Windows 11 startup sound, UI, wallpapers, and more emerge following leaked build

Windows 11 Leak
Windows 11 Leak (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The first build of Windows 11 has leaked online.
  • We're grabbing images as quickly as we can to show off how the operating system looks.
  • Since this is a leaked build, it may not represent the final look of Windows 11.

The first Windows 11 build has leaked online. Our senior editor Zac Bowden is working quickly to get a closer look at the operating system. The leaked build gives us a first look at how Windows 11 will look, including the new Start menu and Taskbar.

Since this is a leaked build, some parts of it may not look the same as the version of Windows 11 that ships to the public. That being said, Bowden states that the Start menu and Taskbar are representative of what will ship with Windows 11.

First glimpse at Windows 11 UI

Soon after the build leaked online, we grabbed some shots of its Start menu and Taskbar. Our senior editor Zac Bowden has a full piece breaking down the new Windows 11 Start menu and Taskbar.

Windows 11 startup sound

Bowden also shared a clip of the new Windows 11 startup sound and compared it to the one from Windows 95.

See more

Windows 11 wallpapers

24 Windows 11 wallpapers appeared online following the leaked build of the operating system. You can sneak a peek at some of the wallpapers below and can also download them for yourself. Twitter user @ChangeWindows gathered them together and put them in a OneDrive folder.

Widgets on Windows 11

While they don't show any content in the shared screenshot, Mehedi Hassan shared an image of what appear to be widgets on Windows 11.

See more

Windows 11 setup process

Well-known Twitter user ADeltaX shared an entire thread going through the Windows 11 startup process from the leaked build. The first tweet of the thread is below.

See more

Windows 11 File Explorer and menus

ADeltaX also shared images of the Windows 11 File Explorer and menus.

What do you think of Windows 11?

We want to know what you think of the first glimpse of Windows 11. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Are you holding judgment until you can see me? Let us know in the poll above and in the comments below.

This is a developing story. We will continue to add screenshots and clips as they come in. A full video walkthrough is also on the way.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

