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MJF Chat|Podcasts|Windows 10|Windows Client OS

MJFChat: What's Next for Windows?

 

We’re doing a twice-monthly interview show on Petri.com that is dedicated to covering topics of interest to our tech-professional audience. We have branded this show “MJFChat.”

In my role as Petri’s Community Magnate, I will be interviewing a variety of IT-savvy technology folks. Some of these will be Petri contributors; some will be tech-company employees; some will be IT pros. We will be tackling various subject areas in the form of 30-minute audio interviews. I will be asking the questions, the bulk of which we’re hoping will come from you, our Petri.com community of readers.

Readers can submit questions via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and/or LinkedIn using the #AskMJF hashtag. Once the interviews are completed, we will post the audio and associated transcript in the forums for readers to digest at their leisure. (By the way, did you know MJFChats are now available in podcast form? Go here for MJF Chat on Spotify; here for Apple Podcasts on iTunes; and here for Google Play.)

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Our latest MJFChat is focused on Windows 10 and what’s likely next for Microsoft’s operating system. (We have to say “likely” here because Microsoft hasn’t yet shared many details about expected deliverables like Windows 10X, Windows 10 21H2 and “Sun Valley.” My special guest, Windows Central Senior Editor Zac Bowden, has some pretty good sources and has had some great insights into what Microsoft is likely to do here. He and I chatted about these topics and lots more in this episode.

If you know someone you’d like to see interviewed on the MJFChat show, including yourself, just Tweet to me or drop me a line. (Let me know why you think this person would be an awesome guest and what topics you’d like to see covered.) We’ll take things from there…

Mary Jo Foley:
Hi, you’re listening to the Petri.com MJF Chat show. I am Mary Jo Foley, AKA your Petri.com community magnate. And I am here to interview tech industry experts about various topics that you, our readers and listeners want to know about. Today’s MJF Chat is going to be focused on what’s likely next for Windows and who better than Zac Bowden, a senior editor at Windows Central to join in on the speculation. Hi Zac, I’m really excited about this chat today with you.

Zac Bowden:
Hey, Mary Jo, thank you so much for inviting me on. I’m so excited to be here.

Mary Jo Foley:
Yay. So we got a ton of questions on Twitter about this, which isn’t surprising. And I’m going to ask you a number of those on behalf of our listeners during the chat, but before we start, I thought it might be good for us to just do a quick lightning round about some of the biggest Windows news that isn’t as anticipated between what’s left of 2021 and going into 2022. Because you and I are really immersed in these code names, but not everybody is. Yeah. So let me ask you, you know, based on your well-sourced perspective about some of these things, just to give people kind of a broad brush understanding. So I’m going to just list some things that we think are going to debut in the coming months as Microsoft, likes say in the coming months, Windows 10X is one of those. How would you describe that to people who may not be all that familiar with it?

Zac Bowden:
So Windows 10X is Microsoft’s attempt at a lighter weight, more modern version of Windows, sort of aimed at the enterprise slash commercial market in the low end. And also eventually, maybe in the high end for sort of unique new devices like dual screens. If they ever get around to actually doing those. I look at Windows 10X as Microsoft’s iPad iOS. It’s a sort of, not as capable platform that Microsoft would like the mainstream to use one day, but obviously isn’t there yet.

Mary Jo Foley:
So do you, when I think about it, I also think of it as like their Chrome OS.

Zac Bowden:
Right, exactly. Yes.

Mary Jo Foley:
Yeah. Okay. So we’re on the same page there. 21H2 and the thing you first broke called Sun Valley, what are those things and how are they related?

Zac Bowden:
So 21H2 is the next big update for Windows 10. We set up 21H1 to come, but 21H2 will be launching in the second half of this year. And the Sun Valley code name is a sort of UI project that’s supposed to be delivered alongside 21H1 that reinvigorates the Windows UI and UX by adding some new features, rounding off corners in the UI and just making Windows a little bit different than what it is currently. Windows 10 has been sort of stagnating for a while. It’s looked same for a number of years. And with Sun Valley they’re trying to freshen it up, give it a new look, possibly like just a reinvigoration of the marketing around Windows and stuff. And just making people aware that Windows is still a thing.

