Windows 11 with new UX confirmed in a leak, ahead of Microsoft's June 24 announcement

Windows 11 Logo
Windows 11 Logo (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A build of Microsoft's next-gen Windows OS has leaked in public forums.
  • Windows Central can confirm that this is Windows 11, including the new branding.
  • The OS features a new UX that recalls the layout and design of Windows 10X – an OS that Microsoft has since abandoned but folded into Windows desktop.
  • Windows 11 is to be revealed in its entirety on June 24th at 11 AM ET by Microsoft.

A build of Microsoft's upcoming next version of Windows, now confirmed to be Windows 11, has leaked onto the web just days before the company is expected to unveil the OS at a dedicated event. The leak has confirmed that the "Windows 11" branding is accurate and has revealed Microsoft's brand new desktop UI along with other changes and enhancements to the OS.

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The build in question is 21996 from the co_release branch and is a near-final build of the OS. Additionally, Windows Central can confirm that the release is legitimate. The OS features a Windows 10X-style centered UI with a new Start menu design and animated Start button.

It also featured rounded app windows, a modern design for context menus, new sounds, and a new setup experience. The build also includes new default wallpapers, and a new "widgets" panel for the calendar, news, weather, and more.

Windows11 Startleak

Source: MDL (Image credit: Source: MDL)

Microsoft is expected to unveil Windows 11 on June 24th at 11 AM ET. The event is going to be streamed on the web and is open to all to watch.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and CPO Panos Panay have both referred to the next version of Windows as the "next generation" of the platform, with Nadella calling it the "most significant update to Windows of the past decade," suggesting that significant changes are on the cards for Windows.

Read: Windows 11: Release date, price, and everything you need to know

Windows 11 should be a routine update due later in October this year as a free upgrade to all current Windows 10 devices. However, users are likely to have an option to put off the update until a later time. In addition, a secondary branch of Windows 10, possible for enterprise use, is anticipated to coexist for a while to let companies adapt to the new UX at their own time.

Microsoft and its OEM PC partners are apt to launch new hardware later this fall with the latest Windows 11 branding and hardware that embraces the new design and features.

You can read more in "Windows 11 startup sound, UI, wallpapers, and more emerge following leaked build."

We'll be bringing you a complete hands-on video walkthrough as soon as we can.

