free webby version, the Cortana app, Paint 3D, and 3D Viewer. Every little helps.
The big user interface refresh is arguably the most important new feature of Microsoft’s main Windows 10 update. It’s this new visual language which the company will hope signals a more sweeping change to the operating system. Key to the change is an overall softening of the rather boxy, angular design that is the current hallmark of Windows 10.
That means we’re going to see a rounding off of the corners on buttons, UI elements, and application windows. Depending on your personal preferences that could be a welcome change, though I have to say I kinda dig the more utilitarian aesthetic of the sharp edges, especially of the frame-free app windows.