Leaks of what appears to be a build of Windows 11 have begun circulating the web in the last 24 hours, piquing interest, curiosity and criticism from users around the world.
The leaks come barely a week before the operating system's suspected preview on June 24. Screenshots of the upcoming OS were posted on Chinese social media site Baidu. Not long after, a download link emerged on forums and social media — and according to The Verge, the build in this link is legit.
The screenshots paint a picture of a sleeker, more minimalist interface. The familiar Start button and taskbar looks to have made the cut, but now it's centred at the bottom of the screen.
Another significant change is the Start menu itself: no longer relegated to the left side of the screen; instead, it dominates the centre, abandoning the familiar top-to-bottom rectangle in favour of a square box (although this can be moved to the left for the Windows diehards).
The menu includes pinned apps, recent files, and the ability to quickly shut down or restart Windows 11 devices. They're all icons too — no more detailed labels.
According to Engadget, to see apps beyond the recommended and pinned ones, users will need to click the ‘all apps' button to see the rest of the Start menu.
Analysts have compared it to the scrapped Windows 10X OS, which Microsoft canned last month. This operating system was planned to mesh with dual-screen devices like the Surface Neo — but then the pandemic hit, and Microsoft scrambled to repurpose it for single-screened laptops. The Verge initially reported that Microsoft planned to bring elements of Windows 10X into Windows 10 — now, it seems features were instead ported to its successor.
Another added feature is a mechanism whereby users can snap windows into place without dragging them. Engadget reports suggest Windows 11 adds a dropdown of potential ‘snapping' locations when hovering over the maximise icon in the title bar.
Window corners have also been slightly rounded, a small but noticeable change from its predecessors' tight corners. A new startup chime greets users on opening, and other interface sounds have also been added.
Widgets are back, with a new Widgets button that appears to the right of the Task View button. In the leaked build, clicking the button brings up the Windows Dashboard, where widgets appear over open applications windows or the desktop.
Dark mode has also been introduced, bringing the popular feature into Microsoft's flagship OS.
While most of the content of the Baidu leaks appear to be cosmetic, more information about the nuts and bolts of the operating system is sure to become public knowledge in next week's briefing.