Since Panos Panay took over the reins of Windows 10, the same mantra has been transferred from Microsoft: “We want people to stop using Windows because they need it, we want them to like it and we want to use it. ” With this goal in mind, the Sun Valley Project was born, which will come to fruition in the Windows 10 21H2 update, which is expected to arrive in October of this year.
Sun Valley’s goal is to modernize and eliminate inconsistencies in the design of Windows 10. In this way, we will see updates in the design of the Start menu, Action Center and even changes in the design. ‘File Explorer … Sun Valley is an effort in bringing Windows closer to consumers after many years focused primarily on business.
Most of the innovations introduced by Windows 10 21H2 (Sun Valley) come from Windows 10X, the modern, lightweight operating system that Microsoft intended to launch this year and which ultimately crippled indefinitely. It doesn’t seem at all clear that Windows 10X will ever see the light of day but we can confirm that much of it will “live” in Windows that we all know after this update.
Better experience on tablets and convertibles
One of the main new features included in Sun Valley is a new Windows 10 touchscreen keyboard experience. Microsoft has been working on redesigning this element with an interface based on Fluent Design, with translucent backgrounds and rounded edges.
While the keyboard as such doesn’t include many more new features, apart from animations with greater fluidity and faster response, it will be integrated with the emoticon panel and clipboard. The goal is to have a modern experience that allows us to express ourselves with more possibilities.
Also, as we have been able to know, Windows 10 21H2 will include touch gestures to open and close apps, go back to start and more. These are probably the same gestures as Windows 10X.
In addition, Microsoft will redesign File Explorer and other “old” parts of the Windows 10 interface to adapt them to the times and make them more “user-friendly” to the touch. Those of Redmond want this “new Windows” to be brilliant as a desktop operating system but without neglecting both the touch part as in recent years (since the transition to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1).
Renewal of pre-installed applications thanks to Sun Valley
The preinstalled applications, such as Alarms & Clock, Photos, Music… will undergo complete interface renovations and design modernizations. For this, Microsoft will use an evolution of Fluent Design thanks to WinUI 2.6. As a result, Windows 10 and its apps will follow the same line when using GUIs. In addition, the vast majority can be uninstalled.
The latest example is the Alarms and Clock application, which has completely revamped its interface and we now have it available for download. The software has new controls that improve the keyboard and mouse experience. There are also new buttons in which the rounded edges stand out.
In addition, the current Microsoft Store will be replaced by a new Store that is faster, smoother, more modern and more open than ever. Microsoft will allow developers to download unpackaged Win32 applications in .exe and .msi formats. In addition, developers who wish can use their own CDNs. Microsoft definitely takes the step towards the total opening of its application store and collects the main requests from developers.
New icons that follow the lines of Fluent Design
Microsoft is fully committed to harmonizing the design of Windows 10 and iconography is one of the greatest needs. Windows 10 features icons from Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and the early years of Windows 10. Complete chaos. The people of Redmond are determined to end this.
File Explorer will be one of those apps that gets a major overhaul and icons are one of them. As we can see in the image, the current classic icons have been replaced with more modern and colorful icons based on the design lines of Fluent Design. In addition, new icons have been introduced in the Control Panel and old icons in other parts of the operating system have been redesigned.
As if that weren’t enough, there are rumors that Microsoft may have also redesigned icons of great importance such as File Explorer, Search, and even Windows. In the latter case, some point out that it could stop being monochrome to adapt to a more Fluent style and even use the shape of Microsoft’s own logo.
Improved animations and smoother flow in Windows 10
One of the biggest complaints from Windows 10 users has to do with the animations. The current animations are mostly inherited from Windows 8 and are somewhat clunky. In addition, devices with integrated graphics suffer during reproduction, which spoils the user experience.
Microsoft has started testing the first upcoming animation with Sun Valley. It is a kind of zoom that increases the feeling of depth by bringing the windows closer to the user when they are opened. In addition, it reduces the feeling of loading time when opening certain apps.
However, we have no information on what animations will eventually be included in Windows 10 21H2, although all sources point to the direction in which they will feel much smoother and smoother than current ones.
Redesigned Start menu, taskbar and activity center
The start menu will see its renewed design, adapting to the latest lines presented by Microsoft. Already in 20H2 we received a start menu that eliminates colors, leaving only one protagonist color. Continuing with what we’ve seen in the new alarm app, it looks like Microsoft will embrace the rounded edges.
From what Zac Bowden was able to share, the new start menu will be floating and it will be separate from the taskbar, with windows and rounded tiles following that track. The changes will be very subtle, but it certainly looks like they’re looking to deliver the same experience across different apps.
Additionally, Bowden himself reported via Twitter that Microsoft is also working on a drastically different start menu than the current one and we could use the one shared in this image as well. Presumably this would be a start menu that would end tiles and stop having a hamburger menu to switch to locating file explorer shortcuts, shutdown options, and settings in the lower menu area. . himself. Additionally, there would be an “All apps” button in the upper right corner. This would be the default Start menu for the new Windows.
Concept of the new Windows 10 Start menu (unofficial)
The taskbar will also change completely. Microsoft will bring the Windows 10X taskbar, made with modern code and capable of delivering better performance, better animations and effects, and more possibilities. We can probably choose between three sizes (like in Windows 10X) and the icons will be located in the center, where the new Start menu will also open.
As for the activity center, that will change completely and we will have practically the same as we can find in Windows 10X. In this new panel we will have quick actions, music control and a separate area for notifications.
Windows Search will also change and we will no longer have a search bar by default. Instead, we’ll have a new magnifying glass icon. The search interface will be more modern and will integrate with the design of the rest of the operating system.
In addition to cosmetic changes, Sun Valley marks the addition of new features that seek to improve our productivity and keep us in the same workflow. An example of this is the new News & Interests option which gives us current news and weather directly from the taskbar.
News & Interests has already reached current versions of Windows 10, so you won’t have to wait for Sun Valley to get it. However, rumors suggest that this feature could be integrated in a different way in Windows 10 21H2. We will have to be vigilant.
In addition to this feature, we will see a new battery usage graph that will show which apps are consuming the most, divided by hours. Also, it will offer a number of options to prevent it from happening with the same frequency.
Another function that will be included in the Settings section is the information on the health of the battery, which will allow us to take better care of our devices. This is already included by Apple in its iPhone and it is a feature much appreciated by the users.
Another new thing that will probably come with Sun Valley will be a dashboard that will offer us everything that has to do with our Microsoft account. Specifically, we can see our upcoming events, office documents, emails, pending tasks, and other important news. This feature is likely not included separately, but its function is partially provided by the new Start menu.
Consistency will arrive in Windows 10 at the end of 2021
All windows will leave the corners and end up with rounded edges. Finally, Microsoft will improve the use of the dark theme and extend it to more sections of the operating system. With this, you will get a consistent design in all its components, new and old.
Sun Valley will arrive at the completion of development for the Cobalt branch of Windows 10. Manufacturers will begin receiving this release in the second half of 2021, when it will begin testing in form on the Insider Dev Channel. With which we will begin to receive the update at the end of the year.
If the rumors are true, and it looks like they are, Microsoft will have a big event in June to showcase this “new Windows”. Additionally, the changes are said to be of such depth that Microsoft might christen Windows 10 21H2 as Windows 11 or something similar.