Crazy Windows Speculations


I was originally going to pose this as an Ask Paul, but in the absence of that let’s throw it open to the community.

Paul seems pretty short on the idea that the “New Windows” is going to involve significant technical changes, but I figure what is the point in getting three weeks warning of this announcement if we can’t play the Crazy Speculation game.

To that end, similarly to Paul’s speculation about WinGet being related to the new store and app experiences they referenced in the announcement, I’m wondering whether other existing changes that have gone under or un-explained until now might be the basis of other significant announcements on June 24th?

For example, Paul commented a couple of weeks ago on Windows Weekly that there seemed to be something different about the 21H1 update, could whatever that is be the heart of “faster, easier, less intrusive updates”? 

In a mythical fantasy land where they are actually ready for primetime, maybe 10X style Win32 containers make an appearance to make it “the most secure Windows ever”.

Windows Feature Experience Packs have been around for 6 months, but except for an initial blog post they don’t seem to have ever really been explained or to have actually done anything that anyone can notice. Could they be basis of a “more customizable, personalizable experience” with things like the rumoured return of the CharmsBar that Mary-Joe was lamenting being a Feature Experience pack?

Hell, to take that a step further and really go crazy with it, maybe we see the full expression of the old Windows Core idea and the whole OS is now modular with all of the above and more being able to be added or removed at will either by the user or OEMs allowing, where necessary, for a much lighter OS and better performance from lower end hardware and that’s their Chromebook compete.

Is any of this is possible/likely? Probably not. But who knows, they have to have been doing something for the past couple of years while all the updates they’ve put out have had little to no user facing change.

So are there any other “sleeper” features anyone can think of that have either seemed relatively unimportant until now or that have slipped off the radar entirely in the constant churn of new catchphrases and ideas coming out of Redmond that could be the basis of near-zero evidence speculation on what they are going to announce on the 24th? 

Comments (18)

18 responses to “Crazy Windows Speculations”

  1. hrlngrv

    As long as the 1st account created on new PCs have Administrator privileges, you may have the most secure Windows ever, but you won't have the most secure Windows possible.

    I consider this MSFT's own fault, rather self-inflicted injury, because MSFT chose to make Windows Home insecure in order to minimize admin process for unsophisticated users. For Home, maybe OK. OTOH, for Windows Pro, it should STILL be necessary to follow the NT4 process of giving a password for the Administrator account, then asking for a standard user account name and password, making it awkward to quite difficult to run non-admin, non-maintenance software from the Administrator account, and make it impossible to perform admin/maintenance tasks from standard accounts.

    As for the security of containers, should a hex editor running in a container be able to modify any file for which a standard user has write privilege? If so, how could one stop cryptographic ransomware disguised as a hex editor running in a container from encrypting all user data files? Granted nothing prevents that now running a compromised hex editor or most other software not in containers from doing the same thing, but how do containers provide security against that class of malware?

    Containers only protect processes from each other, which undermines interprocess communication. It's a trade-off between functionality and security. There are likely to be some users of Windows Home who'd want to be on the higher functionality end of that trade-off, and maybe some Windows Pro users who'd prefer the more security end. Containers for all Win32 software is NOT a panacea.

    With respect to Windows Core, what would it be able to run? Presumably Edge, PWAs, Powershell at least in something like Console Host rather than Terminal, maybe Notepad, Paint and the other bundled Win32 applets but I doubt it. Anything else? Maybe lightweight GUI software implemented in TypeScript so that Windows Core could have some offline, non-PWA apps like Chrome OS has. Would there be any benefit to supporting UWP in Windows Core? To run Win32 software, it'd be necessary to install Hyper-V and a Win32 quasi-VM, the same sort of setup as needed to run WSL and Linux GUI software? Likewise for UWP support.

    • Daishi

      With respect to Windows Core, what would it be able to run?

      Maybe it runs everything. And nothing. All at the same time depending which components you have activated or installed. So if you want the Chromebook competitor version maybe you only allow for PWAs, but if you want the full power machine you can activate the UWP, Win32, Linux, Android, Mac etc components and run that software on the same Core OS.