Thanks for the tip, @WildDreamer95

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Nooooo!!! It'll ruin the surprise :-(
    But still curious to see it though lol!
  • It doesn't look like much of a surprise. It Looks exactly like Windows 10X screenshots we already knew of...
  • I feel the same way. I’m kinda sad it leaked to be honest. We’ve seen it already with 10X, but I don’t know. It still sucks.
  • Same mistake as in windows 8. They want everyone use this tablet crapos. Imo they have good idea to make special windows 10x for small factor devices + educational laptops and have full os for everybody else. Instead they make full windows 10 with windows 10x style and call it windows 11. This seems bad for both desktops and small factors.
  • Have you seen it in operation?
  • Nope, i assume they wear win10 in win10x clothes.
    If they make win10x run win32 and name it win11 hands down, but chances are small.
  • @Jnhffr Sigh... you do realise that W10X did have Win32 support albeit containerised?
  • Product manager and Experience designer. Dust up your CV and hit Redmond to take over.
  • "The build features a MacOS style centered UI with a new Start menu design and animated Start button"
    Thought that was a bit more accurate since 10X has been released on a niche device and not much else
  • I have 10X on a Surface Go, so that's not entirely accurate.
  • Daniel plz tell me this is not the final product,
    Tell me that the Windows 11 is far better and polished then these leaked images MAN I AM SO SAD , Microsoft broken my heart so hard this time
    I was excited like a mad lad
  • "Daniel plz tell me this is not the final product,"
    It's not due until later in October and this is a leak of an internal build. Doesn't that answer your question regarding "not the final product?" Also, Windows is never finished. It's Windows as a Service (WaaS).
  • The bugs are never finished, that's for sure. They keep popping up.
  • The same on iOS, MacOS and Android
  • I edited my comment to better represent the situation
  • Old Design inconsistencies from Windows 10 are still there
    Old win32 stuff is still there
    its nothing major , JUST WINDOWS 10 with rounded corners HOW CAN THEY CALL THIS STUFF Next Gen ?
  • @CocoPizza_2000 leaked internal build, most likely an early internal build at that.
  • It makes sense now the reason why 10X didn’t have acrylic: they removed from WinUI 3. I guess once 3.1 releases they can re-introduce it to the shell as well.
  • Installing it now
  • If you're going to write about this Windows 11X alteast mention live tiles. Thats what we all want to know. The rest is really noise...
    Are they there, is there a way to activate them if disabled?
  • This is all I care about as well.
    I love the live tiles, use them constantly. It's really what will keep me with Win 10 for as long as possible if they pull them out of Win 11.
  • Its ridiculous. I might do that but even if you keep it, I suspect they'll break them with forced updates. Its not like the well kept 8.1 for media centre. Tiles depend on developer
  • "at least mention live tiles"
    💀LIVE TILES ARE DEAD💀 There. (Opinion piece: I'm so glad they're dead).
  • Thanks dan. No mercy.
  • But I really love them. At least keep them as an option.
    To me, it's going backwards making it just the static grid of icons.
    I can't count how many times breaking news, calendar appointments, pc deals etc. have caught my eye thanks to live tiles.
    Really sad to see them go, it's a big loss imho.
  • Agree. No live tiles makes me want to not upgrade to windows 11. I have The start menu in full screen and its where I have every thing set up for me. But this start menu is................... BORING.
  • Well, they say supported till 2025. I'll keep my main machine on Win 10 until then. Maybe Win 12 will be out with live tiles by then.
  • You think they will go back to the huge failure that is Live Tiles? Do you really think a widget with 0 functionality beyond randomly showing images is better than a full featured widget? Really?
  • @bleached that's you opinion and there is no reason why both couldn't exist at the same time. That's the beauty about software, it's extremely malleable.
  • They have actual widgets in Windows 11. They can do everything a Live Tile did and more. There is no need for Live Tiles.
  • Why exactly are you glad? How's this new start menu better than live tiles - which you did not even have to use if you disliked them.
  • Randomly flashing imagines aren’t useful and never will be. They should add real widgets, not watered down Live Tile garbage.
  • Thank you Daniel for being straight to the point. So few developers use them. They've had plenty of time to use them. If they haven't used them yet they're never going to use them. It's time to move on from them.
  • And MS had plenty of time to release the evolution of them , the interactive tiles; instead they let them die and now they are out with in my opinion of course I am not affected by the Napoleon complex, ancient looking solution.
  • They have actual, full featured widgets in Windows 11. Microsoft did evolve Live Tiles.
  • Based on Brad Sim's review of the Windows 11 leak, Live Tiles are gone. Edit: I'm late to the party with this news. Oh well. I'd like to see desktop widgets make a return, but it isn't happening (at least not in this iteration).
  • There's a Widgets Menu in Windows 11
  • Installed it, running it now. Seems faster.
  • when leak india
  • It will be Soon™, at the right time™.
  • Am I the only one who thinks this 10X design seems old-fashioned? Current Windows 10 looks more contemporary than this.
