Heads up, Microsoft watchers — images which appear to be leaked screenshots of Windows 11 are circulating, revealing a subtly redesigned UI that puts the Start button literally front and center.
With Microsoft poised to announce what's next for Windows at a press event next Thursday, June 24, odds are very good this is an early look at what to expect from Windows 11 — or whatever Microsoft ends up calling it.
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The leaked images, which first appeared on Baidu (opens in new tab) yesterday (June 15), suggest the next version of Windows is more evolution than revolution. Some of the visible changes include rounded corners on windows and menus, a centering of the Start Button and pinned apps on the taskbar (though you can relocate everything to the left-hand side of the 'bar if you prefer that classic Windows look), and the removal of Live Tiles from the Start menu.
After the images leaked, it became clear they'd come from a leaked build of the next version of Windows, a build which multiple websites have now installed and started tinkering with.
Thanks to the work of sites like The Verge (opens in new tab), we know that this leaked build — which isn't the final version and thus lacks many features — includes a new start-up sound, a new logo, and a new "Widgets" feature that appears to be a revamped version of the Widgets first introduced by Microsoft with Windows Vista.
Unless Microsoft reveals something dramatically different than what's in these leaks, though, it's safe to say the next version of Windows won't be an overhaul of the operating system you're used to. Specifically, the leaked images look like an evolved version of Windows 10X, itself an evolved version of Windows 10 designed specifically for touchscreen devices.
First unveiled in 2019 alongside the Surface Neo, a dual-screen PC product which never launched, Windows 10X was initially pitched as a touch-first version of Windows 10 redesigned from the ground up for better security and usability. It was supposed to launch as a standalone version of Windows alongside the Neo, but reports from earlier this year suggested the OS was first delayed and then rolled into a broader redesign of Microsoft's core Windows product.
At the time, we heard that Microsoft made the call to can 10X because it had reportedly received feedback that customers weren't interested in a new redesigned Windows 10 variant, and would instead prefer to see Windows 10X's most useful features integrated into the core Windows product.
These latest leaks appear to bear that out, revealing a future for Windows that's conservative and focused on maintaining its core design and strengths in a world of tech that's increasingly mobile and touch-friendly. However, we'll have to wait until Microsoft's Windows 11 event at 11 a.m. ET on June 24 to see the final product.