82 Comments
  • centered taskbar? oh boy no please no just no
  • Same sentiments here. But there should be a way to align left from what I've heard.
  • It's optional. You can align to the left if you want.
  • Ah! Widgets! There we go! I can live with the lack of Live Tiles now knowing this! :)
  • Yeah me too. The potential absolute lack of at-a-glance data was the issue for me.
  • I find it very fugly.
  • Just wait for Stardock, as I'm sure they'll eventually have a "Windows 10 skin" to run on Windows 11 lol.
  • No need, he can still use Windows 10 for more 4 or 5 years
  • What, exactly? If its the centered toolbar, it sounds like you can focus it left if you like. Other than that, it looks like a Windows desktop.
  • Maybe the widgets should be an option for the Start Menu?
  • MS has done almost nothing to enhance tiles so my guess is that tiles will be dead in this iteration.
  • I really don't like the White bottom bar, it's gross. It needs transparency and it needs to be shorter.
  • I agree. I eliminated mine with a GitHub app. I have a completely transparent bar. Sorry I don't remember now what the app was called and I'm not near my computer.
  • File Explorer still looks sloppy and archaic.
  • It is still Windows. It will still be sloppy and archaic, it will just look a bit better now.
  • Its still more useful then Finder on Mac and, frankly, I like it better then any iteration I have found for Linux Desktop.
  • The only thing File Explorer does better than Finder is grid view but other than that its search function is horribly broken and has been for many versions of Windows, you just can't find anything with it.
  • I thought it was just me but something seems off.
    File explorer does not looks polished and I find it a bit weird.
  • Some screenshots show the time and hour together with the day. Why? 😥 I was really hoping for having just the time in there.
  • From what I understand this is a very early version. There is no telling what the final widgets will look like.
  • Lets hope EVENT introduces some more Refined , better and consistent finished product.
    Not just typical "Windows 10 with rounded corners" but actually a Next Gen OS With enough refined new features and experience to call this "WIndows 11"
    Like come on , If its gonna be like this then they should have just called it
    "21H2 Sun Valley" Update for Windows 10 . DAMN ITS NOTHING MAJOR , to be honest
    I guess i expected too much from Microsoft
  • Windows 10 is made in India. You cant expect a lot… just see last 5 years of development of windows
  • No, it is not. It's actually made in the homes of MS developers working from home.
  • You got all that from a little article and 21 screen shots? LOL
  • So tablet mode is totaly gone :D wow…
    I didnt expected that hard step. Well I hope Apple will improve their iPadOS even more, cuz Im big tablet lover (even more surface lover), and its because Windows 8 was really really great for tablets. But thats garbage, rly. I think i leave this platform.
  • Where does it say tablet mode is gone? That would be a dumb move considering the success of Surface.
  • Tablet mode was meh already. This is better due to better touch zones, but I do hope for a better touch interface still in the future
  • Zac mentions in the video demoing the OS that Tablet Mode is gone. Sadly, it is no longer an option.
  • Tablet mode is gone but there is a new touch experience which seems better than the current tablet mode. I hope there will be more regarding touch UX.
  • “Windows 8 was really really great for tablets.“ - said no one ever Sales of Windows 8 tablets were non-existent. The few that were released immediately failed in the market. Windows 8 was maybe the worst tablet OS ever released. Except for one awesome gesture, it was a dumpster fire.
  • Well now you can list someone who says W8.1 was fantastic for tablets. The Charms bar was perfect for touch with the thumbs on both sides and the IE Metro was the best touch interface browser for the time, even better then iOS Safari. The full tile interface was great with pinch to zoom and fingers up gave extra features. W8.1 biggest problem was that it does not have a desktop mode, which was dumb. Instead of just fixing this, they ripped almost the entire interface out.
  • "W8.1 biggest problem was that it does not have a desktop mode" Huh? Have you actually used 8.1? Of COURSE it has a desktop.
  • I really just came to read the comments. I love it when people's hair catches fire over these changes.
  • I think the things MS is emphasizing are the things that are most different. Otherwise there doesn't look to be many huge differences. But we'll have to wait and see.
  • Could be. Except Msft isn't emphasizing anything here ... all this comes from a leaked ISO. I do look forward to the 24th!
  • True, I meant WC not MS. And I should also say that the improvements to the touch system are a bigger deal than I expected. I want to know how the task switching (especially for full-screen apps) works with touch. Is there a dedicated gesture, as there appears to be with minimize, etc.?
