You always know before you're officially told.
Somehow these days, the leaks drift out, leaving you to wonder whether some enterprising hacker has obtained them first or whether the company launching the new, new thing believes leaking is the finest path to peaking.
And so it was last week that alleged elements of Microsoft's latest, most exciting operating system, drifted to inviting places like Baidu, Weibo, and Twitter.
There was a new start menu, an alluring collection of new wallpapers, and the delicate touch of rounded corners.
Many felt assured this was the real thing, long ahead of the June 24 big reveal.
Those who follow such things with an excessive amount of mental depth insisted, however, that this was all a marginally souped-up version of the sadly unreleased Windows 10X.
Perhaps, though, the vast majority of humanity uses Windows because they have to, they always have or they see no way out.
For them, Windows is merely a vehicle for all the things they need to do as part of their job. When a new one comes along, they're just as likely to complain about it as to love it.
So I asked someone who spends unconscionable amounts of time in Windows' bosom as part of her work -- my wife. She's a scientist who's been buried in Windows since Bill Gates was in his prime.
What did she think of the new Windows 11?
"You're on Windows 10, aren't you?" I asked.
"Yeah, whatever the latest one is," she replied.
"You don't think of it as Windows 10?"
"I think of it as whatever Windows our system administrator has put on our computers."
"You know there's a new Windows coming out, don't you?"
"Oh yeah?" she said, bristling with enthusiasm.
I showed her a little video and some other clips that have emerged.
"That's pretty. I like the flower thing, " said my wife.
"Prettier than your current Windows?"
"I guess. I don't think about it. I just want it to work. I mean, I'm on everything Microsoft. PowerPoint, Excel -- actually, I like Excel a lot-- Word, Sticky Notes, Teams. But now that you show it to me, it definitely seems prettier."
"Prettier like your Apple thing."
"My Apple thing?"
"Your MacBook whatever. This looks more like that."
"What about the rounded corners?"
"What rounded corners?"
She focused on the footage more closely and concluded: "That'll probably look nicer on my big screen."
As for the new start menu and the fact that it's now in the middle but movable, her verdict was simple: "The more icons I can see, the better. There are more icons there, right? Or are there?"
I sensed my wife was mildly interested but fundamentally unenthused. So I tried a different approach.
"How about the new startup sound?"
She began to sing it: "Duh-duh. Ping!"
"You like it?"
"That could stay in my head. Not sure why I'd want it to, though."
She was getting restless. "How is this going to make my work any better or easier?" she wondered.
"I don't know. Hey, this might even be a fake leak and the real thing will be the most exciting thing you've ever seen."
"Don't think so," she mused drily. "You all get excited about these things, but I just want something that works better and quicker. Security would be nice, too, but I know that's asking for too much. I spend half my life staring at numbers and the other half staring at people. So if you can make Excel and Teams better, I'm all in. Otherwise, yeah, I'll give you this looks a little more, um, feminine."
"I like the new folder colors. Once you learn what color each folder is, you can identify them more easily," she explained.
I began to feel that Windows 11 -- if this is, indeed, Windows 11 -- wasn't going to change my wife's (work) life too much at all.
She's still at the mercy of whatever Microsoft provides her and the laptops her bosses grant her. Which, currently, means a painfully lugubrious Dell Latitude.
Many are surely in a similar situation. They open their computers, perhaps receive a message that there's a system update and then it's back to work.
Perhaps they notice that some icons are prettier and some corners are rounder. Perhaps they even remark on it to themselves.
Ultimately, will this new Windows improve anything? It could be that Microsoft will offer a few surprises on June 24. It could also be that someone in marketing was desperate for a little polish to peddle. The UI is unquestionably more inviting.
"So will this Windows 11 make your life any better?" I asked my wife, as she reached for a beer. (Did I mention she's an alcohol researcher?)
"Duh-duh. Ping!" she replied.