What to expect from the Windows 11 event on Thursday

What to expect from the Windows 11 event on Thursday

Microsoft is holding a big livestream event on Thursday to reveal “what’s next for Windows”—except that, er, Windows 11 has already leaked onto the internet. Thanks to those leaks we have a good idea of what Windows 11 looks like, but there’s still a lot for Microsoft to talk about on Thursday.

The event begins on June 24 at 8 am PT. Here’s what to expect based on the leaks and what Microsoft has said about the future of Windows up to now.

Is Windows 11 just a new name slapped on a bigger-than-average update to Windows 10? Will it be free or cost money to upgrade? Will Outlook finally stop telling me my account “requires attention” even though there’s nothing wrong with it?

As for what it’ll cost, it’s hard to see Microsoft charging upfront for a new version of Windows—at least to existing Windows 10 users. It wants to keep everyone on its platform, and making WIndows free is the best way to do that. Enterprise customers may have to pay for Windows 11, but it would be surprising if most users do.

According to the leaks, we can expect a new search UI built into the taskbar, the return of widgets, and an upgrade to the snap feature that lets you attach windows to a side or corner of the screen with a nice visual interface. Much of the OS will still be the same, but some things are gone, like the Start menu’s live tiles (which always felt like a bit of a pointless holdover from Windows 8, anyway).

It also looks like Windows 11 will have a new icon set and curved edges on windows like the file explorer. Flat, solid color UI design has been around for a decade or so, which means it’s about time to go back to rounded edges and transparency, right? Finally, Windows Vista makes its glorious comeback!

Microsoft will surely pitch Windows 11 as an exciting, substantial upgrade for Windows, but with all the features and reliability you expect from Windows 10. And hey, sometimes new things are exciting! Not many people pay attention to Windows 10’s seasonal updates, but 11 will generate a lot of buzz. As with game sequels, sticking a big new number on counts for something.

Underneath the UI changes, though, Windows 11 seems likely to be largely the same OS we’ve been using for the last few years. It’s an evolution of Windows 10, not a dramatic departure built on entirely fresh code. That approach wouldn’t make much sense, anyway—Windows 10 is widely used and isn’t butting up against any major security or performance issues that necessitated past Windows releases like XP and 7.

Microsoft has focused on making the Xbox app a better gaming destination than the Microsoft Store, and it’s starting to spin up its cloud streaming service for PCs, too. This likely won’t be a focus for the event, but we may see a new version of the Xbox app or at least see how Windows 11 continues to build on the gaming features Microsoft has worked on in the last few years. The current developer builds of Windows 10 support Auto HDR, for example, a feature brought over from the Xbox. That might earn a little stage time. We’ll be following the event on Thursday and covering all the news about Windows 11: UI changes, any new gaming features, and when you’ll actually get to use it.

   

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