Mary Jo Foley:
I’m glad we already hit the magic phrase, rounded corners, 5 minutes in.

Zac Bowden:
I had to slip it in there somewhere.

Mary Jo Foley:
I knew you were going to, next up dark mode, right?

Zac Bowden:
Exactly.

Mary Jo Foley:
Project Latte

Zac Bowden:
Project Latte is a codename I heard that I was told is about bringing Android apps to the Microsoft store on Windows 10. Now, unfortunately, details around exactly how this will work or when it will show up are still pretty light. I know that, I mean, when I heard about this, I think it was late last year. I heard that they were hoping to get it into preview later this year. And yeah, I assume it’s based on when WSL or some technology similar to that, because Microsoft has tried this before, right. With Project Astoria, and that was using some kind of Linux subsystem of some kind. So perhaps they’re going along the same path there, but yes, Android apps in the Microsoft store on Windows 10,

Mary Jo Foley:
Do you know or think this will be handled by virtualization or emulation somehow? Or do we even know that?

Zac Bowden:
I don’t know if I had to guess, I’d say it’s using whatever WSL uses these days.

Mary Jo Foley:
Yeah. Okay, I’m very intrigued on that one. I got to say, when you first reported about Latte, I’m like, who wants Android apps on Windows?

Zac Bowden:
I agree. I have no use for it. I think it might be more of a developer play, but I don’t know.

Mary Jo Foley:
Well, it’s funny because I wrote something about it and I put the question out to people and I’m like, do you want Android apps on Windows? And I couldn’t believe how many people wanted it.

Zac Bowden:
I know it’s crazy. I just, I can’t think of any Android app that I want on Windows.

Mary Jo Foley:
You know, a lot of them are like home automation kinds of things and entertainment kinds of things, you know? Yeah, so that one, I was like a little perplexed about, I was like, wait didn’t they decide they weren’t going to do this. And now here we are again.

Zac Bowden:
We’re back.

Mary Jo Foley:
I know, I know. Okay. One near and dear to my heart, Cloud PC, which was codenamed Deschutes. How would you describe that?

Zac Bowden:
Windows, like legacy Windows apps in the cloud, or basically xCloud for Win32 programs is another way of thinking about it, I think I think you know more about this than I do, but I think Cloud PC is, I first heard about it in regards to Windows 10X, because Microsoft changed strategy with Windows 10X. It was originally going to run Win32 programs locally. Then they pulled that tech out and now Windows 10X, when it eventually launches, we think will launch without Win32 program. And they’re going to promote Cloud PC as a way of streaming legacy Win32 programs to those platforms instead.

Mary Jo Foley:
I also think from what I’m hearing about it, that it’s also kind of, even in a broader sense, like Desktop as a Service, right?

Zac Bowden:
Yeah, for sure. What I heard it was based on Windows Virtual Desktop, which is already a product and service that exists, and it serves its purpose quite well in the enterprise market. And I think Cloud PC is just trying to take that and putting it in front of normal PC users who don’t run an enterprise.

Mary Jo Foley:
Right. And who want to pay for it in a different way, not based on a consumption model. Right. Yeah, I’m very intrigued on that one. And then of course they’ll likely be a lot more surface devices, both PCs, tablets, and maybe even a Duo 2, version two this year, right?

Zac Bowden:
Yes, we are. So I believe we will see a new Pro 8 in the fall and maybe a Duo 2 and possibly Studio 3. Studio is such a weird one because that’s always overdo a refresh and it never comes. So we don’t know when the Studio 3, but hopefully at the end of this year, we’re also expecting a spring event as well, Surface Laptop 4, new headphones and stuff. I think usually the spring events were a lot more minor, at the fall events where Microsoft really pushes the boats out and tries to announce new stuff. But that’s, yeah Duo 2 and I think a refreshed Pro 8 with a slightly new design is probably likely this year and Studio 3 is a wait and see.

