Windows 11 update aka Sun Valley update is the next major update for Windows 10 targeted at October 2021. In fact this release will be officially called Windows 11 October 2021 update or Windows 11 version 21H2. On this page, we have collated all the probable changes and new features Windows 11 update aka Sun Valley update may bring.

Just keep in mind that not all of the features and changes listed on this page may make it to the final release build of Windows 11 update aka Sun Valley update. You can bookmark this page to refer back to see the collated changelog for Windows 11 update aka Sun Valley update. We will keep it updated with new features as and when they are leaked or released.

Windows 11 version 21H2 update: Release Date

Windows 11 update aka Sun Valley update has RTMed in July 2021. This will be followed by a public release on October 05, 2021, as confirmed by Microsoft officially now. New Windows 10 PC users will get the update in October 2021 if they seek it but most of other existing Windows 10 PCs will get it starting 2022 if they meet the minimum requirements.

Windows 11 download (ISO download) & minimum requirements

You can click here to download the official Windows 11 ISO images if you want to install it on your Windows 10 PCs. Just keep in mind that Microsoft recommends installing Windows 11 on only those PCs that meet the minimum requirements.

Windows 11 Wallpapers download

32 Windows 11 wallpapers in high-quality. Yes, these 32 wallpapers include touch keyboard theme wallpapers too.

You can click here to go to the folder (Via) and download all of them and get a feeling of Windows 11 on your Windows 10 machine.

This collated Windows 11 full and massive changelog is divided in three sections:

  • Windows 11 version 21H2 update all new features & changes
  • Windows 11 Insider build changes & new features
  • Leaked/Teased Windows 11 features

Windows 11 version 21H2 update all new features & changes

Windows 11 Start screen UI changes, rounded corners:

Windows 11 is the marriage of Windows 10X UI with Windows 10. The default start screen is very similar to the Windows 10X start screen (Check the feature image above). Here is your first look at Windows 11 start screen and other updated UI elements like context sensitive menus. Rounded corners are here with Windows 11. If you don’t like the centered start screen UI, you can move it to left to get the traditional Windows 10 start screen.

Windows 11 Action Center & Settings UI:

These screenshots reveal how the Windows 11 Action Center and Settings UI have changed. Both look quite pretty in the new Windows 11 avatar.

Windows 11 Setup experience:

Even the setup looks very similar to Windows 10X setup experience. Check the screenshots below providing first look at the Windows 11 OOBE experience.

Windows 11 File explorer:

Windows 11 packs a revamped File explorer with a modern and cleaner look with new UI design elements. Once you start playing with the new File explorer you will notice visual changes like,

  • All new and fresh icons are seen everywhere, even in options.
  • Revamped top bar with shiny new icons for actions like New item, cut, copy, paste, rename, share, delete and menu icons for arrangement/sorting options, layout options and general options.
  • The layout options in the Windows 11 File explorer house many advanced options including compact view, preview page, navigation pane, details pane. You can also add item check boxes if you need them.
  • The context menu has changed too and you can check the demo to see it in action
  • Though Microsoft has not drastically changed the basic File explorer structure, the overall user experience has been improved with the interface changes.

Windows 11 three taskbar sizes:

Windows 11 will have option to enable three taskbar sizes just like Windows 10X. The taskbar sizes are mentioned as: Small, Medium/Default and Large. Check the images below that show the small and large taskbar sizes.

In case you have already installed the leaked build and want to know how to change taskbar size, here is how you can do it.

To change your taskbar size, use this registry key: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced  TaskbarSi With the following values: 0 = Small 1 = Medium / Default 2 = Large

Windows 11 multitasking improvements:

Windows 11 seems to have snapped a cool new way to multitask with many Windows. It is easy to snap the Windows with options popping up with just a hover over the maximize button. Check the screenshot below that shows the new multitasking method of Windows 11.

Windows 11 brings Snap layouts and Snap groups with two columns for easier multitasking. Now, in a document Microsoft has explained that the Snap layout on larger displays (larger than 24 inches and at 1920 effective pixels) will have Snap layouts with 3 columns of zones. The displays smaller than 24 inches will have Snap layouts with 2 columns of zones. The Snap Layouts can be invoked either by hovering on the maximize button or by doing Win + Z.

Focus sessions:

Microsoft has now provided first look at one more upcoming Windows 11 feature known as “Focus sessions”. The new feature termed as “game-changer” by Panos Panay comes with Spotify integration, it seems.