  • I'd say it's more familiar because it looks like a combo of Gnome/ChromeOS/iOS/Android. I think MS wants it to be new, but also familiar to users. Like when you switch from your phone to Windows 11, it'll feel similar. It's a very different direction than "radical new UI" that Windows Phone 7/Windows 8 brought, which stuck out like a sore thumb to everything else. That paradigm worked if Phone/PC/Xbox vision had worked out, but ...
  • Fair enough. File Explorer still looks like a mess though. Should at least offer a different interface for tablets.
  • On a serious note, we need to talk. Are you still a Windows or maybe you'd like to join androidcentral.
    Don't answer that.
  • I've done more, written more, learned more, and talked more about Microsoft and Windows than you could in 10 lifetimes. Just because you have a bizarre love for a UI design from 7 years ago doesn't make you a bigger fan. It could mean, however, you are stuck in the past and refuse to move on with life. Either way, it's an OS. Not life or death. Step outside, take a deep breath.
  • And Windows 11 UI, how old is it?
    Have you used Windows 3.11 Program Manager before... Its from 28 years ago.
    Those blank icons on the second pic... did they erase Netscape Navigator, WordPerfect and Novell Groupwise!!
  • They should add randomly changing images to the icons without any further functionality. Oh wait, they tried that and it was absolutely terrible and resulted in several failed products. You think Microsoft should go for more failures?
  • I read you comments above and you seem to want to make everyone like what you prefer and you actually try to find reasons. That's strange to me, somehow.
  • You might try to understand that quality is always more important than quantity.
    As for the subject of the discussion I, as well as others, might be stuck at an UI design of seven years ago which still seems straight from the Jetsons compared to this mixture of different styles.
  • Sucks for me I hate android. That's why I have square home Launcher on my Surface Duo. And full screen start menu full of Live tiles. Android is yuck.
  • You really like square icons and functionless widgets, huh? Why?
  • Completely agree with you. Current Win10 looks more futuristic than this.
  • Thumb up. Today's win10 start menu can age indefinitely. This Win 10x style start menu is already old like android. Microsoft always has futuristic ideas, although execution was lacking, but this android-ios copycat looking OLD af.
  • So far it's not worth calling it Windows 11. Rather windows 10.1
  • Lol, let's see: New UI/UX (new Start menu, Action Center, centered) New animations New touch experience New icons New sounds No more Live Tiles Widgets Completely new Store New inbox apps New OOBE But sure, the guy not developing the OS thinks it should be 10.1 even though it looks nothing like Windows 10 anymore. Makes total sense.
  • Hopefully there are more under-the-hood features though. Like better default audio drivers and MIDI over Bluetooth.
  • Wow, Daniel, don't be so easily offended! I thought that together with my earlier 'seems faster' comment you'd get the sarcasm.
  • Sorry, as they like to say, sarcasm is lost in text. Also, there are a lot of people who do think that way, which I find rather ... bothersome lol.
  • New icons and rounded corners are not enough to name it new os.
    It is simply halfyear update to win10.
  • So they did finally remove the tiles. So long squares, at least now I won't be reminded of my foolishness in promoting Windows Phone.
  • man you aren't kidding.... the number of people I convinced into buying into the whole Windows10 ecosystem across all of your devices.
  • Usually new versions of windows introduce new feature sets not just a new skin. Is anything else being introduced beyond the visual changes?
  • It'll finally be a decent tablet OS for Surfaces.
  • It is definitely better than Windows 10 on my Surface Pro. Not sure if it is better than ChromeOS though. I think I prefer Chrome on a machine like this.
  • LOL, Let's actually see:
    - half baked UI/UX (ONLY "new", but actually recycled Start menu (that we've already seen in 10X), Action Center, OPTION TO BE centered (and also option not to be centered, so it realistically doesn't even matter))
    - new animations, but only here and there
    - new touch experience
    - literally 0 new icons that we haven't seen before. 0. And only on the surface btw. Again.
    - new sounds, wohoo, I am sure you can find 10 people (outside WC) that will even notice this
    - No more Live Tiles is a great "addition" and "new code", and totally just not deleted old piece. And because Microsoft is so unsure and insecure they left the old Start menu in registry (for now)
    - If by Widgets you mean literally an iframe that displays MSN webpage, ok, widgets sure, whatever you say (and we've also seen that in News and Interests, they just repositioned it...)
    - Completely new Store, let's see how that one will turn out to be
    - New inbox apps? What? Where? the Outlook in a web wrapper only?
    - New OOBE - I am sure somebody even cares or remembers about this one, right after one setup Windows in like 5-10 minutes. Literally 0 impact on OS experience and need to be mentioned, but hey - more bullet points to justify the rebranding opinion It indeed looks NOTHING like W10 anymore. You cannot even tell it's Windows (well you know, right up until you click something and second level appears and stop looking at static screenshot of the desktop, which is not really productive isn't it?) /s
  • @Daniel Rubino - regarding Widgets versus Live Tiles: I thought that MS got rid of Widgets from Vista onwards, because of security issues? Unless these can NOW run under a Kernel controlled Sand-Box of course? I am new to this Windows 11 stuff (long-time Win 10 user) - can anyone point me to a Widget example?
