Microsoft is reportedly planning a major UI overhaul for Windows 10 next year

Humza

Posts: 758   +161
Staff member
The big picture: Microsoft's modular, lightweight Windows 10X is expected to roll out next year, albeit for single-screen devices initially. The OS is thought to bring a simpler and coherent UI/UX across several Windows components, and it now looks like a big UI refresh is on the cards for Windows 10 as well. Reportedly arriving in 21H2, the design overhaul project is codenamed 'Sun Valley' and will target the Windows 10 Start Menu, Action Center, File Explorer, and a few built-in apps.

We recently saw minor changes to various Windows components in Microsoft's October 2020 feature update, but next year the company will reportedly shift things into high gear, at least in terms of design.

Windows 10X, Microsoft's 'Lite' version of its standard OS, is expected to roll out publicly by spring next year, though it won't arrive for dual-screen devices until 2022. The new OS will also feature a familiar but modern Windows experience, as indicated by Microsoft's preview of its new File Explorer earlier this year.

Now though, it looks like the company has plans for a broader design refresh, presumably to align experiences across Windows 10X and its standard desktop counterpart. According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft may ship just one feature update for Windows 10 next year, which it internally calls "Cobalt." This update will arrive in the fall of 21H2 and pack big UI changes for the Start Menu, Action Center, and the legacy File Explorer.

Codenamed 'Sun Valley,' this UI refresh is apparently being worked on by the Windows Devices and Experiences team under the guidance of Microsoft's Chief Product Officer Panos Panay. Zac Bowden from Windows Central also notes that an updated Taskbar built with modern code, wider Dark mode support across legacy apps, and several tablet improvements can be expected from this overhaul.

Interestingly, Microsoft will also make these design changes optional, at least for some features, allowing users to switch back between new and old experiences. Once the company is able to achieve design uniformity and harmony across single-screen devices for Windows 10 and 10X, we can expect to see the latter tweaked further for upcoming dual-screen hardware like the delayed Surface Neo.

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BSim500

Posts: 706   +1,500
Let me guess, it'll add even more whitespace, hide more settings behind annoying sub-menus without solving the current "bi-polar" design, and dumb down the "light-weight File Explorer" more (even though it's already dumbed down far beyond what Windows 3.1 was...) then try and reintroduce Windows 8 style mobile UI on the desktop?

Probably the best thing that could happen to Windows 10 right now is for there to be a massive source code leak, then have the modding community remove all the telemetry, DRM activation, Cortana, Windows Store, XBox, etc, cr*p, then natively integrate Open Shell, scrap bi-annual "Feature Upgrades" and just have small monthly security / hardware compatibility only patches, and call it "W10 Debloated Consumer LTSC Edition - The only real W7 upgrade most of you have always wanted but MS refuses to provide"...
 

RedGuard

Posts: 85   +53
There's always Linux to go to. And from there the user can sit confortably and modify everything they want from /etc/*.conf all in a beautiful text environment.

To be honest, whenever I look at the content of /etc or /var in a windowed environment, it feels like I never saw those files before. Always console. And Torvald's biggest failure says it's that Linux never got to the desktop. Yeah, good luck putting random Joe modifying config files while reading a 500-page documentation.
 
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jizzyburnizzy

Posts: 76   +24
There's always Linux to go to. And from there the user can sit confortably and modify everything they want from /etc/*.conf all in a beautiful text environment.

To be honest, whenever I look at the content of /etc or /var in a windowed environment, it feels like I never saw those files before. Always console. And Torvald's biggest failure says it's that Linux never got to the desktop. Yeah, good luck putting random Joe modifying config files while reading a 500-page documentation.
I switched to Linux about 2 years ago and never been happier. Granted I don't use many applications other than spotify and steam but I've been on Pop OS and love it.
 

discoScrew

Posts: 9   +13
Let me guess, it'll add even more whitespace, hide more settings behind annoying sub-menus without solving the current "bi-polar" design, and dumb down the "light-weight File Explorer" more (even though it's already dumbed down far beyond what Windows 3.1 was...) then try and reintroduce Windows 8 style mobile UI on the desktop?

Probably the best thing that could happen to Windows 10 right now is for there to be a massive source code leak, then have the modding community remove all the telemetry, DRM activation, Cortana, Windows Store, XBox, etc, cr*p, then natively integrate Open Shell, scrap bi-annual "Feature Upgrades" and just have small monthly security / hardware compatibility only patches, and call it "W10 Debloated Consumer LTSC Edition - The only real W7 upgrade most of you have always wanted but MS refuses to provide"...
Best rant I have seen in a while
 
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Neatfeatguy

Posts: 98   +95
I don't know what update it was that was pushed out, but something during the month of October broke my windows 10 ability to access the internet.