Mary Jo Foley:
Yeah. Yep. I know. It’s funny just today, somebody asked me is the Surface, Studio line dead? And I’m like, you know, I don’t know.

Zac Bowden:
I wouldn’t blame you if you felt it was.

Mary Jo Foley:
Okay. That was great. That was like a perfect lightning round. And now let’s go to some of the questions that we got through Twitter. There is a Twitter user, name, tyrankoos, who asked a million questions. I’m going to pick a couple of them. They were all really good questions. So we have to broach the subject because a few people asked about this, whether you think we could see Windows 10X on a phone or Windows 10 come to a phone device, or if you think Microsoft is going to stick with the Android platform there?

Zac Bowden:
I think it would be weird for them to announce an Android phone and then release a Windows phone.

Mary Jo Foley:
Me too.

Zac Bowden:
You know within the next five years. I think Windows on phones is a dead idea at this point. I’m not aware of any project to bring that back. I know people want to see Windows 10X on a Surface Duo like device or a phone device, but as far as I’m aware Microsoft did not build 10X with that intention in mind. The UI, although I guess it scales well to a phone size, not everything does. And as far as I’m aware it doesn’t even have any telephony capabilities anymore. I think they’ve ripped that out of Windows a while ago. I’ve honestly, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see it, but I don’t think they’ve got that in any of their plans, at least for the foreseeable future.

Mary Jo Foley:
I agree. I hate to be the Debbie downer all the time when people ask me about it, but I’m like, eh, don’t get your hopes up on that. I don’t think they’re going to do that.

Zac Bowden:
I mean the reason why It won’t happen still is because the app situation is still the same. Right? That hasn’t changed. And I think Microsoft burnt a lot of bridges with their OEMs when, well, their phone OEMs back in the day with how they handled Windows 10 Mobile. And I think it would take a lot of convincing to get those OEMs back on board, the idea of a phone powered, but a Windows powered phone device.

Mary Jo Foley:
Now the same user, tyrankoos, asked, whether you could see somehow 10X passing, I’m kind of paraphrasing here, passing through to an Android phone and then somehow powering Surface AR glasses. Like I think this person’s really looking for like a way to bring phones and AV, AR kinds of stuff all together into one ecosystem.

Zac Bowden:
Well, I’ve not been told that they’re working on AR glasses, that’s for one. I mean, with regards to HoloLens Microsoft already has a version of Windows that runs it on an AR headset of some kinds. That’s what HoloLens 2 runs, but regarding Surface glasses, that’s just a sort of mythical idea at this point. I guess if you look at the rumors around how Apple are planning to do it, I think the rumors suggest that they will be using the power of the iPhone and streaming to their glasses. Maybe the question is, you know, could Microsoft do a similar thing with Android? And the answer

Mary Jo Foley:
Yeah, I think that is his question,

Zac Bowden:
But I don’t know if Microsoft could and would Microsoft want to? Because that’s the problem not having a Windows phone, right? You don’t own the platform. So you have to work around the constraints of other people’s platforms. Could Microsoft still do a heads-up display in glasses powered by an Android phone? I think they could do it. Cause I think there’s third party companies out there who’ve already tried, but does Microsoft want to do that? I don’t know.

Mary Jo Foley:
I know. Right. I mean, there’s technologies they have that make you think they could, if they wanted to, you know, how they were doing compatibility with Arc and that kind of stuff, I’m like, okay, maybe, right?

Zac Bowden:
I think it would be well worthwhile for Microsoft to try and release like a consumer facing HoloLens device first because AI doesn’t really exist yet. There’s no market for AI and Microsoft in the enterprise space is doing the best so far with HoloLens 2. So maybe there’s room for a consumer AR device and whoever gets there first may take the cake on that, but who knows at this point.

