Get ready, Windows fans: Microsoft will host a livestream that promises to show us "what's next for Windows" at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT on June 24.
That's a pretty big deal, as Windows 10 launched almost six years ago during the summer of 2015. That's a good run for a numbered version of Windows, most of which have lasted 2 to 4 years before seeing a significant update.
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But as solid as Windows 10 has proven itself to be, it still has plenty of problems, and at Microsoft's Build developer conference last week, CEO Satya Nadella hinted at some big changes coming to the ever-popular operating system.
"Soon we will share one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade to unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators," Nadella said. "I've been self-hosting it over the past several months and I'm incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows.
"Our promise to you is this: We will create more opportunity for every Windows developer today and welcome every creator who is looking for the most innovative, new, open platform to build and distribute and monetize applications. We look forward to sharing more very soon."
What to expect from the "next generation of Windows"
Nadella's comments make it clear that Microsoft is focused on overhauling the way developers make money on the Microsoft Store, presumably to entice more devs to sell their wares in Microsoft's marketplace.
As it stands, developers are shackled by the fact that they can only sell games and apps in the Microsoft Store if those products are built as UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps. Going forward, we expect Microsoft to open up its storefront and allow devs to sell more types of apps on the platform, which could make it a more appealing place for customers to download their favorite games and tools.
Microsoft has also said that it will cut its commission on Microsoft Store sales from 20% down to 12% by August, bringing it in line with the 12% commission Fortnite maker Epic Games takes on sales of games through its downloadable Epic Games Store. Microsoft will also give companies the option of opting out of Microsoft's payment system altogether in favor of using their own, thus avoiding having to pay Microsoft a commission, which could entice many more software companies to distribute their products on the Microsoft Store.
In addition to a Microsoft Store overhaul, we expect the next edition of Windows will also revamp the look and feel of the aging operating system. You might remember that Microsoft already teased a new version of Windows: Windows 10X, a simpler-looking Windows designed for tablets and low-powered PCs that was unveiled in 2019 alongside the now-mothballed Surface Neo dual-screen PC.
Windows 10X was marketed as — stop me if you've heard this one before — a Windows redesigned for touch interfaces. Microsoft was reportedly working on it for some time, but the project hit delays, and Microsoft received feedback that customers would prefer to see the new features rolled into a core Windows version rather than broken out into a separate Windows 10X product.
Microsoft hasn't publicly confirmed that, but it makes a lot of sense. We expect to see at least some of the touch-friendly features planned for Windows 10X unveiled at Microsoft's Windows event later this month.
We also expect the look and feel of Windows get a makeover, as Microsoft has been rolling out test builds of Windows for some time that include overhauled file and folder icons. These visual changes are presumably part of Microsoft's "Sun Valley" update to Windows, which (according to leaks) will be a sweeping visual overhaul to the operating system due out later this year.
Of course, we won't know for sure what Windows news Microsoft is announcing or how accurate these reports are until the livestream kicks off 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, June 24. Stay tuned for more details, or watch the event live over on Microsoft's website.
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Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.