  • Hopefully MS consolidates all scroll bars to a single design. I counted three different scroll bar design in the video alone. Get Started, File Explorer and the rest of Windows 11 shouldn't have different scroll bar designs for each of them. On a personal note, I really hope they don't nix the Start Screen and live tiles.
  • Not bad, but bad. I do not like the new start menu. I would rather it look and act like Windows 10 display of programs running down the side and tiles I can adjust in size and location and grouping (on the same screen, no extra clicks). The same size icons in rows was nice on my Palm Pilot years ago, today not so much. We went backwards or actually worse.
  • Agreed. Ironically, it's Apple who appears to now be moving increasingly in the direction of live tiles with the way their new widgets are looking. I suspect Apple is just waiting for MS to fully abandon tiles before they jump in headfirst and claim they invented it or improved upon it.
  • I agree. The start menu is a terrible downgrade. The Windows 10 start menu is fantastic for organizing applications, with tile groups, tile folders and different tile sizes, and the all apps list is immediately accessible. What's in this screenshot is the laziest, most useless design imaginable - just a grid of icons, it appears to be able to fit fewer apps, and the all apps list is a further click away. It reminds me of Android.
  • I have tablet mode on my Surface. I really hope there is still tablet mode.
  • No tablet mode. The OS is now better optimized for tablet/touch use.
  • Ugh, I'll take these touch improvements over W10 tablet mode any day of the week.
  • Looks like Samsung version of Android
  • Oneui looks 10 times better than this
  • So annoying!! Leaks are a total joy killer... Now I will keep my eyes shut until the 24th...
  • Why do they keep copying Apple and Android?
  • LOL. Are you saying that Apple and Android came up with the same design idea at the same time? Or Both copied flat design from Metro Design and rounded the corner like windows 7?
  • "Why do they keep copying Apple and Android?" Because Apple and Android are successful. Next question?
  • Please correct me if I'm wrong but when Windows 10 came out didn't Microsoft announce there would be no more name changes, the name Windows 10 would last forever?
  • No, Microsoft executives (the ones who actually call the shots) never said that.
  • Thank you Zac for this sneak peek into Windows 11. Does the Taskbar still support Toolbars? And can you pin to start documents? Or are you restricted to just pinning apps? The touch improvements and not differentiating with tablet mode look incredibly clean. It takes two OSs from Apple to approach this (e.g. macOS and iPadOS). I'm also interested in knowing the minimum installation requirements. Would like to know if my Surface Go 1 will support it.
  • "Does the Taskbar still support Toolbars?" VERY good question. I use the Quicklaunch Toolbar, and thus have not used the Start Menu for 20 years. Start Menu is clumsy and slow.
  • For me it looks way better then Windows 10
  • I like it. It looks great and modern, and something I will appreciate on a tablet or PC. However, I just realized that I'm addicted to putting my apps into folders for grouping. It just makes it easier for me to find an app when its in a category folder. I hope they add that.
  • I like it, Windows finally looks modern.
  • I expected much more because of Terry Myerson's statement (Windows 10 would be the last Windows) back then. I think Windows 11 will be a nice OS, but not a breakthrough, nor a major revamp.
  • I am angry—again. I am one of the hardcore Microsoft supporters who swallowed hard when MS canceled 1) Windows phone, 2) Cortana, 3) Windows X (I love the form factor of the Surface X and purchased two!). Each of these endeavors was groundbreaking but were suddenly surrendered by Microsoft, allowing firms like Amazon and Apple to take predominance where Microsoft initially ruled. Now, they want to cancel live tiles, which is the major factor differentiating MS from the fruity people. I use my live tiles daily—just a touch of the start button provides several sets of news, my most recent emails, and more with one glance. MICROSOFT: LET'S NOT RETURN TO 1980!
  • I know dude, I am on the same page. Big fan of live tiles and Metro UI - still listening to music on my ZuneHD when I am around and using my old Lumia 800 to stream music in my house.
    This new interface is disgusting. It has no sense. Nothing has a sense. MS really lost the way.
    This new UI makes me remember to some old builds of Vista. Let's go back in time to 20 years ago.
    And what about the banner in the settings app? Which takes 1/3 of screen? Horrid.