  • without introducing any MAJOR new improvement and features under the hood ?
    without getting rid of old inconsistencies and old metro apps ?
    without showing any Huge Advantage over previous gen of Windows ? How can they call it , Next Gen of Windows ?
    Its just Windows 10 with rounded corners , nothing more than 21H2 update .... and they calling it Windows 11 like its BRAND NEW and AMAZING STUFF ????
    I am so sad and disappointed , i really hope that
    there is more to the story Waiting for the event tho
  • If I change a button from position X to Y in my app, I'm increasing the version/build number not to compare what Microsoft is doing with windows 11.
  • Leaked images show nothing but disappointment
    ITS NOTHING MAJOR to be called a next gen OS They should have called it 21H2 update for WIndows 10 , nothing major
    I expected too much i guess , i am sad now I hope event bring some actual changes and improvements
    OLD win32 inconsistencies are still there , DAMN
  • Is there any way I can get live tiles in windows 11?
  • This is the real question.
  • I'm not ready to abandon live tiles and the start screen yet. But otherwise I love the rounded corners. Finally Windows is contemporary again.
  • Me too, live tiles are really all I care about. Aesthetics are nice and all, but for pure functionality, you can't beat live tiles. I'll just stick with Windows 10 until the live tiles are hopefully back again.
  • What functionality does Live Tiles bring? They have 0 interactivity and cannot do anything beyond flashing random images. How can you claim that Live Tiles have functionality?
  • "I'm not ready to abandon live tiles yet." Substitute "live tiles" with windows 7 and you get what the vast majority of people thought (and many still think) about windows 10.
  • People are excited for this bright, ugly mess of a UX? It looks worse...
  • Taking all the bits about Windows 10 that actually look nice and making it look as ugly as the rest of it is one way to be consistent though, I guess.
  • As long as it's at least consistent, I'll consider it a win
  • The UI looks fine to me. I just hope they use WinUI3's Compact Mode as a default setting throughout all utility redesigns as they're introduced. The biggest gripe I have with Windows 10 is that I'll be using real applications and then I gotta fire up Settings or some other utility that was rebuilt in UWP and surprise, it's needlessly large with too much whitespace, has a garishly ugly left hand vertical menubar that looks nothing like a real application, and designed for a mobile operating system that doesn't even exist anymore. That the Live Tiles are finally going away (it too being a relic from the unsuccessful convergence days) fills me with hope that someone at Microsoft might feel the same.
  • 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.
  • Is there a way to remove this recommended section? It makes the start menu more inconsistent i feel. I would rather just see app icons there. (No live tiles)
  • Heck yes, this looks pretty pleasant. My concerns and extreme hesitation about 10X were about its inability to run real applications without containers or cloud vm+RDP (which if you depend on direct access to hardware and peripherals is certainly *not* something you'd want to hear described as "the future of Windows"). I was already really impressed with their UI and theme work though. It seems to go really well with the beautiful iconography work that's been released over the last year. I love the centered Start and application tray. I have a 43" 4k display as my primary monitor and I fudge something resembling this by using PowerToys' Run (Alt+Space) feature along with an empty toolbar added to the left of my application tray to get it somewhat centered. That new snap assist on hover feature is sweet! I know with multiple monitors it's easy to overshoot flinging a window to a corner only for it to end up on another screen. The decreased movements and smarter UI controls will be a well received update. The rounded corners and increased adoption of non-#fff canvas backgrounds in parts of applications looks really nice compared to the bright neon all white or go home mantra (or worse, black with white text) eye strainer that was Windows 10. The new system sounds seem very influenced by Minecraft. I quite like them. Except for the start up sound, that last ding in it needs to be filtered and EQ'd a bit more to take out the low end from breaking my speakers. The wallpaper work is amazing. I couldn't stand the Hero wallpaper from Windows 10. Whoever has been working on these (and they look similar to the awesome work from the BUILD and pride wallpapers as well, so presumably it's the same person/team) needs a raise. Questions for Zac:
    1) Can you confirm what scaling mode and resolution was shown in the video? I'd be curious to know what native 100% scaling looks like compared to what we have now in Windows 10
    2) Can you confirm if the grabbable window border that's increased for touch is also the same for mouse input? At 100% scaling on a large 4k display, an increased window border grab area would be an amazing feature.
    3) I remember reading about the increased spacing in the left hand menu on File Explorer somewhere. Can that be disabled? I use the Quick Access feature pretty heavily.
  • Widgets question! Can you pin Inbox and other apps in widgets? I would love to see live tiles moved into widgets. The idea of having all the live stuff in one place interests me more than the mess my current start window is.
  • It is not the final product, and I am already loving what I see. This is the Bum...
