When Microsoft said that it was going to announce the next version of Windows on June 24, it was only a matter of time before the leaks started coming. The first Windows 11 build leaked today, first offering up some screenshots on Baidu. Now, the full build is here.
First of all, we should be clear that this is very much a new version of Windows 10. It has a big visual redesign, but under the hood, this is the same OS. Microsoft wanted to build excitement around it, so that’s why we’re getting the new branding. Because of this, the first thing you’ll see when booting up this leaked build is a very familiar out-of-box experience.
Indeed, all of the different Windows 11 versions are the same as they were for Windows 10, including Home, Pro, Enterprise, and more. Once you get past that part where you choose your edition, decide how to partition your drive, and it actually installs the bits, that’s where the OOBE takes a left turn from what’s familiar.
The questions are the same, and at this point, you might have realized that this looks a lot like Windows 10X. That’s because it is. Windows 10X promised a lot of under-the-hood changes, such as running apps in containers so they couldn’t access the rest of the file system. That’s not happening here.
What’s happening here is that Microsoft is pretty much bringing over the Windows 10X shell on top of Windows 10, and calling it Windows 11.
You also may have spotted a new Windows logo, which is a blue Microsoft logo. It’s replacing the trapezoidal logo that we had before and flattening it out into a square. This is likely a big part of the Redmond firm’s move to make things more Microsoft-branded instead of Windows-branded. We’ve seen various references to Microsoft Server in Windows Server.
Another thing that you’ll surely notice, and it’s a big part of the Sun Valley design refresh, is rounded corners. While Microsoft has included sharp corners since the days of Windows 8, it’s finally scaling that back.
The Start Menu is exactly what you’d expect. The taskbar is centered, and if it wasn’t for the new rectangular logo, you’d absolutely think that this screenshot was fresh out of Windows 10X. But the Windows 11 logo gives it away.
Windows Search is getting an entirely new look here. This seems to be a trend with the new Sun Valley UX, with these floating, centered fly-outs like this. As you can see from the image, you can filter down results by apps, documents, settings, and more.
If you take a look at the File Explorer, there are no surprises there. Sure, coming from Windows 10, all of the icons look visually different. All of that is already in preview though. If you’re a Windows Insider on the Dev channel, you’ve seen the new Windows 11 icons.
Nothing is changing in the Microsoft Edge browser. It’s worth noting that as far as apps go, nothing is really changing. These things still exist across Windows 11 and Windows 10, and in the case of Edge, older versions too. This is independent of the OS.
Settings doesn’t seem to have changed either, despite some earlier leaks. This was the same as it is in Windows 10 and was in Windows 10X leaks. It’s also possible that Microsoft may update this before it goes public. The same goes for other inbox apps.
There are some new settings though. There are a bunch of customization options for the taskbar, including an option to align the taskbar, and as we continue to look through this build, we’re sure to find more.
Virtual desktops are in the same place, but this might be a good time to mention that there’s a new stock wallpaper. The one you’re seeing is for light theme, but there’s another one that has a dark background. There are several wallpapers like this, and one thing you won’t find is something with a Windows logo with light shining through it, like we saw with the Windows 10 hero image.
There’s a new option right next to that called widgets. This is exactly the same as it is on macOS, and it’s presumably taking the place of Live Tiles. Live Tiles tried to be a widget and a shortcut all at once. Now, those things are being separated like they are on every other operating system. The widgets look differently in light and dark modes.
Here are some more examples of what Windows 11 looks like in dark mode. It’s pretty, and also what you’d expect.
At first glance, the keyboard looks the same. But as was teased a lot in Windows 10X, there’s a bar above it that you can open to insert GIFs, emojis, and more. Again, Windows 11 really comes down to putting the Windows 10X shell on top of Windows 10.
You’ll be able to unpin things like Task View and Windows Search from the taskbar. That means that you won’t have to just hide them anymore.
Another thing that’s new is that you can easily set different split view options, right from the maximize button in any app. You can choose split view, or views with three or four apps on the screen at once. It makes things a lot easier than the standard side-by-side view that we get now.
Besides that, there’s not a whole lot else to show. Windows 11 is set to ship later on this year, but we’re just a week away from Microsoft’s big announcement.