  • I'm with you 100% I'd say Microsoft had other ground breaking ideas as well, Kinect is one that comes to mind. Microsoft is lazy. They remind me of kids that are only followers and only care what others think about them. Sure they may create a great idea but as soon as someone says something negative they quit. They seem to only hire people who came from google. I despise the move to co-opt Android look. My main computer still runs 8.1. At least to me it's the best version of Windows ever created. I love when I turn it on all my Live tiles provide instant information from news, weather, email, sports, music, etc. I'm with you when you state "... LET'S NOT RETURN TO 1980!". My first first thought when I saw Windows 11 was "Back to the Future". This is old stuff just re-imagined. Just like Android is a old looking OS so is iOS. But Microsoft is so scared of being called names they'd rather follow than be leaders. Oh well.
  • It's simply horrid. More non sense than the current UI.
    And that **** new start menu...
    HORRID HORRID HORRID.
  • The centred taskbar, the rounded corners, the absolutely useless pseudo-Start menu, the grey everywhere...looks absolutely disgusting. I'm not installing this garbage. It makes sense to call it Windows 11, though. For consistency and predictability sake. Windows XP - Good.
    Windows Vista - Bad.
    Windows 7 - Good.
    Windows 8 - Bad.
    Windows 10 - Good.
    Windows 11 - Bad.
  • Windows 8 and windows 10 with full start screen looked incredible on a 32"-50" touchscreen monitor.
    I attached my old 32" tv onto my old HTPC, added a usb touchframe to it, got ultra-sensitive mics for cortana and boom! I thought I was living the jetsons life. Then Windows 10 came. Slide-scrolling was gone, but ok at least full-screen start was still there.
    Then cortana can no longer play music, lock the screen, integrate with spotify or other apps, and could only basically do alarms and scheduling. Fine, I'll just do it manually. At least the screen still looks great and futuristic on my large screen tv. Then I saw windows 11 today. And Oh boi, I cant help but cry. It's ok-ish for small tablets and laptops I guess. But it would totally look like garbage on my larger screen. Too much empty space. Not enough flair. GAhd I hope there's a modernized full startscreen somewhere there. Or maybe it's built on composable shell and the UI changes depending on the screen size and use-case which means there's a different layout for largescreen tvs? Please? Sob Sob cry cry, my poor pc setup.
  • New snap control is good. Rounded corner is good. New wallpapers are good. Don't like them giving up love tile to a icon base start menu which we can pin icon at task bar already, especially when iOS is following the widget finally, not a good timing to ditch the live tiles.
  • start menu has little space not at the most left (when set to Left alignment) 😫
  • I can only imagine how much faster and more productive those rounded corners and taskbar changes are going to make my ssh term/spreadsheet/pdf reading tasks. Can I expect visual changes to cut an hour off my work every day so I can be more productive? Or, is this a nightmare waiting to happen when vendor admin tools don't work with win11 until they are upgraded?
  • Wallpaper is good, setup screen is good.
    Start menu is disaster, rounded corners dont look polished for some reason.
    Widgets look like a ripoff from other os.
    Lets hope they atleast make windows store more usable.
  • Microsoft needs to stop copying Apple. OS version 11 (after saying 10 was the last iteration), centered taskbar, centered Start menu with rows of dumb icons instead of Live Tiles, rounded window corners, widgets, etc. Windows 10X/11 is just a rip-off of macOS Big Sur. Just look here to see the "future" of Windows: https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F2Fc%2F2...
  • LOL. Have you heard about Gnome 40 and elementary OS Linux distros? Go and check them out and delete your comment.
  • I like what I see but was expecting a lot more. - The wallpapers are really nice (and neutral) and demonstrate care about the overall appearance of the OS
    - The rounded corners are great - takes away the clunky look of Windows 10 but without going to extremes like Big Sur has done.
    - New setup dialogs are nice But to justify the Windows 11 name, I was expecting a new File Explorer. As it stands, having that dated Ribbon toolbar inside a more modern looking OS just looks wrong. After all these redesigns and concepts we've seen over the years, can't believe nothing has changed. Is the File Explorer code a complete mess and it can't be effectively reworked?
  • I am very disappointed because this time i was really hyped for something coming from Microsoft
    Lets hope the Event makes up for it, i think they will announce a more
    Polished, refined and better finished product in the event.
  • Yes. The more I think about it, a file manager is a major feature of any (desktop) OS, and surely they won't want to demo this. Hopefully this is an out-of-date build and there's more to come. If so, it's looking like the best Windows release in years. I had a feeling Panos taking control would make a big difference.