Panos Panay today posted another tweet that has a short video demoing the Windows 11 Focus sessions feature. It seems that Focus sessions will provide user a time-window to focus and accomplish a task on-hand without interruptions. It will options to have or skip any breaks. With Spotify integration one may be able to enjoy any desired music that may help in boosting productivity.

Check the short first look video below.

Animated lock-screen background:

Windows 11 supports animated lock-screen background on PCs that have accelerometer. The setting to enable this feature is still work in development as the toggle appears with a blank space in place of description. This toggle is only available for PCs with accelerometer. So, if your PC supports the feature you can go to Settings–>Personalization–>Lock screen and enable the toggle without any text.

Archive apps:

The Archive apps feature can be toggled on and off. When enabled it will archive apps not used frequently to save storage space and internet bandwidth. Though files and other data for archived apps will be saved and not deleted. If you happen to use an archived app by chance in future, it will connect to the internet to restore app’s full version.

Start icons & folders:

You can change which icons including Computer, Recycle Bin, Network, User’s Files and Control Panel will appear on the Desktop of your Windows 11 PC. Head over to the personalization settings to make changes.

You can also decide which folders appear next to the power button on Start. Options include Settings, File explorer and others.

Battery graphs:

Windows 11 brings beautiful and quite functional Battery usage graphics.

Aero Shake toggle:

Coming to the Aero Shake toggle here is what the feature does. If you toggle the Aero shake on and grab a Windows’s title bar and shake it, it will minimize all other windows.

Device usage:

Microsoft will offer tips, tools and services based on how you intend to use your PC. You can choose the options in Personalization.

Paste as plain text:

If you open clipboard history by using (WIN + V) and click the … button next to any text-based entry in your clipboard history – you will now see a “Paste as plain text” option alongside pin and delete. When you use this action in clipboard history, it pastes the text content of the clipboard without its original formatting (font, color, size etc.), allowing it to match the formatting of the destination document.

New store experience:

Windows 11 and Windows 10 both will get a new Microsoft store experience. Not only the store has a revamped look, but Microsoft has also partnered with Amazon to bring Android apps and games to Windows. Here are the major store changes in the words of Microsoft.

  • Get introduced to the best apps and games with curated stories and collections

We want the Microsoft Store to be the place to get all your favorite apps – including the ones you haven’t heard about…yet!  We are introducing Stories, rich editorial content to keep you informed about the best apps and inspire you to achieve more with your device.

  • Run your favorite Android mobile games and apps on Windows

We also announced a partnership with Amazon to bring their catalog of Android apps and games to Windows. Windows customers will be able to discover Android apps in the Microsoft Store, and acquire them through the Amazon Appstore.

  • A “pop-up” store that helps install apps from the web

With the new pop-up store, we are making it easy to install apps from the browser; when you click a Microsoft Store download badge on a web page, the Microsoft Store will pop up to manage the install – without pulling you away from what you were doing.

Windows 11 Gestures & Windows re-sizing animation demo:

Short videos shared on Twitter demo the new Windows 11 touch gestures and Windows resizing animations. Touch gestures look nice but may help more refinement. The Windows resizing animations look really neat, however.

 Windows 11 Meet & Chat button:

There will be a button called Meet & Chat in the taskbar (just like Search or Dashboard) that will launch Microsoft Teams it seems.  There is no such button so far in the leaked build but code digging reveals that Microsoft may enable this Meet & Chat button in future builds.

Windows 11 Wake on Touch:

Windows 11 supports a setting for “Wake on Touch” similar to the Windows Mobile 10 feature. This will allow the PC running Windows 11 to wake up only after touching the screen. 

Windows 11 multi-monitor improvements:

Windows 11 brings two long-awaited multi-monitor improvements. “Remember window locations based on monitor connection” and “Minimize windows when a monitor is disconnected” are new multi-monitor improvements that Windows 11 users will be able to use.

Windows 11 update official demo/intro video:

Windows 11 Insider build changes & new features

  • We’re introducing the new Microsoft 365 Widget! This widget brings relevant documents, news and meeting recordings (with more to come!) to enterprise users. This widget will only be available if you are signed in with your AAD account on your PC running Windows 11. In a time when information overload is a major concern for most workers, this personalized list will help users stay on top of their work and find the information they need with ease. To check it out just open widgets and click the “Add Widgets” button and select the Microsoft 365 Widget. We hope you love it!
The new Microsoft 365 widget, with “you frequently open this” and “trending” files.
The new Microsoft 365 widget, with “you frequently open this” and “trending” files.