I can get to the computer on my internal network without any issues, but nothing will get the computer to access the internet. I tried rolling back to a system restore prior to any updates, but that hasn't fixed the issue. From the computer I can ping the router and the modem, but cannot access the internet. I've completely disabled the firewalls on Windows 10, I confirmed nothing was being blocked on the firewall white/black lists. I even went as far as plugging the computer directly into the modem just to make sure the issue wasn't a result of the router, but she still won't get online. To top it off, none of the web browsers will open up anymore....Edge, IE, Firefox or Chrome. They will not launch....god how I fuc king hate Windows 10.

Time to wipe and re-install Windows 10 for the 4th time since I started using it on this computer 2 years ago. Windows needs to stop trying to re-invent the wheel every fuc king time they do updates. I swear MS has been just utterly worthless since Windows 10 released. I never had issues like the ones I'm having on any other Windows version I've used over the years and I went through many iterations of Windows: 3.1/NT/95/98/2000/ME/Vista/7.
 
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duckofdeath

Posts: 55   +38
Just go back to Windows XP or Windows 7 menus. They were much easier to work with and find what you were looking for. I don't want/need 10 submenus to get to the menu I want.
I prefer my PC not infected if malware, so I'll stick with Windows 10. :D
The only gripe I have with Windows 10 is the half-measure approach to the Windows 10 user experience. It's there in most places but disappears in other places. Just stick to one design, Microsoft.
 
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MaestroIT

Posts: 25   +17
Of we learned something with Windows 10, then this article has a wrong title, it should be: Microsoft is reportedly planning a major UI overhaul for Windows 10 starting next year and hoping to finish it by 2030.
 

Polycount

Posts: 2,696   +566
Staff member
A start menu overhaul won't bother me, since I just use Start10 anyway, but the other overhauls.. A bit troubling.

I'm one of those crazy people that actually appreciates that many Windows 7 menus still persist throughout Windows 10. They're information-dense, and they have lots of settings and toggles within easy reach. The Windows 10 menus, by contrast, are heavily simplified and not nearly as powerful or efficient for me.
 
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CrisisDog

Posts: 201   +101
Whatever they do, please don‘t go back to Windows 8.
Windows 8 was not a great desktop OS. But if you had a Surface device with no keyboard, it actually worked quite well for touchscreen. And now we have Windows 10, which in my opinion, has lost all usability with touchscreens when they ditched the mobile / phone code.
 

Kshipper

Posts: 279   +49
TechSpot Elite
I have used O&O App buster (You can Google that) a recommendation of Steve Gibson of GRC (makers of SpinRite) and I have used it a few times to remove tons of useless Microsoft hidden stuff.

My only concern is how these changes will interact with future Microsoft updates that assume all that stuff is there and working.
 
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duckofdeath

Posts: 55   +38
I'm one of those crazy people that actually appreciates that many Windows 7 menus still persist throughout Windows 10. They're information-dense, and they have lots of settings and toggles within easy reach. The Windows 10 menus, by contrast, are heavily simplified and not nearly as powerful or efficient for me.
It's the same computer, screen, operating system. It wouldn't be complicated to streamline the UI to apply to everything. It's jarring to have two different control panels with different features in the same operating system.
 

Irata

Posts: 991   +1,469
TechSpot Elite
Windows 8 was not a great desktop OS. But if you had a Surface device with no keyboard, it actually worked quite well for touchscreen. And now we have Windows 10, which in my opinion, has lost all usability with touchscreens when they ditched the mobile / phone code.
What I found most upsetting was the start buttons removal. Still have a laptop on Win 8.1 - the „bring start back“ extension made the OS useable but accidentally switching to tablet mode is annoying. Still, with a few fixes it really wasn‘t bad.

The problem was that MS messed up the user experience for regular users to make it better for niche cases.
 

Polycount

Posts: 2,696   +566
Staff member
It's the same computer, screen, operating system. It wouldn't be complicated to streamline the UI to apply to everything. It's jarring to have two different control panels with different features in the same operating system.
I'd rather be jarred than deal with an oversimplified UI, but I know I'm in the minority.
 

Polycount

Posts: 2,696   +566
Staff member
I don't know what part of what I wrote is unclear?
Apparently all of it, because it sounded like you were saying they should push forward with the Windows 10 uniformity. Which, from a design perspective, is the correct move.

I was saying I'll be sad to see the old W7-style menus go regardless of how correct it is, because even if they are jarring/inconsistent, I prefer their style and layout to that of their W10 counterparts.

Hopefully that clears up any confusion here.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 55   +38
Hopefully that clears up any confusion here.
At no point did I write they should "oversimplify" anything. I made it clear I think they should clean up the mess, that is, two completely incompatible control panels to handle one computer. I also said, it wouldn't be a problem if they'd put some effort into it, as the only thing needed is to make all the old stuff render with the "new" design.
It just comes across as lazy and I'm writing this as I have very little hope that another UI update will fix this. Worst case scenario, we will be working with three different control panels for one computer next year.
Microsoft is the biggest operating systems and software company in the world. Yet, they often come across as a loosely related bunch of hobbyists submitting personal ideas to some sort of developer community. This Windows 8 foray have been going on for a decade now, and it's still only halfway done, with biannual updates that adds little and fixes less.
 
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