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Microsoft’s Panos Panay teases Windows 10 overhaul with bold new Start Menu

Panos Panay, chief product officer of Microsoft’s Devices group, posted a video on his Instagram in celebration of Windows 10 hitting the 1 billion devices landmark. The video teased some tasty morsels regarding the future of Windows 10, including a redesign of the Start Menu and File Explorer.

The video starts by cycling through all the iterations of the Start button, eventually arriving at the logo we’re familiar with today. From there, we get a glimpse of the new Windows 10 icons and the changes made to the Start Menu.

Aside from the icons, the biggest change to the Start Menu is the de-emphasis of Live Tiles. They haven’t been removed entirely, but they’re no longer hogging the spotlight. Live Tiles, a holdover from Windows 8, feature bright, bold colors and automatically updating data.

The new Start Menu is a bit more subtle, relying on softer icons, empty space, and more useful links to often-used applications. The Start Menu is also a bit wider now, increasing the margins between lines and icons.

For a split-second toward the end of the video, we get a glimpse of a new File Explorer, peeking from behind another window. The difference between this and the older File Explorer is drastic. Icons are larger, spacing is wider, and more options and tools are hidden. It’s a far cleaner and more modern look.

A lot of these design changes fall in line with the upcoming Windows 10X, made for dual-screen devices, including the new icons and wider spacing.

This is important, as Windows 10X will technically have two File Explorers to ensure older legacy apps are fully supported. If both File Explorers have the same look, that’ll make transitioning between the two less jarring.

All these changes are thanks to a recent corporate restructure at Microsoft. Panay was recently put in charge of both hardware and Windows, which left us hoping we’d see more alignment in products. According to this preview, we’re already beginning to some changes come to fruition.

When will we see these updates roll out to Windows 10? There’s been no official word, though we do have one clue. Windows 10X is due out this Holiday season on devices like the Surface Neo, which could point to a fall release for this Windows 10 update. Given there’s a lot of shared design language between the two, that seems like a possibility.

Microsoft usually plans a fall update to Windows 10 in October. An update would align both versions of the operating system heading into 2021.

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Luke Larsen
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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