Snipping Tool

The new Snipping Tool icon in Windows 11.

In Windows 11, both the classic Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch apps have been replaced by a new Snipping Tool app that represents the best experiences of both apps in the next evolution of screen capture for Windows.

The new visuals for the Snipping Tool in Windows 11.

The new visuals for the Snipping Tool in Windows 11.

The Snipping Tool for Windows 11 includes new visuals that build off the classic app with added functionality like the WIN + SHIFT + S keyboard shortcut from Snip & Sketch and richer editing. We’re also introducing a new settings page for Snipping Tool.

Taking a screenshot is super easy using the WIN + SHIFT + S keyboard shortcut! This will bring up the snipping menu with options to choose from including Rectangular Snip, Freeform Snip, Windows Snip, and Fullscreen Snip.

The snipping menu with snip options.

The snipping menu with snip options.

Note: If you have notifications turned off or Focus Assist on, you will not receive a notification pop-up after taking a screenshot. Your screenshot will still be copied to your clipboard, however. This will be fixed in a future update.

Once you’ve taken a screenshot, Snipping Tool provides editing tools for annotations, improved cropping, and more to edit your screenshots how you want.

Editing tools including for annotations, improved cropping, and more to edit your screenshots how you want.

Editing tools including for annotations, improved cropping, and more to edit your screenshots how you want.

And finally, Snipping Tool now honors your Windows theme! If you’re theme is dark mode, Snipping Tool will appear in dark mode! You can also choose which theme independently via the new settings page for Snipping Tool.

The Snipping Tool in dark mode.

The Snipping Tool in dark mode.

Try out the new Snipping Tool on Windows 11 and send in any feedback you have via Feedback Hub. We’re looking forward to future updates to Snipping Tool to address your feedback!

Calculator

The Calculator app icon.

The Calculator app now has a beautiful new look for Windows 11! It also includes a new app theme setting (just like Snipping Tool!) so that you can set the app in a theme different from Windows. Calculator has been rewritten in C# so that more people can contribute to it on GitHub!

Calculator app in dark mode with new Windows 11 visuals.

Calculator app in dark mode with new Windows 11 visuals.

Besides these, the Calculator app is packed with useful features. It’s the perfect tool to help you complete your math homework, manage your finances, plot, and analyze equations on a graph, and evaluate algebra, trigonometry, and complex math expressions!

  • Simple and easy to use standard calculator for all the basics, and a powerful scientific calculator for more complex math.
  • Programmer Mode offers rich functionality that is essential for programming and engineering.
  • Plot one or more equations in graphing mode and then analyze the graph to help identify key graph features, like the x- and y- intercepts.
  • Convert between more than 100 different units and currencies.
Graphing in the Calculator app.

Graphing in the Calculator app.

As always, we’d love to hear from you, so please let us know what you think about the latest update!

Mail & Calendar

Mail app icon.

Calendar app icon.

Mail and Calendar are updated with a new visual style! We have added rounded corners and other adjustments to make them look and feel part of Windows 11.  As before, Mail and Calendar can reflect your Windows theme so you can send emails and check your schedule using the theme you prefer. Check it out!

Mail app with new Windows 11 visuals in dark mode.

Mail app with new Windows 11 visuals in dark mode.
Calendar app with new Windows 11 visuals in light mode.

Calendar app with new Windows 11 visuals in light mode.

We look forward to releasing even more updates to the apps that come in Windows 11 for you to enjoy!

  • We are introducing a new Family widget for MSA accounts! It is available in all Windows languages and regions. It allows you to see recent activity from members of your Microsoft family group.
The new Family widget allows you to see recent activity from members of your Microsoft family group.

The new Family widget allows you to see recent activity from members of your Microsoft family group.
  • We are beginning to rollout notification badging for the Chat icon on the Taskbar. Not everyone will see it right away at first.
  • Made some adjustments to improve how the close button looks like in the Taskbar preview windows.
  • When changing backgrounds for Desktops, even if Settings is already open, using Choose Background via Task View will now force Settings to move to whichever Desktop you’re actually on.
  • Moved the Identify button in Display Settings to be right under the control for arranging your monitors (when you have multiple monitors connected) so it’s easier to find.
  • We’ve updated File Explorer’s context menu to be a little more compact for mouse users.
  • Updated the “New” button in the File Explorer’s command bar to use a dropdown menu style with all options in one list instead of a nested list.
  • We’ve made some adjustments to improve the use of space and thumbnail sizes within ALT + Tab, Task View and snap assist.
The hidden icons flyout on the Taskbar has been updated with the new Windows 11 visuals.

