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Windows 11 will enable dark mode by default for many PCs [Updated]

Windows 11 Update Checkforupdate Dark
Windows 11 Update Checkforupdate Dark (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows 11 commercial SKUs will ship with dark mode enabled by default.
  • People will be able to switch their PC to light mode if they prefer.
  • Microsoft explains that the switch to dark mode is to ease strain on people's eyes.

Update July 23, 2021 at 1:25 p.m. ET: A Microsoft spokesperson provided the following statement to Windows Central: "We are aware that inaccurate information about Windows 11 shipping in dark mode on by default to all commercial SKUs was recently shared and apologize for the confusion. To clarify, Microsoft will ship Windows 11 SKUs in light mode on by default. However, OEMs can choose to ship their devices in dark mode and customers will have the choice to easily customize their experience in Settings to dark mode or light mode. As with all of our products, we will continue listening to customer feedback to ensure Windows 11 meets customers' needs, wherever they are in their computing journey."

Windows 11's dark mode will be enabled by default for all commercials SKUs of the operating system. People will be able to swtich to light mode easily, but the default setting will be to show dark mode throughout the OS. Microsoft's Melissa Grant mentioned the switch (opens in new tab) during Microsoft Inspire last week.

"Since we're spending so much more time staring at bright screens, not just for endless email, but also countless meetings plus keeping up with our personal lives, to give your eyes a rest, we're going to ship all of the Windows 11 commercial SKUs in that IT favorite, beautiful dark mode, by default," said Grant.

The comment is brief, but if you'd like to see Grant discuss it, you can jump to the 4:32 mark of Microsoft's video.

The full session focuses on hybrid work and how Windows 11 is built for collaboration.

You can already check out the operating system's dark mode by running a Windows 11 Insider preview build. Much like the dark mode of Windows 10, several elements are swapped from bright white to black or grey. The darker colors are easier on the eyes, which can help if you're staring at a screen all day.

Dark mode is quite popular, and Microsoft has rolled it out to several apps and pieces of software, including Windows 10, Windows 11, Microsoft Edge, Office, and most of its mobile apps.

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).

14 Comments
  • Was the default on Windows 10. Till they introduced light mode. Then made light mode default on windows 10 for what purpose? To have it default on windows 11 isn’t anything new really. Since windows 10 had it first.
  • Well, technically not quite, as only the shell was in dark mode by default, while the apps were still in light mode. Sounds like now it will be both.
  • My thoughts too.
  • Yes, at most it was only the Taskbar were dark for example, but the windows remained on light theme before. It would be interesting to see this as a default for Pro and Enterprise if goes through. Theme selection should have been an option during OOBE though. Most people still don't know they have option to select light, dark and customize anything in-between.
  • Techies like it but where's the evidence average users prefer it? It really depends how it's implemented. I like it in Samsung's OneUI but it looks awful in File Explorer so I turn it off.
  • Where's the evidence that the average user prefers light mode? Presumably, they've looked at telemetry and talked to their commercial clients before making this change. It's extremely easy to change, in any case.
  • @Tarkus13 that's a tricky to question given there was no such thing as light or dark mode. Just a high contrast mode from windows 95/98 if i recall correctly. Pretty much all oses shipped in “light mode” until a few years back.
  • I'm an average user and prefer light mode.
  • I'm an average user and prefer dark mode.
  • It would be great if we could program dark mode like we can in Android.
  • ...and in iOS, which offers manually setting the switching time, or automatically based on the local sunrise and sunset times. At this point this seems like standard functionality, I hope MS agrees!
  • They should provide a Dark Mode, then.
    Because what they're about to ship is nothing more than a garbage, ugly, unreadable Grey Mode. I'd be pretty p*ssed if I were to allow Windows 11 to install on any of my devices. Windows 10 barely has a Dark Mode as it is. Windows 11 removes it completely.
  • Light mode is still easier to use in brightly lit rooms or outdoors.
  • If only they let you change it.