Windows 10 will get a whole new look in 2021

Windows 10
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 10’s desktop interface will get an all-new look that should arrive later in 2021, rumor has it.

Sources who have spoken to Zac Bowden at Windows Central have talked about a major revamp for the UI which is codenamed ‘Sun Valley’, and the current plan is that it should debut with the H2 2021 feature update (which would seem to indicate this won’t be a minor update, unlike the current and previous H2 upgrades for Windows 10).

Pretty much everything on the desktop will be refreshed in this project, or at least all the major elements, although it’s still relatively early in the process, so the grapevine isn’t sure about exactly what will change.

Sources currently believe that we’ll get an overhauled Start menu and Action Center, which would seem like a good bet given that these are critical pieces of the UI puzzle. These are likely to be based on changes being made for Windows 10X, but made more appropriate for desktop PCs – and this is no great surprise. We’ve already seen that Microsoft is using design ideas and interface elements from Windows 10X in vanilla Windows 10.

Exploring new appearances

We can also expect a revamp for File Explorer itself – the windows you use to look at folders and files on the desktop – which, let’s face it, could use some modernization. All of this design work, incidentally, aims to bring a more modern look to Windows 10, and will apparently be a refinement of Fluent Design (but probably still referred to by the same name, which Microsoft has been using for a while now).

Furthermore, Windows 10’s taskbar will be updated with modern code, according to the report, and tablet users will get a more seamless and ‘fluid’ experience along with improved animations.

We can expect minor tweaks throughout the Windows 10 desktop, and further work on dark mode, bringing support for it to legacy areas of the interface, so there’ll be less jarring instances when navigating to older bits of UI when dark mode is switched on. In short, Windows 10 will look more consistent, as well as modern.

Remember, all of this is what’s purportedly currently planned, and the rumor mongers may have it wrong – or indeed Microsoft’s aims may change down the line, anyway. This is supposedly for an update which won’t land for a year yet, after all, so there’s still a long way to go.

Doubtless if ‘Sun Valley’ is now underway, we’ll start seeing some of these changes filtering through to preview versions of Windows 10 perhaps early next year – or maybe even sooner.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).