The hidden icons flyout on the Taskbar has been updated with the new Windows 11 visuals.
  • We added the ability to quickly access Focus assist settings directly from Notification Center.
You can quickly access Focus assist settings directly from Notification Center.

You can quickly access Focus assist settings directly from Notification Center.
  • When a background activity from an app requires attention, the app will flash on the Taskbar to get your attention. In Windows 11, we have updated this design so that it still grabs your attention but with a calming treatment that minimizes the impact of unwarranted distractions. The subtle flashing eventually stops, and you will see a slightly red backplate and red pill under the app icon continuing to note a background activity needs your attention. Let us know what you think!
Slightly red backplate of app icon and red pill under the icon signify a background activity needs your attention.

Slightly red backplate of app icon and red pill under the icon signify a background activity needs your attention.
  • The touch keyboard icon in the Taskbar has been adjusted to be more consistent with the size of the other icons in the corner of the Taskbar.
  • The Taskbar calendar flyout will now fully collapse down when clicking the chevron in the top corner to give you more room for notifications.
  • In the latest Microsoft Store update rolling out to Insiders, we made navigation in our new Microsoft Store feel fast and fun. When you select an app or movie you’re interested in, you might notice some animations that help you keep track of what you’re browsing. Give it a try, we hope you like it as much as we do.

New animations in Microsoft Store that help you keep track of what you're browsing.

New animations in Microsoft Store that help you keep track of what you’re browsing.

  • We’re introducing a new entertainment widget! The entertainment widget allows you to see new and featured movie titles available in the Microsoft Store. Selecting a movie will direct you to the Microsoft Store to see more information about that title. Just open widgets and click or tap on the “Add widgets” button and choose the entertainment widget.
The new entertainment widget gives you quick access to featured moved titles in the Microsoft Store.

The new entertainment widget gives you quick access to featured moved titles in the Microsoft Store.
  • The new context menus and other right-click menus have been updated to use acrylic material.
The new Windows 11 context menus before acrylic and after.

The new Windows 11 context menus before acrylic and after.
  • We are testing the usability of a SplitButton for making new folders and files in the File Explorer command bar.
  • The Taskbar previews (when you mouse-over open apps on the Taskbar) have been updated to reflect the new visual design of Windows 11.

Taskbar previews with rounded corners!

Taskbar previews with rounded corners!

  • Start now has a search box to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

  • Taskbar will now show across multiple monitors which can be enabled via Settings > Personalization > Taskbar.

  • We have updated several system alert dialog boxes such as the alert for when the battery is running low on your laptop or when you change your display settings with the new Windows 11 visual design.

  • The ‘Power mode’ settings are now available on the Power & battery page in Settings.

  • Right clicking the desktop now directly has a Refresh option without needing to click “Show more options”.

  • Right clicking a .ps1 file in File Explorer now directly has a Run with PowerShell options without needing to click “Show more options”.

  • Available snap layouts when using smaller PCs in portrait orientation have been optimized for that posture. You can now choose to snap three apps on top of each other, instead of four quadrants.

  • Based on the collaboration with the most popular GIF provider in China, weshineapp.com, GIF selections are now available for Windows Insiders in China via the emoji panel (WIN + .). If the location is set as China, then GIF data will appear from weshineapp.com.

  • Right-clicking on the volume icon in the taskbar now includes an option to troubleshoot sound problems.

Leaked/Teased Windows 11 features

Disabling Recommended section :

Windows 11 comes with a brand-new Start Menu with two sections: Pinned apps and Recommended. The recommended section has received mixed reviews with many not accepting its prominent place on the Start menu.

Now, if code digging leading to disabling of the recommended section by a Redditor has to be taken into account, it seems Microsoft is already working to make it an optional feature. The Redittor in question has debugged “StartMenuExperienceHost.exe” in the Windows 11 insider build 22000.120. He found some new options that allow to hide the recommended section of Start Menu.

The below image shows how the Start Menu looks like once you hide the recommended section. It is in fact a welcome change desired by many insiders who wanted to ditch recommendations.