    Now to put it on a phone, tablet and PC. Truly modern
  • This is super ugly. Why move taskbar in the center? What will happen if I open 10 apps? Will they move on the left or on the right?
    They should have improved windows instead of copying from 10X which is failed.
    Most people just need a list of apps on the side.
    I do hope they improve their default apps as well since those are useless when compared to even web based alternatives.
  • Task bar in the middle is useful if you have ultra-wide monitors. You can change it back as well anyway.
  • Very interesting indeed! I think the June 24th event is supposed to be about an hour; I agree that there will likely be more to show off. Looking at the [old] Store in the video, I am still hopeful that they will preview a new Store at the event.
  • Soo we still have to press a button to open widgets 🤦‍♂️.... is it too much to ask to be able pin the damn things like gadgets lol. That was the problem with the live tiles on the W10 start menu, you had to press a button to see the info that's why people didn't use them. If you are using multiple displays then there these is sufficient screen real estate to be able to pin widgets or livetiles to a dedicated section of a screen. That portion is displayed when windows are snapped and overlapped when the windows are maximised. I am just going to install this new version of Windows 11 in a dedicated virtual machine and see how it goes.
  • Remember back in 2015, when Microsoft told us Windows 10would be "the last version of windows" 😁😆
  • I'm tired of this keep coming up. I think Microsoft's vision for Windows 10 was to continually develop it for eternity. Whilst development has continued, it's not what people wanted & the much maligned operating system has run it's course. So Microsoft have decided to release essentially the same thing with a bit more garnish and call it Windows 11 to distance itself from the train wreck that was Windows 10. I honestly hope this strategy works for Microsoft. More to the point, I hope there's a lot planned for Windows 11 to correct all that was wrong with Windows 10.
  • Windows 10 hasn't been a train wreck. 1.3 billion active users are not train wreck figures. In fact, it's been pretty successful, all things considered. Sure, it's missed the mark a few times...certain features have been a bit rubbish, and the touch screen experience has been awful at times. Personally, I don't know if Microsoft, or Google or Apple, for that matter, will ever crack an operating system that performs well as a touch first tablet and traditional laptop. But overall, Windows 10 hasn't been bad. My reference to W10 being the last version of windows is simply to point out how often Microsoft do this kind of thing. It's like they're banking on users not remembering what they said. The world of Windows and Microsoft is littered with these idiotic marketing mis-steps... Case in point: Satya says they'll build windows phones if no one else will... I don't have an issue with Microsoft deciding to go with a Windows 11 version. Fair play to them. But maybe they should check themselves before coming out with statements to the contrary.
  • Shhh... Let's not leak our hard work
  • Apart from a new Start screen & icons, not a lot appears to have changed. Hopefully there's some later builds that Microsoft will use in their event next week that actually shows some advancements. As it stands with this dev build, it's just lipstick on a pig.
  • Dude show me 1 icon that you haven't seen or even had on your machine before this leak? Just 1, except the start menu logo
  • Looks like W11 will finish the changes started from Vista onwards. Last part was to modularize the UI which I believe is happening in Windows 11. Ideally now start menu and related stuff would be outside of explorer.exe so it can be updated through probably the store.
  • Gosh, there's so much to comment ... Let's start from 2 details:
    - I don't like at all that way to communicate the dismission of important services without saying it clear. Cortana, Live Tiles, Timeline, Office Lens, Onedrive music etc. first "are not going anywhere, we promise", then "we're just restyling them", finally they're gone in silence. They treat us like kids, same thing that happened with windows phone 😡.
    - The Widget panel isn't truly for widgets is it? It seems more like a news feed. Widgets should be open to developers: if they put there an evolution of the live tile notifications to apps 🤞, I'd be less upset for that new start menu. Promises from MS, such as that about the "last version of Windows", are just like those from cellular carriers: "truly forever" :). Nonetheless, I like the name, symbol and the sense of innovation behind it 👍.
    I mean, whenever they mess with the normal sequence of names there's a source of confusion (I remind you the surface pro [5]...). The OS has some good little enhancements, that could have been brought to the current version as well, and several removed functions, e.g. Cortana which has been long neglected (better to get rid of it than to hold a bugged service). Some choice sounds rational to me, like the return to task view 👌, but the key point here is: Microsoft is no more a software influencer, but rather a follower of other platforms! The start menu is too anonymous this way, a bad copy of android home screen 😔. I mean, until a certain point it's right to fit to the current trends and habits, but this way they even accept to loose useful functions and distinctive features just for the sake of conformism.
  • @zac, offline account during set up steps:
    1. click on 'Sign-in options'
    2. click on 'Offline account'
    3. click on 'Limited experience'
    4. Happy days!