      As for the security of containers, should a hex editor do containers provide security against that class of malware?

      No idea, not my job. But maybe you’re just thinking of containers as we know them up to June 23rd and the new containers they’ve been working on will be better and bolder with go faster stripes.

      On the whole I feel like you have approached my deliberately hare brained, pie in the sky suggestions far more seriously than they were intended to be.

      • hrlngrv

        | if you want the Chromebook competitor version maybe you only allow for PWAs

        These days Chrome OS runs a bit more than just Chrome browser and PWAs. Simpler for Chrome OS to run Android apps and Linux desktop software because they all share an underlying Linux architecture. Also, Chrome OS has been able to run some offline software since the beginning, utilities like the Calculator applet which comes bundled with it as well as things like the Caret text editor, which isn't technically a PWA, rather it uses Javascript and web UI components.

        Would Windows Core be strictly limited to Edge and PWAs strictly defined?

        | but if you want the full power machine you can activate . . . Mac . . . components and run that software . . .

        Apple is good to go with macOS software running under Windows Core?

        Even so, due to certain underlying similarities between macOS, Linux and Chrome OS, I figure it'd be easier for Chrome OS to run macOS software.

        Yes, I took your posting seriously, perhaps too seriously. I just can't understand failing to see the trade-off between functionality and security. There's certainly a lot more Windows could do with respect to security which wouldn't much affect functionality, but containers aren't one of those things. I use a few Linux Flatpaks, and they're a PITA when the default file access needs to be expanded beyond default locations.

        The main advantage to Flatpaks and similar are being able to use different system configurations for each such container which don't affect the configurations of other containers. Kinda like every running Windows program having its own HKCU registry hive in which it can do whatever it wants in HKCU\System, HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows, etc. with the added benefit of also being able to provide specific versions of shared libraries (Linux analog for Windows .DLLs) which one wouldn't want as overall system defaults.

        I figure MSFT wanted to try for something approaching Flatpaks, but it discovered that to provide the equivalent of a different HKCU hive for each container, it'd need an actual separate FULL HKCU hive for each container. Maybe also parts of other hives. There may be unintended consequences from Windows lacking underlying functionality comparable to Linux's chroot functionality or the ability to pick different desktop environments at login rather than needing to change HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon in a user session before the next login. Note: HKLM rather than HKCU, which I figure has significant implications that non-server versions of Windows simply aren't designed to handle significant differences between multiple accounts on the same PC, and that has adverse implications for containers for everything.

        Yes, I may be grossly overanalyzing and overreacting to your post, but I figure Windows remains at its core a single-user OS, which means a single configuration OS, which means containers are going to be a very complex computer science problem in Windows.

  2. winner

    My theory is that they have lost so much of the original Windows coding expertise, that it's a massive hairball and they actually don't have enough of the internal competency to do major architectural changes without screwing it all up.

  3. adlton

    My expectations are actually quite low.

    On the UX front I would be more than happy if they completed and refined Dark Mode with automatic changes from dark to light mode depending on time of the day and/or ambient light sensor input.

    Notification shade that is not giant white space bonanza with no information density would be great and this is probably going to happen because we have changes in that regard in Windows X.

    If they get all right-click menus to be consistent - I will pee my pants from joy, but I do not expect this.

    Tbh I do not really care if they modernize utilities introduced in early versions of Windows (Windows administrative tools). I use them rarely but I appreciate stability of UI and UX in those tools. Give them new icons and fresh coat of paint but not much more.

    More modern File Explorer is nice but I'm not sure I want them to poke there if they are not 110% committed. Half-assing job there is not great.

    I would like to see improved in-box apps. Mail and Photos should be more powerful apps at least. Give us a decent podcast manager also.

    I would like to se Picture in Picture mode implemented in Edge (Opera has great one, Firefox also has one).

  4. jimchamplin

    I think they’re going to announce that OS/2 development has resumed, Program Manager will be the new UI, and the new Intel CEO will take the stage with Panos to introduce the 4.4 GHz 80486DX CPUs. The DX is for Double eXtreme.