Mary Jo Foley:
Right. I think they’re pretty happy with being in the enterprise space there, given that recent contract rate that they had with the virtual system for the army, I think it was. Which is some crazy $20 billion according,

Zac Bowden:
A lot of money.

Mary Jo Foley:
Yeah. Let’s see, Billy Lariviere, on Twitter asked, is there any future for the Windows Photos app to be deployed on Android and iOS? Or should we just think about moving our photos to another more universal photo service?

Zac Bowden:
So I’m not too sure about a universal Microsoft photos app for Android, but I have heard that Microsoft was considering building its own gallery app for the Surface Duo. Cause right now the Surface Duo chips have Google Photos, which is kind of weird if you think about it. Microsoft has OneDrive and has its own photos backup service, but on the Duo, you’re using Google Photos for some reason. So I guess Microsoft could bring whatever gallery app they build for Duo to old Android devices. But I don’t think Microsoft’s competing in that market. If anything, I could see Microsoft upping the OneDrive app and making it a more capable photo viewer, because you can already view your photos in the OneDrive app on Android, but it’s not very good. If they improve that experience, then I would be happy using OneDrive, the app itself, as my gallery on Android and iOS, but we’re not there yet, unfortunately.

Mary Jo Foley:
Right, right. And then another Surface Duo question. I’ve seen a few different questions saying, do you think they could ever bring 10X to the Duo? And then just Billy’s question is, is Surface Duo 2 really coming this year and do you think it could include touchless payment?

Zac Bowden:
So Microsoft obviously has these internal sketches that they hope to reach and often they don’t reach them. As far as I’m aware Microsoft is wanting to get the Duo 2 out by the end of this year. And regarding NFC payments, I think is what contactless payments are. I have heard that it will have an NFC. I’ve been told that what the Duo 1 was missing in regards to obvious phone like features the Duo 2 should have. So think of NFC, possibly wireless charging, a better camera. Those are all things that are on the cut, because Microsoft is aware that the Duo 1 wasn’t a great phone. They’re not blind to that idea. And with Duo 2, because they definitely want to do a Duo 2, and I think they even want to do a Duo 3, at the very least. That they will improve upon it in the obvious ways that where people have complained the most, and NFC is definitely one of them.

Mary Jo Foley:
You know, what’s funny about that. Hearing you talk about bringing more phone like features to it. When they launched the Duo, they kept trying to pretend it wasn’t a phone right. Then they threw it in the very first demo of it publicly, it being used as a phone. So it’s like, okay, you know what? People are going to use this as a phone.

Zac Bowden:
Yeah. Well, I think that stems from what the Duo originally was, which was this device code named, Andromeda. I snuck that in there as well, finally. Which, Andromeda was supposed to be this sort of pocket PC like Windows device, right? And it was the shape and size of the Duo, but unfortunately the Windows part of that fell through and that never happened. So they put Android on it. But when you move to Android, you automatically position it as a phone because that’s what Android is. Android is a phone platform. I mean, sure you can get it on tablets and stuff, but it does phone stuff the best. So Microsoft really couldn’t avoid it for much longer. They have to acknowledge that it’s a phone because it is, that’s what it does. It’s a phone device.

Mary Jo Foley:
Right, right. Billy’s got a very all encompassing question here. But I think you and I have privately talked about this a bit. He wants to know, is there any active development on the idea of a next “Windows” kind of paradigm? He doesn’t mean Windows 10 increments, but a whole new Windows concept.

