Source: Windows Central

The New Year is just around the corner, so it’s time to start thinking about what the coming year could mean for die-hard Windows users. In 2020 Microsoft remembered that Windows is an important product in its portfolio as the global pandemic made people return to the PC to do their work from home.

Microsoft quickly teamed up with Microsoft Teams, Edge, and Office to serve users who now work from home, but Windows is a different beast. Windows can’t innovate as quickly as these other products, but that doesn’t mean innovation isn’t coming. In early 2020, Microsoft hired its Chief Product Officer Panos Panay responsible of the Windows client.

This means that Microsoft’s best hardware type is now monitoring the Windows user experience and feature set and has already launched a major update for Windows 10, which is expected to be released in late 2021. This major update is codenamed Sun Valley and aims to reinvigorate the Windows user experience with modern, consistent designs and experiences.

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We don’t fully understand yet what Sun Valley will bring to the table outside of top-level UI changes and improvements. Personally, I hope to see the big Sun Valley update to Windows 10 next year.

A better tablet experience

Windows 10x Mock Prox Split

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Windows 10 doesn’t do very well on devices without a keyboard and mouse. It’s a far cry from the fast and fluid Windows 8 experience, and I think Microsoft will have to spend some time getting back to the “fast and fluid” level when it comes to touch-first devices. I’d love to see fluid animation, better gestures, and a streamlined file explorer for touch users.

Clean up the taskbar

Windows 10 taskbar

Source: Windows Central

Windows has long had the taskbar, and I think it’s time Microsoft gutted it for a more contemporary experience. Remove the date, increase the time, and move the overflow menu to the Action Center. You can even take inspiration from the Windows 10X taskbar, which is a single button that opens the Action Center.

Rethink the timeline

Windows 10 timeline

Source: Windows Central

It is far from controversial to say that Timeline is a bug on Windows 10. I don’t use it and I don’t know anyone who uses it. I’m sure there are some of you out there, but I don’t think Timeline was the hit Microsoft was hoping for, and I think that’s because of where it is. The timeline doesn’t make sense in the task view and should be in the start menu instead.

Microsoft should also adjust what actually appears in the timeline. It doesn’t have to show me my last visited web pages, but it should show me my last documents in Office as well as recently opened files on my PC. I also think that the “timeline” aspect of the timeline needs to go as it overcomplicated things. Just make it a “Recent Documents” section, like on Windows 10X.

Integrate the Your Phone experience

Your phone

Source: Windows Central

I love the Your Phone app on Windows 10. I think it’s one of the best apps on the platform, but my only problem with that is that it doesn’t seem to integrate with the OS at all. I would love if your phone had a built-in system applet that could be pinned to the system tray, similar, if not identical, to how the old My People UI works.

In fact, it could be exactly where the old My People icon used to be. You click on it and a small widget will appear with your latest phone notifications, texts and photos. One button lets you jump into your phone’s full app when you want to do more. Come on Microsoft, make it happen!

A great year for Windows

2020 was a year of preparation for Windows. Panos Panay took command in February and his influence on Windows will take full effect in 2021. We’re going to see big updates to the Windows 10 desktop, Windows 10X startup, and a new cloud PC service that lets you run legacy Windows apps from the cloud.

It’s fair to say that 2021 will be a big year for Windows, arguably one of the biggest since Windows 10 launched. Windows 10 was on the backbone before Panos Panay took office, but now Windows is back in the spotlight, and Microsoft has to put on his best show now.

What do you think of Windows 10 in 2021? Let us know in the comments.

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