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June 16, 2021
☕ Good morning! I meant to pass on I'm reading War and Peace, and that it is a triumph. Only 20% through, though...
10X is 11
windows 11 wallpaper 3

A big Windows 11 leak has dominated the landscape ahead of the expected June 24 launch, via a set of leaks posted to Baidu (via The Verge), including the above swirly wallpaper that seems to be the new default.

This is major because:

  • It seemingly confirmed the Windows 11 title, something that’s been swirling around as near-fact. It was previously codenamed Sun Valley.
  • There’s a leaked ISO of Windows 11 Pro (build 21996) that you can just download and run if you’re super keen, though you’d be recommended to only put it on a virtual machine for now.
  • It’s a big change to what Microsoft has previously said: it had originally talked about Windows 10 as its “final desktop OS,” which would last forever with no end of support, and no “base” changes.
  • Now, Windows 11.

What we’re seeing:

  • Most changes are visual updates, with a UI overhaul here to make Windows feel modern, easy to use, and helpful.
  • Revamps include: a new Start menu and taskbar, new icons in File Explorer, centered app icons, and a cleaner search interface, along with rounded window corners.
  • There’s a lot of simplification, and the install process is reported to be easier, with less Cortana and no Microsoft account required.
  • But we also see that changes aren’t exactly wide-ranging. Legacy elements remain: the old Control Panel, Device Manager, and other Microsoft Management Console apps, which largely haven’t been touched since Windows XP (At least it makes troubleshooting guides from 2012 still useful though, right?).
  • There aren’t any changes to the Home/Pro distribution approach, nor are there changes to the Windows Store interface.
  • What’s clear is that the build we’re seeing is an early version. We don’t know how far away Windows 11 is from being available as an update (or new purchase), only the June 24 announcement date. 
  • Some reports are that it looks like Windows 11 is a consumer build. Enterprises are likely to continue on Windows 10, with an expected update, Windows 10 21H2, arriving completely separately.
  • And like previous Windows releases, more changes may flow through in regular updates and early builds don’t tell us the full story, as we saw with Windows 10.

The pitch: 

  • Microsoft will have its time on stage next Thursday at 11am ET to talk about what we see and what’s under the hood, why it’s moved in this direction, and what it all means.

🆕 OnePlus Nord N200 launches, bringing cheap 5G access to the US (Android Authority).

Realme launches Watch 2 series in Europe, confirms tablet, laptop are coming (Android Authority). As MKBHD pointed out, it’s incredible what companies like Realme copy from Apple (Twitter).

🍏 Some Apple M1 iMacs have crooked displays, and now you can’t unsee it (Android Authority).

🕹️ Everything Nintendo announced at its E3 2021 Direct show, including Breath of the Wild 2, Metroid Dread, and a whole lot more. More on the Breath of the Wild sequel coming in 2022 (Android Authority). No new Nintendo Switch Pro, but you’d know that if you’d been following!

🔒 The Android Messages app now offers end-to-end encryption (Engadget).

🍎 All 511 Apple Stores are open today for the first time in more than 17 months. Just like the Big Mac (and iPhone) Indexes, it’s a proxy for the health of society (9to5Mac).

🥽 Once a key supplier for iPhones, Japan Display is moving its LCDs to VR (Bloomberg).

⚖️ Big Tech critic Lina Khan wins FTC confirmation (Engadget).

💵 A disturbing read: Airbnb is spending millions to make nightmares go away (Bloomberg).

💰 Tim Berners-Lee makes an NFT from World Wide Web’s Objective-C (Ars Technica).

📡 Starlink dishes go into “thermal shutdown” once they hit 122°F (50°C): “Dishy will go into thermal shutdown at 122F and will restart when it reaches 104F. (40°C)”. That doesn’t sound good for places like Australia, or all too many places in the world in summer (Ars Technica).

📺 Streaming games to your TV actually started in the ’80s (Wired).

🌑 NASA might put a huge telescope on the far side of the moon (Wired).

🤔 “What’s your favorite question to ask someone to get to know them better?” (r/askreddit).

Weirdness Wednesday

CNET has done us all a favor, stitching together explanations of 55 weird objects seen on Mars, from the mother of pearl clouds, to celebrity rocks to “blueberries” to the ol’ favorite, the Face on Mars, first seen in 1976:


And later captured again in 2001 to prove it’s a mesa, not a mister:

face E03 00824 proc 50perc
  • My colleague Hadlee Simons, who helpfully tells me when I’m wrong before I send this newsletter, mentioned that the X-Files did an episode inspired by this: Space (S1E09).
  • Sadly, it rates as one of the worst episodes in the entire series, ranked in the bottom three (, and reportedly series creator Chris Carter’s least favorite. And he wrote it!


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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