After Windows 10 20H2 is done and available to users, everyone wants to know what’s next. Based on the latest patterns, it should be Windows 10 21H1 – the “Spring” feature update for Windows 10, followed by an incremental 21H2 “Fall” feature update. But the introduction of Windows 10X will change the Windows landscape in 2021.
While housed in the Azure organization, the Windows development team followed the Azure development plan for the “semester,” with new functionality assigned to either the January to June bucket or the June to December bucket. The bucket from June to December 2020 is code-named “Iron” and the bucket from January to June 2021 is called “Cobalt”. Functions that fall into a certain semester area can be provided in every Windows 10 version. They are not necessarily publication bound when they are “built”. Windows 10 feature updates, which contain features that were mostly created during a specific semester, are known by these code names.
As I previously reported, Microsoft may skip releasing a 21H1 Windows 10 feature update. (Officials won’t approve or disapprove this every time I ask.) Instead, they might just do one feature update next year, the “Cobalt” update in Fall 21H2. As I heard last, Microsoft is planning to release the first iteration of Windows 10X – its simpler and more secure Windows 10 variant, which was originally intended to be rolled out on devices with two screens, but is now set to roll out on new devices first – in the spring of Screen PCs and 2-in-1s.
Today, October 28th, Windows Central reported that the 21H2 Cobalt Windows 10 feature update will not be minor. It will be much bigger than the usual feature update and include a user interface update for a number of Windows components and apps. The update of the user interface itself is codenamed “Sun Valley” according to Zac Bowden of Windows Central. According to Bowden, this update of the user interface includes a revision of the start menu, the action center and some Microsoft apps in the inbox / package and is an optional change.
My contacts say the code name Sun Valley actually exists. According to materials I saw this summer, Microsoft Engineering described the version of Windows 10 due out next fall as “Windows 10 ++”. Perhaps Sun Valley is the equivalent of “++” here. These ++ / Sun Valley changes are likely to find their way into Windows 10X for single-screen devices by spring 2022 based on the latest information I’ve heard / seen.
I asked Microsoft again today whether the introduction of new features for Windows 10 users will change from next year. I was wondering if Microsoft will be adding some new Windows 10 features via cumulative updates until the Cobalt features are released in fall 2021. If I hear more from Microsoft, I’ll add the information to this post.
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