Eagle-eyed Windows enthusiasts watching Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote at the recent Microsoft Ignite conference were in for a surprise. An otherwise mundane announcement of new Teams functionality suddenly cut to a version of Windows slightly different from the one we’re used to, as spotted on Twitter and brought to our attention by Windows Central.
The mystery operating system appears briefly at around 42:42 in this keynote video, in the section about Microsoft Teams Immersive Meeting Experiences for Meta Quest. While broadly similar to Windows 11, it features a floating taskbar unlike any you can create in the vanilla OS. Additional features include a floating island-like area at the top of the screen and battery, date, and weather information in the top corners.
Speculation abounds. What the Windows overlords briefly showed us could be anything from a glimpse at an internal development version of Windows, an error that saw the video maker forget to turn off third-party UI mods, a mock-up that doesn't exist outside Microsoft Designer, or a weird Easter egg to see who's paying attention. It's not even clear whether we're looking at a desktop or mobile version of the OS, though the battery meter suggests it's a portable machine. The handwritten look of some of the displayed text may also point toward pen input, such as that on a Surface, but the cables visible at the bottom of the frame suggest a desktop screen.
If this is the future of Windows - Windows 12, aka Next Valley - we're looking at, then its UI designers are taking inspiration from macOS, which converted its shelf-like dock into a floating flat area several versions ago, or the Gnome 43 desktop used in Linux, in which you can set the Favorites bar to float at the bottom of the screen even though it's not the default. The icons in the bar are identical to those in current versions of Windows.
Next Valley, expected in 2024, will be the second major release since Windows 10 became the 'last version of Windows' in 2015. Nothing is known about it outside Microsoft's locked vaults, apart from the code name. However, Windows Central quotes 'sources' that the new look "is representative of the design goals that Microsoft is hoping to achieve with the next version of Windows".
I don't need or want an Android notification drawer on a desktop computer. It doesn't make any sense, and would actively get in the way. Did you ever see a popup ad in the 90s and think "I want an easier way to get these ads baked directly into my operating system"?
The people designing Windows 11 simply don't use Windows on a daily basis. Someone in midlevel management is trying to tank the product. There's no other explanation for this continued chain of backwards decisions.
Most companies fire people that openly hate their products, so it's weird that Microsoft apparently makes those people design leads and managers on Windows, instead.
I hate the clipped corners on the task bar, but hopefully it can at least be moved to vertical. There's zero chance I keep windows 11 installed on a computer until they restore such an extremely basic functional customization.
win 11 is 10 with a newer ui. That’s basically it
Windows 10 forever means they’re just going to continuously develop this off the same code base
Compared to XP Windows gets uglier by the release (not saying XP was pretty), less stable, and less "mine". Things that could be done in a click now take several clicks. Things are all over the place and this seems an intentional move.
Windows has been on the wrong track for over a decade.
Whoever said "Dumb 'em down and take away control" hit the nail on the head.