Zac Bowden:
It was interesting because with the Sun Valley stuff, it really does sound like Microsoft wants to reposition us or reignite the fire that is under Windows. Like Windows is I think fallen by the wayside quite a bit in the last couple of years ever since Terry Myerson left. And I think what really did it was the October, 2018 update, which when that came out, if you remember launched with a bug that deleted files or something, and that was a really big deal. And after that Microsoft really scaled back, like okay, we’re not doing any major changes to Windows. Let’s just focus on keeping it stable and leave it as is. Back in, I think it was February last year, Panos Panay took charge of Windows. And since then, all we’ve really heard about is new and big changes coming to Windows to reinvigorate, re-light the fire underneath it.

Zac Bowden:
And later this year when Sun Valley launches or when 21H2 launches, will we see Microsoft rebrand or, you know, give like a new version of Windows. And I think it’s possible, right. I have heard that in regards to marketing Microsoft is planning a big, the “new Windows” kind of push. I think a WalkingCat tweeted a bit about that as well. And the phrase, “the new Windows” sort of implies that, you know, this isn’t Windows 10 anymore. This is something more. Regarding whether it will be Windows 11, I don’t think they will do that. But I think I could definitely see them removing the 10 and just calling it Windows. Cause I think that’s what they’ve always wanted to do, right?

Mary Jo Foley:
Right, right. And I’ve seen people being confused about what, you know, and Panos has hinted around about something bigger or something new. I think people are confused. Is he talking about Sun Valley in 21H2? Or is he talking about 10X, which I don’t think he is?

Zac Bowden:
No, I don’t think he is either. Only because 10X, as far as we understand it, 10X, the launch of 10X this year will be a relatively minor one aimed primarily at sort of commercial markets. Whereas Sun Valley will be going to all 1 billion Windows 10 users, more or less. So I think that Microsoft wants to shine the spotlight on Sun Valley. Cause it would be weird for them to do this Sun Valley stuff and then also announce and launch 10X and sort of give that the marketing budget because Sun Valley is where Microsoft users are. That’s where 1 billion Windows 10 users are. Windows 10X currently has zero users.

Mary Jo Foley:
Right.

Zac Bowden:
And with it launching only for commercial markets, I think it makes more sense to Microsoft, to launch Sun Valley, focus on that for the next 12 months or whatever. Then later next year, 2022 to start focusing on Windows 10X a bit and beginning that transition to here’s this new version of Windows it’s called 10X or whatever. And here’s what it can do that’s better than Windows 10, et cetera, et cetera.

Mary Jo Foley:
For the IT Pros in the audience who are listening. And I know we have a lot of them on Petri. Don’t worry too much about all these sweeping changes you’re hearing about Sun Valley, right? Because I’ve heard Zac say publicly that likely those are gonna be able to be turned off.

Zac Bowden:
Yeah. so not all features will be turned off. I think Microsoft is going to pick and choose which ones will be an option for users. For example, I did hear they were working on a new start menu layout and I have been told that you can turn off the new start menu and go back to the existing one. That’s just an example. But also I think Microsoft would do things regarding how they’re delivering this update. I don’t think it would be like a day one, everybody gets it. I think they’re going to take it very slowly, roll it out here and there. Enterprises will likely be able to delay it like they normally can. I think you’ll be able to stick on 21H1 for as long as you want. And then slowly but surely update to 21H2 or even 22H1, or whenever you want to do an update. Yeah, Microsoft is aware that they can’t upset their enterprise and IT Pro customers, they need to be careful. And you know, introducing a brand new UI is risky, it’s risky business, right? Especially for Windows. If you look at Windows 8, they did a terrible job at that.

Mary Jo Foley:
Just gotta bring that up. Yeah, I think they learned their lesson maybe.

Zac Bowden:
Yeah, I think they have, and I don’t, as far as I’m aware, the Sun Valley changes aren’t on the level of Windows 8. It was still looking still like Windows. Like they’re not drastically changing up the UX. We’re just getting, it’s going to be shinier and look a bit nicer. Some of the start menu layouts will be different and whatnot, but I think overall it was still looking still like Windows.

Mary Jo Foley:
Hmm. Do you think if you’re trying to figure out where Microsoft’s going, with Sun Valley a good place to look is Mac OS?

