Microsoft is planning a major visual makeover for Windows 10 next year. The user interface update project, known internally as ‘Sun Valley’, has been spread over the past two years. Images of an improved Microsoft Groove (which ages it!) Leaked some time ago, but came to nothing. Now it seems that Microsoft has the fourth quarter of 2021 in view for an update that will be part of the broader version of Windows 10 ‘Cobalt’ (21H2).
According Windows Central, we should expect to see a change to the Start Menu (which has just been updated), Action Center, Taskbar and a redesigned UI for File Explorer. Since the side-by-side revolution in Windows 8, there has been no major change in the appearance of Windows, so it certainly should already have what a source describes as “refreshing”. Expect to see more use of WinUI across the Windows Shell and bundled applications, which should mean the end of the last moments of shock when the switch between UWP and Win32 is less than perfect. The challenge for the team will be how to successfully apply Fluent Design to the old Windows desktop, parts of which still look almost identical to how they were 30 years ago.
Given Microsoft’s track record of inflicting change on users who are not ready or not interested, it is refreshing to know that Sun Valley can be, to some extent, completely optional, with a return to the current UI on the cards, where possible. Of course, with any project, let alone one as big as this one, the deadlines may slip, and we may not see Sun Valley until 2022, but Microsoft is apparently eager to launch it next year if possible. In the past, we would already be using Windows 11, so it’s not surprising that Windows 10 is lagging behind in a new painting.