  • Looks like a refined Windows Desktop. Clean and minimalist which is nice. I use TaskBarX anyway, so the option for a centred taskbar is nice - I seriously don't care that 'Apple does centred', it's not as if Apple doesn't copy from everyone else anyway, so mimicking Apple here really isn't worth the exhibition of prepubescent angst some people are throwing on. It's also clearly not finished. I think people can hold off on the hysteria, faux or otherwise, for a while.
  • I, for one, really like what I see so far. For me, these UI changes represent long overdue polishing and refinement of the Windows experience.
    Also, I really like the fact that they are incorporating a lot of the 10X niceties into Windows 11. I always wanted that to happen, because I liked the look and feel of 10X renders, but I didn't want 10X itself (to me, a ChromeOS imitator that was doomed to fail).
    I also think these changes are evidence of Panos Panay, now leading Windows along with Surface, putting his attention to detail into Windows that he's done with the Surface products (I'm on my 3rd Surface, a Laptop Go, which I love). I think it's also evidence that Nadella has woken up to the need to give some TLC to Windows, and user experiences overall. Of course, Nadella has kicked butt in Cloud and Enterprise, and allowed Xbox to continue on a healthy path. But he's been a disaster for Windows. But this is changing. Hopefully, he sees the long game, where Windows is a robust business unto itself, and it helps feed the other (more lucrative) businesses. So it needs some love.
    Things I like so far:
    1. Centered start button (adjustable back to left, if user wants).
    2. Rounded corners
    3. New, polished, icons
    4. No Live Tiles, something that really works best in a Mobile environment, not so much on desktop.
    5. Live Tiles replaced by desktop widgets - far more useful and functional on a desktop.
    6. Great new wallpapers that look really polished.
    7. Better dark theme implementation.
    8. Nice menu transparency
    9. Forthcoming update of Windows store, allowing all types of Windows apps (plus project unity, combining Win32 with UWP and PWA), and allowing developers to use their own commerce infrastructure. This will help, tremendously with the Windows app ecosystem. And this is an early leak. I suspect we'll see more during the announcement on the 25th, and even more upon official release in October. And regarding changing the version to 11 - I'm fine either way. Yeah, perhaps they're overhyping what is essentially a UI update. But why not (and better still, who cares)? Companies aren't doing their job if they don't overhype their wares. ;) :D All in all, I look forward to upgrading in October (or sometime after that, while bugs are worked out).
  • Lipstick on a pig. Until project reunion is successful and later Microsoft is able to eliminate win32 with all new APIs. It is just marketing and something new to play with, which is fine. Just that more gains will be made for Windows with a complete replacement of win32.
  • LOL. I guess you don't know what's win32 and APIs is
  • What happened to the fluent design language? The light effects, the acrylic transparency... Um I loved that design language and it looks like it's being abandoned before even having been properly explored. My wish list is:
    -smooth UI animation and effects.
    -faster load-in
    -better local search
    -vastly improved explorer with tools like color marking ect like mac
    -prettier menus and popups
    -better music control menu
    - less overall jank
  • This is not a "new operating system". It is a new version of the same OS that we have been using for 25 years. As such, it is way too little and WAY too late. As for your little poll here, can I write in "Don't Care"?
  • Windows 11 goes in the right direction, but Explorer.exe is still there...need to get rid of it
  • I'm not convinced by this New W11. I really hope MS will introduce a better version on 24th June.
    For example, during the installation you still have this ridiculous option :
    Send information : "Yes" or "No"
    and you have 2 choices : "Learn More" or "Accept". That mean if you Select "No" you have to click on "Accept" to continue the settings.
    WTF???
  • Some of the changes to touch is, well, not that great. Swiping from the left brings up Widgets, rather than Task View, the latter of which I use far more often. Instead, I have to swipe down with three fingers to brink up Task View, which is difficult to do when I am holding my Surface Pro with two hands. While, again, holding the Surface Pro with two hands, it is difficult to hit the start button and navigate the start menu. (Note that while it is possible to move the start button and start menu to the left, I want to test the default experience.) Dragging a window from the top to the bottom no longer closes the window, which is something that was in tablet mode, but the gesture is now unavailable since tablet mode is gone.
  • Absolutely Love it , after trying it out on Virtual Machine