Zac Bowden:
Well, I don’t think they’re going to copy Mac OS one-to-one. I think they’re definitely looking at how Apple delivered Big Sur, cause for those who don’t know with Mac OS Big Sur, they’ve delivered an entire new UI refresh with it. So basically the old version looks a bit different. The new one looks shinier and stuff. I think that’s what they’re trying to do at Windows 10. But I don’t think it will like be similar to Mac OS. I still think it would be much more Windows like, and maybe they’ll copy the rounded corners. They probably definitely are copying the rounded corners.

Mary Jo Foley:
Right. Kind of like the News and Interest thing, doesn’t Mac have something similar to that too?

Zac Bowden:
I wouldn’t know, I don’t use my Mac OS.

Mary Jo Foley:
Neither do I. Look at us rebels.

Zac Bowden:
Well, I think the News/Interest thing’s interesting because it’s essentially msn.com in the task bar, right? That’s such a weird play for them in my opinion, but I guess there’s a purpose behind it

Mary Jo Foley:
Probably ads my guess.

Zac Bowden:
Yeah, probably yes.

Mary Jo Foley:
Okay. Another Sun Valley question from, Sergio Dilor on Twitter, this is very specific. He said, will Sun Valley include changes around font rendering?

Zac Bowden:
I have no idea.

Mary Jo Foley:
I know I’m like, wow, that’s very specific.

Zac Bowden:
That is very specific, I forgot to ask that one. Sorry.

Mary Jo Foley:
So Sergio also asked a couple other good questions. He asked are features like windowed apps, virtual desktops, multi-user support possibly, eventually coming to 10X.

Zac Bowden:
Yes. So obviously with the 10X that’s been announced, the 10X announcement has been weird. They announced it for dual screen and they sort of backtracked on that and they haven’t really shown off 10X for single screen PCs yet. So as far as I’m aware, we have no idea. But based on a leaked build of 10X, which came out, I think in January it doesn’t yet have windowed apps. However, I’ve seen builds of Windows 10X that does have that capability. So they definitely have considered it. I believe they’ve built it. And I think what they’re doing is they’re just, they’re being a little bit more cautious as to which devices have what features. I think regarding app windows, for example, I think they were limiting it to devices with screen sizes of 13 inches or above. The problem is I don’t think we’re going to see any Windows 10X devices with that screen size, just yet. I think they’re going to be much smaller, less than 13 inch, sort of mini laptops or tablets at launch, but over time, yeah.

Zac Bowden:
Microsoft definitely wants Windows 10X to eventually become the mainstream version of Windows. And that will include having to bring things like multi-user support and app windows to 10X, otherwise nobody will use it. So yeah, over time this will happen. But because 10X is built on this new Windows Core base, it takes them a lot longer to really implement these things. Which is, I guess, why they they’re scoping the launch to such a sort of unique market, the commercial sort of low end market so that the mainstream audience doesn’t catch that it’s not ready yet for most people.

Mary Jo Foley:
Right. Right. A couple of points on 10X. One thing that we both have heard I believe is that it won’t run on existing devices, right? Like it’s being built for brand new devices that aren’t in market. Although inside Microsoft, they actually are running it on existing, a couple of existing Surface devices.

Zac Bowden:
Yeah. So, internally I believe they’ve run it on the Surface Pro 5, 6, 7, and the X as well as the Surface Go. And I believe Surface Go 2 and they do that for like engineers to sort of test the bills that they are working on and stuff. But externally, yes, the plan is to only launch 10X on new devices. So you won’t be able to buy a Windows 10X license and then download a Windows 10X ISO to install on your existing Surface laptop or HP laptop or something. And the reason for that is one obviously it allows Microsoft to control the marketing, control who gets access to it and stuff. But two, it’s also because from a technical perspective, Windows 10X and Windows 10 are very different operating systems. I know Microsoft would like you to believe that they’re basically the same OS with a different skin under the hood. That’s not true. Windows 10X being based on Windows Core is basically a new version of Windows. It’s a rethinking of the Windows code base and how it lays itself out on a hard drive, for example, whereas Windows 10 is very much legacy Windows. Windows 10, you can dig deep into Windows 10 and find things that go as far back as Windows 95, if not further, that’s not the case on Windows 10X.

