Leaked Windows 11 build shows a Windows 10X-like interface

A leaked build of what appears to be "Windows 11" is circulating. The shell looks a lot like the one that was part of Microsoft's cancelled Windows 10X variant.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: BetaWorld (Baidu)

There's still a little more than a week left before Microsoft officially unveils "the new Windows." A new leaked build, which appears to be legitimate, makes it seem as if the rumored "Windows 11" branding is likely to stick. In addition, as many of us expected, the new Windows 11 shell looks a lot like Windows 10X builds we've seen previously.

The leaked build -- which I first saw via XDA Developers (which credited BetaWorld on Baidu as the source) shows Build 21996.1 as the build number. This is from the "Cobalt" engineering branch. It also shows Windows Feature Experience Pack 321.14700.0.3 alongside the "Windows 11 Pro" dev build.

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Windows 10X, which Microsoft officials recently acknowledged they had decided to drop, featured a centered taskbar and a fly-out Start menu. The icons on the screenshot of this build are transparent and Live Tiles are completely gone.

Some have speculated that Microsoft could deliver some pieces of Windows 11 via the Feature Experience Pack -- a mechanism Microsoft currently uses to deliver OS components and apps that can be updated independently from the base operating system. According to previous leaks, Microsoft is also expected to overhaul the app store as part of Windows 11. The app store is currently a separate Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app.

Windows 11 is expected to include the "Sun Valley" user-interface refresh, as well as some underlying improvements, such as better touch capabilities along with the new app store, based on various leaks. I've heard Microsoft will likely make Windows 11 available to OEM partners this month or next and release it to the mainstream user base this fall.

Windows 11, if that branding persists, is expected to be built on top of the existing Windows 10 core, not the Windows Core OS (WCOS) base which was going to be at the heart of Windows 10X. From what I've heard from my contacts, Microsoft will continue to support the existing Windows 10 product with a Windows 10 21H2 release this fall. Microsoft officials also have said they plan to release a Windows 10 Enterprise Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release this fall.

As Microsoft officials said six years ago, the company is committed to supporting Windows 10 until 2025. Support for the LTSC releases will go beyond that point -- with this fall's LTSC release on tap to be supported for five years after it debuts.

Microsoft is holding a virtual event on June 24 at 11 a.m. ET to unveil what's next for Windows.

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