Windows updates will soon bring a facelift
Ever since Microsoft released Windows 10 – which was, astonishingly, all the way back in mid-2015 – the company has resisted the urge to shift to Windows 11, or indeed any other full “update” to Windows over that time. That’s a long time in the Windows world; after all, the predecessor version of Windows 10, Windows 8 only had an effective 3 year shelf life before being replaced.
The desire to stick to Windows 10 has very much been a deliberate strategy, with Microsoft announcing at the time Windows 10 launched that the intent was that Windows 10 would be the “final” release of Windows, but one that it would update over time to meet security needs and feature changes.
One of the ways that Microsoft tests out new features and changes is by periodically releasing updated versions of Windows 10 to what it calls its “Windows Insiders”. Pretty much anyone can be a Windows Insider – you can sign up at https://insider.windows.com/en-us/ if you’re particularly keen – but it’s worth bearing in mind that what you’re signing up for are updates ahead of schedule that may or may not come to market, and may have unrealised bugs in the software. Essentially you’ve got to be keen to see what’s new and upcoming in Windows, while ideally not running the preview builds on your only PC, because there is the possibility of inbuilt bugs along with the new features. That’s very much the nature of software, and the key market for the Insiders program are those who are willing to put up with a few inconvenient bumps along the way.
In return, however, they get early insight into where Windows is going, and right now, it appears that we’re in the middle of a bit of a Windows facelift.
Specifically, Microsoft is changing up the icons used for a number of familiar Windows applications as it seeks to freshen up its look. It’s a process that’s been underway for some time; as Microsoft itself notes in the release notes for the latest Windows Insider Build, it’s already looked into changing the Notepad, Windows Security and Narrator icons.
Next in line as of the latest build will be the icons for the drives on a given PC, as well as the recycle bin icon. It’s part of Microsoft’s aim to keep Windows 10 looking and feeling “fresh”, although of course updated builds will also have a slew of security and performance upgrades under the hood as well. Those are a little tougher to quantify across the many PCs that run Windows 10, however.
It’s an interesting balancing act for Microsoft, however. While it’s not changing the way that (for example) the Recycle Bin works, changing its look can somewhat upset a computer user’s expectation around where it is and what it looks like.
We all tend to rely on this kind of muscle memory when using our computers, and change like that can be confronting.
Microsoft hasn’t yet committed to when these design changes will come through to regular Windows Updates – and it’s possible if the outcry from the Windows Insider community is loud enough it may scale back its ambitions somewhat – but they’re likely to make their way to the wider Windows community in time.
New icons aren’t really a reason to update Windows in an of themselves, but it’s always wise to keep your Windows installation up to date to ensure that you’re secure against the wide array of security threats that target the world’s most popular operating system.