Mary Jo Foley:
But do you still believe some of the look and feel and features of 10 X will come to big Windows, regular Windows, at some point?

Zac Bowden:
Yeah, I think that’s kind of half what Sun Valley is trying to do. I think it’s trying to bridge the UX experiences across 10X and desktop. I think not everything of course, but definitely some of the best parts of 10X. I think the action center from 10X will come to desktop with Sun Valley, if not slightly a bit tweaked, but I definitely think that they’re trying to join those UIs where it makes sense.

Mary Jo Foley:
Okay. We got a couple of questions about Cortana,

Zac Bowden:
Oh, good.

Mary Jo Foley:
I know, which was kind of surprising, I thought. But yeah, people want to know, is there a future? What is the future? So I’ve tried to explain this myself before about how Cortana has changed, but let’s have you have a go at it?

Zac Bowden:
Well, I don’t think my answer is going to be any different. Microsoft has repositioned Cortana. When it was first announced Cortana was this sort of Siri, Google Assistant competitor right. There’s no arguing against that. In fact, when Cortana was announced, it was arguably better than those other competitors at the time. But today that is not the case. Microsoft has slowly but surely sort of retrenched Cortana. And it’s now something that they focus on more of the enterprise, more productivity based stuff, rather than being a sort of all purpose assistant for news, weather, you know, controlling your lights. That’s no longer the case. And as far as I’m aware, they’re not planning to bring that back. Cortana’s future is cemented in helping you write emails or helping you create calendar events. We’ll put people at work and whatnot. I do not expect them to return to the, to the Siri, Google Assistant market, unfortunately.

Mary Jo Foley:
Yeah. I don’t either. People I think, have hope against hope that that’s going to happen, but I don’t think it will or can. Okay. And then back to Sergio Dilor, he also had a question about the apps and we already talked a little bit about photos, but he said any idea or news about what might happen with apps, and he said, what about OneOutlook? And he even put Groove in there, which is interesting.

Zac Bowden:
So, regarding in-box Windows apps. I have heard that most of them will be getting some kind of Win UI update with Sun Valley. To what extent? I don’t know, some of them will be updated more than others. I have heard that there are some updates coming to the photos app, although I’m not too sure on what the specifics are around that. I know there’s a lot of complaints around the photos app being kind of slow and a bit clunky for what it’s supposed to do. And I think one of Microsoft’s goals is to sort of make it a lightweight photo viewer. Cause that’s what it’s supposed to be. Other apps like mail and calendar, they’re in a weird position because as I’ve reported, they are working to replace those eventually with OneOutlook, or I think it’s codenamed Monarch, and that is a web. Basically Outlook web, but built as an app for Windows and Mac OS and probably Linux as well.

Zac Bowden:
And they will replace the mail and calendar apps eventually, but that won’t be ready until 2022 sometime. So, you know, they’re taking their time with that. But yeah, I mean with the latest Windows Insider build. You may have noticed that they’ve started to reshuffle the apps list quite a bit. And I think what they’re trying to do is simplify the apps list as much as they can. They’re definitely hiding some legacy stuff. They’re moving things around. They’re promoting some legacy stuff as well, like the Paint app and Notepad, are now on the main apps list. And they’re really sort of prioritizing what users use and what users don’t use. And going so far as to hiding them. I think they’ve hidden like three main folders in the apps list now. And I don’t think they’re going to stop. I think they’re going to keep simplifying where they can. Cause you know, if they’re looking at Mac OS and iPad OS, they’re very simple looking platforms. Right? And I think they’re trying to do the same thing with Windows.

