Microsoft is said to be working on a visual overhaul for Windows 10 that’s set for release this October/November. The update is internally known as the Sun Valley, also known as ‘version 21H2’, will introduce a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows,” including a new interface for Start Menu, significant improvements for Explorer, and more.
Microsoft is constantly testing out new UI features for Windows 10, and on apps like Alarms & Clock, we’ve been seeing quite a few different adjustments as of late. One of the most notable alterations appears to be the introduction of rounded corners, but it looks like the update will also include a new “floating” design.
Reports have suggested that Microsoft is working on a floating Start Menu, which will appear visually separated from the taskbar. So far, we’ve only seen Windows 10’s rumoured Sun Valley design in unofficial mockups.
Today, we’re getting our first look at the actual code in the preview builds, which confirms that the leaks were accurate.
The new UI for taskbar jumplist (right-click menu) places menus within a floating box. The feature is currently hidden behind the experimental flag “JumpListRestyledAcrylic”, which can be activated if you debug the ShellExperienceHost.exe using Visual Studio and set “JumpListRestyledAcrylic” to visible.
Instead of being attached to the taskbar, right-click menu for pinned/open apps, flyouts, etc will now float above the taskbar, leaving a visible gap. The same floating design is also coming to Action Center, Clock flyout, Volume flyout, and WiFi flyout. However, at the moment, the design is only live for the jumplist menu.
Microsoft is still developing the floating UI feature and it currently works partially, as shown in the below GIF.
The floating menus are something we’ve already seen in preview builds of Windows 10X and other operating systems like macOS.
These overhauls will be part of the Sun Valley update and the final version will not have the borders. You can expect them to look and work better than the current implementation.
At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any options to turn off the floating interface in Windows 10. However, the default functionality of core components won’t be radically different from the current version and it shouldn’t bother most people. For enthusiasts, Microsoft is believed to be working on bigger changes, including a new optional Start Menu.
According to reports, Microsoft is set to hold a ‘What’s new for Windows’ event in May. This special event could also be a session at the big Build 2021 conference, which is set to begin in the last week of May.
Previous reports have suggested that Windows 10 Sun Valley update will be finalized in May and begin rolling out to consumers in October or November.
Before Sun Valley launch, Windows 10 is expected to get version 21H1 “Spring 2021” update with quality improvements.