"Windows is BACK": Microsoft job listing solicits applications for radical Windows 10 21H1 Sun Valley visual makeover, new battery meter and other changes already in Insider builds
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Back in March last year, Windows Devices and Experiences chief Panos Panay shared a video on Instagram celebrating 1 billion installations of Windows 10. The video indicated an impeding user interface (UI) change to the OS to make it more in tune with modern times. A job listing for a "visual rejuvenation of Windows experiences" that was first posted back in October 2020 seems to confirm that concepts in Panay's video may soon be a reality.
Microsoft offers two feature updates for Windows 10 each year. Anticipation is high on the UI overhaul codenamed Sun Valley that is expected to hit Windows 10 "Cobalt" 21H2. Sun Valley is significant because Windows 10's basic UI elements have been relatively stagnant since its debut in 2015 with the exception of changes such as new Action Center functionality, system-wide (sort of) dark mode, and glimpses of Fluent Design in inbox apps such as Calculator, Alarms & Clock, Microsoft Edge, and other app icons.
The said job listing (description now changed) reads,
On this team, you’ll work with our partners to orchestrate and 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."
According to a Windows Central report, Sun Valley will see Microsoft showing a renewed focus on Windows 10 with the project being described as "reinvigorating" and modernizing the Windows desktop experience to keep up with customer expectation in a world driven by other modern and lightweight platforms."
While it is still early to speculate, Sun Valley can be expected to bring a revamped Start Menu and Action Center based on what Microsoft is developing with Windows 10X. New touch experiences for tablet users, a new emoji picker, rounded corners, updated Taskbar, and a much requested modern File Explorer are also on the cards.
In related news, several new visual changes are already being reported in the Settings app in Insider builds. These include:
- Battery usage graphs
- Camera configuration settings in the Settings app
- App archival for unused apps: App data will be preserved and app will be updated to full version on next use.
- Taskbar settings in the Settings app
- Storage cleanup recommendations, and more.
Microsoft is expected to seed Windows 10 21H2 Sun Valley with minor improvements by end of February. Over time, the new visual changes would start to appear in subsequent Insider Builds, and it should be largely feature complete and signed off for Release to Manufacture (RTM) some time in Summer 2021. Rollout for regular users will then commence during Fall.