This would be a good time to start paying attention to the pop-up notifications in the bottom-right of your laptop screen. There’s yet another major Microsoft Windows 10 update on the horizon, and by the sounds of it, it’s going to be a big one. If you’re someone who works from home, works through the night, or generally spends a lot of time in front of your laptop screen, you’re going to have to find time to schedule it in. The size of the download is likely to be enormous. This has been described in some circles as “the biggest Windows update in a decade” and will introduce several major changes.
If you follow Windows news, you might have heard about this update some time ago under the codename “Sun Valley.” Because we know about the codename, we also know a little bit of information about what it’s expected to contain and what differences it’s likely to make to the user experience. We’re going to take an “at a glance” look at all of them in this article. We haven’t seen the finished product yet, so we can’t promise that everything we discuss will be in it, but at this point, we think it’s more likely than not that the things we’re about to discuss will end up being part of the product.
A New File Explorer
The most important aspects of the upgrade (or update, depending on how you look at it) are likely to be those that concern the OS’s aesthetics and user interface. We’ve heard there will be big changes to the Start menu, Taskbar, and File Explorer. We have nasty concerns about the first two, but we’re less worried about the latter.
Windows has tried to do away with the old Start button in the past, only to bring it back after complaints by angry users. When Microsoft made the decision, it was part of a process that was supposed to make Windows easier to use for those using touchscreen devices. It was inspired – at least in part – by online slots websites. They occupy only a niche area of the internet, but they’ve proven to be light years ahead of everyone else regarding optimising for touch screens. If you were to load a modern online slots site such as Rose Slots for New Zealand Players on your phone, laptop, and tablet, you’d find it was perfectly formatted for each device. That’s because the design is streamlined and adaptable. That’s the approach that Microsoft was going for, forgetting that many of its (almost) two billion Windows users don’t use touchscreen devices. Online slots players don’t need a Start button to interact with their preferred websites, but Windows is a little more complex than your average slots site and needs the Start menu for ease of access. If Microsoft has decided to try to scrap it again, expect complaints.
We also struggle to imagine what might have been done with Taskbar or what changes could be made that would improve it. Taskbar seems to be perfectly suited to the job it does, and it’s convenient. File Explorer, on the other hand, is ancient. It’s barely changed since Windows 1998 and could use an overhaul. We just hope that Microsoft doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to revamping the UI.
Dual Screen Setbacks
At one point, Microsoft was working on a specific version of Windows 10X (the current version of Windows 10) for dual-screen devices like the Surface Duo. They’re not doing so anymore. Rather than introducing a specific version of Windows for these devices, the company is making the standard version of Windows more adaptable. Put simply, you shouldn’t need a specific version of Windows for these devices anymore because the regular version of Windows is now smart enough to realise it’s running on a dual-screen device and behave accordingly.
A Blast From The Past
One of the most surprising rumours we’ve heard is that Microsoft might be bringing back the “Charms” sidebar from Windows 8. If you’ve never heard of that before, it’s probably because you never had Windows 8, which is true of millions of people. Those who did have it will recall that it was a useful feature that put several of your most commonly-used “Windows buttons” in the same place. That means one-click access to the Start menu, control panel, task manager and several other handy options. This feature will apparently be referred to as a widget rather than the existing “Charms bar” moniker, but its function will be the same.
A Better Deal For App Makers
Microsoft no longer insists on building every app that works with Windows. It’s been years since they changed their attitude on that front. Instead, the company wants to hear from anybody and everybody who might have a great app idea. The company promises to “create more opportunities” for app creators and provide a new platform for both building and making money from apps. What this means in real terms is yet to be seen, but this is a claim that’s come from the company itself. Perhaps this is yet another reason for Apple to worry about the long term viability of its App Store model.
A Familiar Name
Whatever does or doesn’t come with the latest version of Windows, it will still be called “Windows 10.” It probably won’t be called “Windows 10X” anymore – in fact, we’re not sure what the new suffix will be – but it won’t be Windows 11. Microsoft doesn’t really “do” new versions of Windows anymore. The company confirmed as long ago as 2015 that Windows 10 is the product’s “final form” and will be supported by large-scale updates and overhauls in the future rather than eventually being replaced by a new standalone version of the same product. Never again will we run the risk of a disaster like Windows Vista. Whenever and however this new version of Windows 10 appears, it will still be Windows 10.
When the “Sun Valley” changes were first rumoured in 2020, they were slated for the second half of 2021. We’ve now entered the second half of the year, and most industry analysts say they’ll appear sooner rather than later. Keep your eyes on the notifications icon – change is coming!