Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corp. speaks at Windows 10 Devices event in New York on October 6, 2015. Microsoft Corp. showcased its very first laptop, three Lumia phones and a Surface Pro 4 tablet, the first indication of the company’s revamped hardware strategy three months after it announced it would scale back plans to make its own smartphones.
John Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Last month, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella teased “one of the most important Windows updates of the past decade,” and the company plans to release it to the public on Thursday.
Refreshing the 35-year-old operating system may result in additional revenue growth for the world’s second-most valued public company, behind Apple. Over time, the new Windows will likely be widely adopted as millions of consumers and office workers upgrade from Windows 10, the best PC operating system.
Over the past few days, early adopters have been able to give people an idea of ââwhat’s to come, thanks to a leak of a next-gen version of Windows that appeared online last week. The operating system appeared to be part of an incomplete first version, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The leaked version contains a variety of changes, many of which could be outlined by Microsoft at its virtual event on Thursday. Here’s a rundown of what to expect:
If the next version of Windows looks like the leaked version, it will borrow parts of the standby Windows 10X, which was originally designed to run on dual-screen PCs, for an operating system called Windows 11. Just as Windows 10X placed the Start button and open programs icons in the center of the taskbar at the bottom of the screen instead of the left side, Windows 11 does too.
The version incorporates a new Windows icon with four squares of equal size, unlike the icon used for Windows 8 and Windows 10 with window panes that widen from left to right. Individual app windows retain rounded corners, much like those of Apple’s macOS, instead of the sharp corners of Windows 10.
The animations people see when opening and closing windows have changed, and the Start menu displays apps and files in a similar way to the Windows 10X approach. The sounds for notifications and other events have also been redesigned.
The leaked version came with some new ways for users to personalize their PCs.
Pressing new buttons could cause application windows to line up with predefined on-screen configurations. And the Settings app included an option to allow the operating system to “remember window locations based on monitor connection.” This could alleviate an issue that users experienced with Windows failing to revert apps to their previous configuration when users were using multiple displays with their computers.
Computers with touch screens exhibited a new setting called Wake on Touch – presumably a Windows equivalent of the feature on some mobile devices that allows users to quickly turn on the screen by repeatedly tapping the screen.
A performance boost
Some of the people who installed the leaked version of Windows 11 ran tests and found the operating system to perform faster than the latest version of Windows 10, which itself was advertised as “fast and familiar.” when it was released in 2015.
The new version performed better than Windows 10 in various comparisons on a Samsung PC running an Intel “Lakefield” chip, according to a report from Hot Hardware.
A revamped store
Nadella said last month that the Windows update will benefit developers. Microsoft’s App Store is a place where developers can showcase their apps to end users in Windows. The company already announced in April that it would reduce the percentage of revenue it reserves from app store purchases, and Windows 11 could build on that.
Microsoft has taken steps to allow developers to use third-party commerce systems for apps they want to list in the Store, and the company wants to make room for classic Win32 apps in the Store without requiring software changes, Windows Central reported in April.
Finally, there might be some unexpected announcements. Microsoft employee Miguel de Icaza said on Twitter on Tuesday that the company would be talking about something he has spent years lobbying for. De Icaza joined Microsoft in 2016 as part of its acquisition of Xamarin, which allows software developers to build mobile apps for multiple platforms, including Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, using the language of Microsoft’s C # programming.
Microsoft could also take advantage of the event to discuss structural changes to the Windows business.
âWe will listen carefully to any hint that Microsoft may use this launch to accelerate the transition of Windows revisions to a subscription / pricing model, through a ‘Windows-as-a-Service’ offering or through a stronger M365 push ( which bundles Office 365, Windows 10 and EMS) and whether an OS / desktop upgrade could boost adoption among enterprise teams, âanalysts at UBS wrote on Monday, which has a rating of d purchase on Microsoft shares.
CNBC will cover the event as it unfolds starting at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday.
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