Microsoft has released details of a small change to its desktop operating system that could change the new look and feel of Windows 10. It’s no secret that Microsoft is seriously looking to turn the design of Windows 10 on its head, which has been largely the same since it was launched in 2015.
In (almost) the same period of time, Apple redesigned its Mac operating system twice – once with a minimalist user interface inspired by iOS 7 at the end of 2014, and again last year with the introduction of a new “neumorphic” design language. In other words, Windows 10 is starting to look a bit boring and a redesign is probably overdue.
The Windows 10 modernization is led by the Windows Devices and Experiences team, led by Chief Product Officer Panos Panay, who took over the business unit back in February. Panos Panay helped develop Microsoft’s Surface line of devices, which are now widely recognized for their outstanding industrial design, clever hardware features, and innovative form factors. Microsoft pioneered the tablet cum computer device, which Apple is now switching to with its iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard accessories.
As you’d expect given Panos Panay’s résumé, the new software appearance is expected to better tie the software to Microsoft’s hardware design.
The redesign is widely used to create a lot more transparency and to soften the sharp edges around every window and menu currently found in Windows 10. The start menu has been completely redesigned and is much more colorful. In Windows 10X, the new Start menu is accessed from the center of the taskbar – not in the lower left corner like in any other version of Windows. However, it is unclear whether the main variant of Windows 10 will copy this design tweak.
Fluid animation is expected to appear throughout the operating system, and Microsoft should focus on consistency. As it stands, it’s not uncommon to stumble upon a menu or icon that looks like a survivor from the Windows 95 era – unchanged in an obscure system menu that no one thought of changing.
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All of that will be a thing of the past. As part of this major overhaul, Microsoft released a number of new icons for the redesigned operating system.
These new icons, used to populate menus, apps, and drop-down lists in the operating system, Microsoft’s own apps, and third-party software, indicate the rounded and simplified look that Windows 10 will adopt in the future, months. Microsoft has already announced what the system tray widget will look like with the new icons.
This suggests how we can expect all parts of the operating system, even a seldom-visited menu for software drivers, to be updated and look a little more modern.
The new icons have already appeared in the latest beta version of Windows 10, which is now available to early testers. Rumor has it that the entire redesign, codenamed Sun Valley since the Redmond-based company, is targeting a launch date in late 2021.
Microsoft usually releases two feature-rich updates for Windows 10 each year (these differ from the regular bug patches and stability improvements). While the first of these two blockbuster updates, which supposedly arrives in a few weeks’ time, is likely a little flawed, the second could land that brand new look on your desktop or laptop.