Mary Jo Foley:
Okay. Last question is from me to you, where do you think we’re going to hear about things like 10X and Sun Valley? Do you think they’ll actually talk about this at Build or we keep hearing it might be a what’s next for Windows event, which may or may not be the same thing as Build. Any idea about how they’re going to tell us about this?

Zac Bowden:
It’s a good question. So the last I heard back in February, I was told that there would be a Windows event in June or an event or some kind that would focus on Windows in June. But as we now know, Build is late May. So I’m wondering if maybe they just weren’t sure when Build was going to be, and now they have the dates. So late May will be that. But as far as I’m aware, a Windows event sounds like it was going to happen in June. And that lines up with the schedule I have internally regarding when Cobalts and Sun Valley development are supposed to sort of be done. So as you may have talked about it before Windows is developed on a semester-based cycle.

Mary Jo Foley:
Right.

Zac Bowden:
And there’s two semesters a year, there’s the first half and the second half. January to June and then July to December. Currently right now we’re in the Cobalt semester.

Zac Bowden:
So it was codenamed Cobalt, and that’s just how they refer to it. And that’s supposed to be done in June, which would line up with this Windows event that I’ve, that we’ve possibly heard about. But Sun Valley is interesting because they’re developing it, there’s two parts to it. It’s not just one release, there’s the initial Cobalt release, which will be done in June. That will go off to OEMs once it RTMs. But then there’s like this I21 release, which sits on top of the Cobalt RTM, and that will add additional features and UX changes and whatever else they’re planning with Sun Valley. And that will be in testing throughout the summer. And won’t launch to the public until probably October, which is usually when the H2 version launches. So I think for Insiders, this matters more because they’re going to see somebody sort of show up in the summertime, but for the public, they don’t really need to worry about anything until October.

Mary Jo Foley:
Okay. Yep. That’s good. Cool. Well, thank you so much, Zac. That was really fun. Whirlwind tour of what’s likely next for Windows. So I appreciate the time.

Zac Bowden:
Thank you for having me on. I’m happy to be here.

Mary Jo Foley:
Great. For everyone else. Who’s listening right now to this chat or reading the transcript. I’ll be putting up more information soon about who my next guest is going to be. And once you see that you can submit questions directly on Twitter using the #MJFChat. In the meantime, if you know of anyone else or even yourself who might make a good guest for one of these chats, please do not hesitate to drop me a note. Thank you very much.

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Comments (1)

One response to “MJFChat: What’s Next for Windows?”

  1. Dark_Phoenix38

    I generally don't put any weight on what might be coming to Windows now or in the future due to the fact what we tend to hear is often hot air and almost never come to fruition. In fact I can count on one hand how many leaks then to be on the nail.


    So it makes me wonder, should we really be focussing on these "leaks" and rumours? Hype can be good if built in the right way, but instead we are often let down. It this the fault of Microsoft or the medium peddling these storied that are pure speculation.


    Yes, Windows 10 is in need of an overhaul and it's starting the look tired and dated, the OS became a casualty of the Azure platform which became Microsoft's main focus for a number of years.


    I disagree with the notion that Microsoft were pushing updates to keep Windows 10 stable rather than risk breaking something and feeling the wrath of the Windows community, as I am sure you are all aware that it's not the first time Microsoft has broken a feature or two in Windows after publishing an update.


    I think we will see Windows 11 by the end of the year and it'll be more than simple UI refresh for Windows 10. As we are aware Microsoft as removing more and more tools from Control Panel and incorporating them into Settings, yes this is slow but there seems to be more progress being made in this area.


    Windows 10x is an odd duck and it would be very strange to release this OS without the ability to run Win32 apps natively, if you think back Microsoft has been down this path before with Windows RT etc and look at how this turned out.


    I think I will sit back, ride the Insider wave and wait for Build to arrive as I'm sure we will get more answers to these questions.

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