Windows 10 is finally getting a makeover from Microsoft. But it’s not just a touch-up; Microsoft is going over every last detail, sanding the molding and getting under the switch plates.
Windows receives visual updates on a regular basis, including recycling bins, Start menu colors, taskbar icons, and other popular elements that PC users see every day changing. However, Microsoft has several less-noticed visual indicators that were in desperate need of an upgrade — as in, haven’t been updated since Windows 95 extreme.
The redesign is part of a big visual update of Windows 10 that will be released in October, with a developer preview available this week. It includes changes to some of its less-used icons to better represent 21st-century technology. CRT displays have been phased out in favour of flat screens, and trackball mice have been replaced by touchscreen mice.
All of Microsoft’s system icons now have the same general look and feel as the rest of the company’s revamped imagery, as first noticed by Windows Latest. Sure, there’s some stuff that’s out of date: Floppy disk icons are still present, but they now appear to be part of Windows 10 rather than the Windows of Bill Clinton’s first name.
Windows 10 is in desperate need of an update: It has remained largely unchanged since its release in 2015, except for twice-yearly tweaks. For any PC operating system, six years is a long time, and a revolution is coming to personal computers that will place Windows’ position as the dominant productivity operating system in jeopardy.
The twice-yearly Windows updates from Microsoft normally provide a few useful new features (a new screenshot tool, a cleaner Start Menu, etc.). This year’s spring update will be another of those small tweaks that polish the game and fixes bugs.
The fall update, however, will bring a full-scale Windows 10 overhaul codenamed “Sun Valley,” which will include a brand-new Start Menu, File Explorer, Action Center, and taskbar. Tablet users will also get a new virtual keyboard with improved access to emojis, according to reports. Microsoft is also expected to give all Windows 10 elements a makeover to fit all of the operating system’s recently tweaked elements in a cohesive style — including the latest icons Microsoft previewed this week.
The majority of Windows’ recent changes have been targeted at specific markets, such as gamers and business customers. However, the PC has resurfaced as a market staple, thanks to the work-from-home age ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic, which has made productivity hip once more. Microsoft wants to make sure that its new daily customers are having a good time with their computers.
Microsoft is also attempting to react to Apple’s latest M1 chip, which is basically a custom-built smartphone microprocessor for Macs, signalling a significant shift in the PC industry.
Apple’s latest Mac OS Big Sur takes advantage of the new chip by incorporating features that users are familiar with on their iPhones and iPads. The convergence of smartphones, tablets and PCs is underway.
The Surface Pro X, Microsoft’s hybrid computer, runs on a chip with a similar architecture to Apple’s (AAPL) M1. This year, Microsoft will release Windows 10X, an operating system built from the ground up for nontraditional devices (think foldable, tablets, and other computers that don’t look like conventional laptops or desktops).
This new type of chip has the potential to shake up the PC landscape, prompting Microsoft to reinvent Windows for new types of computers it hasn’t yet imagined. But it’s past time for Windows 10 to get a big update.
Still, Microsoft’s (MSFT) reputation for repairing operating systems that aren’t broken isn’t exactly stellar. Too much depends on Microsoft’s ability to make the next version of Windows 10 something that hundreds of millions of users would want to keep using.