• Steven Burstyn

Will Sun Valley Change the Version Number of Windows and What Will They Do to the Start Menu?


When Microsoft released Windows 10, they were very clear that 10 would be the last version of Windows to be released. Instead of incrementing the version number, they would focus on two major releases every year, rolling out new functions and visual styles gradually over time.


It looks as if Microsoft has had a change of heart for their next release due out this Fall. Code-named Sun Valley, Microsoft is holding an event on June 24th to announce Sun Valley. We know this will be a significant update to the Operating System. The rumors are that this next update can bring significant changes to things like the Start Menu, Action Center, File Explorer, and Taskbar. Rumors are that Sun Valley will also update the look and feel of Windows with a modern look and will also add new features.


Changes such as these are always expected. Microsoft has been trying to make changes to parts of Windows that have been around since Windows 95, specifically the Start Menu. The Start Menu has gone through several iterations over the years. The original Start Menu had one column. The first major overhaul took place with Windows XP when a second column was added. Besides the installed apps, and of course, the shutdown button, XP added links for frequently used folders like My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, and other special folders.


With Windows 8, Microsoft implemented a significant change to the Start Menu, replacing it with a Start Screen. Microsoft took the step to remove the Start button altogether. To get to the new Start Screen, which was full screen, includes larger tiles representing apps and functions, and included dynamic content, you had to either point your mouse to the bottom left of the screen where the Start button had been, use the Windows button on your keyboard, or if you were on a tablet or had a touchscreen monitor you were able to swipe up to bring up the Start Screen.


Another significant change was to remove the place where you were able to shut down. When Windows 95 introduced the Start Button, there was a bit of humor and quite a bit of derision pointed at Microsoft and Bill Gates for placing the button to shut down, log out, or hibernate the machine in the Start Menu, leading to the oft-repeated direction used by people walking others through troubleshooting steps, “Click Start – Shut Down.”


While Microsoft took their fair share of ribbing for this counterintuitive combination, when they removed the Shut Down button from the Start Screen, Windows users did not react well at all. Microsoft also took the idea of “Start” rather seriously as Windows 8 opened to the Start Screen instead of the desktop as it had in every version of Windows before it.


These changes did not go over too well, and they were considered just part of the reason why Windows 8 was thoroughly disliked by so many long-time Windows users. In a rare capitulation to user demands, the ability to shut down was returned to “Start” with the April 2014 update of Windows 8.1.


Windows 10 saw the return of the Start Menu, which combined the old school app list and special folders with the larger tiles and dynamic content of the Start Screen, and you had the option to replace the Start Menu with the Start Screen if you wished to do so, though we do not think this was commonly used. (Full discloser: this writer used the Start Screen in Windows 10 for about a month before returning to the comfort of the Start Menu. You are used to what you are used to.)


So two of the big questions we are anxious to see answered are:


  1. Will Microsoft keep the name Windows 10 or go to Windows 11. Microsoft has been dropping subtle hints that they might up the number to 11. The June 24th announcement, for instance, starts at 11 am Pacific Time, which is not a usual starting time for Microsoft announcements.

  2. What will they do with almost sacred features such as the Start Menu? After 26 years of “Start,” even though they replaced the word “Start” with an icon of the Microsoft Logo with the release of Windows 7 twelve years ago, the first attempt of removing it did not go well.


This next version of Windows could be the greatest thing to come out of Redmond since Minesweeper. Is the Windows community ready to let go of the Start button? We’ll have to wait and see.

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