    In response, Apple will bring back MacOS 9.2, optimized for Apple Silicon, and herald the return of high quality CRTs, hot-swappable batteries on notebooks, and the Quadra desktop line. Also, more ports than the human mind can comprehend. And expansion slots. Can’t forget expansion slots. And the rainbow Apple logo.

    Google will proverbially throw themselves off a cliff because they have no idea how to parse what’s happening.

    • locust_infested_orchard_inc.

      A notable omission in what you stated is that the resumption of the OS/2 development will be aided by its co-developer, IBM, thanks in part to IBM's newish CEO, Arvind Krishna.

      Recall the OS/2 slogan that claimed, "a better DOS than DOS, and a better Windows than Windows".

      My bank's ATM (in the UK) still runs OS/2, as noted when it halted at boot time on the OS/2 Warp logo.

  5. StevenLayton

    Crazy speculation? They make everyone happy, and leave nothing for tech geeks to complain about? Now THATS crazy talk, lol.

  6. CalvusVir

    So, some have suggested that the "new" Windows animation with the cross piece of the window missing in the light cast to the ground looks like an "11". How about the idea the light being cast to the ground has simply split the Window in two?

    That could mean many things though. Like, splitting Windows into a consumer and an enterprise version that would get updated separately. Or, and this is my fun thought, it could mean that the UX is split completely from the actual Windows OS. This would give the ability for the enterprise to have a simplified interface for business users and consumers could have a "fancier" interface. It could also bring custom interfaces like we have on Linux.

    Either way, I'm really looking forward to what they announce on the 24th. And I've never really looked forward to much of anything Microsoft has announced in in many, many years.

    • hrlngrv

      One would have to be fairly old now to recall how welcome Windows 95 was. Not just for better multitasking than Windows 3.x, not just for being 32-bit by default, but long filenames. If one didn't spend years living with 8-dot-3 filenames, one can't truly appreciate Windows 95 and FAT32. Children!

      • hrlngrv

        Meant to add that the 24 Jun reveal won't be as big a deal as Windows 95.

      • navarac

        I remember the difference that Windows 95 made to my life. At the time it was sensational for most of us.

        Perhaps we see a Linux version of "Windows" (tongue-in-cheek!)

    • Daishi

      Ooo, I like it. There’s nothing quite like a bit of announcement image Kremlinology to get the whacked out hypotheses flowing.

      So maybe that division between UX and the system ties back into the Feature Experience Packs and you can whole different UX packs on top of the same underlying OS. So, say, while you have updated all of the machines in your business to run the new Windows you can install the Windows XP Experience Pack for George in Accounting who is 2 years from retiring and thinks everything after that has just been a waste of time. So you get all the benefits of him being on modern software while it looks and feels like the good old days to him.

      • tekisasujohn

        "So, say, while you have updated all of the machines in your business to run the new Windows you can install the Windows XP Experience Pack for George in Accounting who is 2 years from retiring and thinks everything after that has just been a waste of time."

        Heck. Yes. Don't forget that this would also aid everyone who has used Windows 8 and Windows 10, hates flat/Metro/Modern/UWP/WinUI3 design with the passion of a thousand suns, and acknowledges the fact that Microsoft has hired some of the most untalented UI developers in the history of software since 2012 to consistently make the desktop shell more and more infuriating to use in addition to needlessly causing migraines,

  7. Paul Thurrott

    A major UX revamp, even if that's all this is, is still big news.

    I guess the speculation extends now to ... what else, if anything, will there be? And that's an open question for now, until we have good leaks and then the announcement. But I'd be happy if they just got the UI right in this release. History, sadly, suggests that they won't get this right. But ... no reason not to be hopeful.

    • Daishi

      So? What else?

      Come on, you’ve tracked everything they’ve ever announced. Put on your ‘crazy speculation verging on conspiracy theory’ hat, make 2+2=17 and come up with what that thing they talked about at Build two years ago but never did anything with was actually about and how it is going to make what they show off on the 24th awesome.

  8. innitrichie

    Windows 11 Mobile.