add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );

Windows 10 Sun Valley design refresh — here’s what you need to know


Windows 10 ‘Sun Valley’ UI refresh, otherwise known as ‘version 21H2’, is reportedly arriving in the second half of this year and it will also include several new features.

Windows 10 21H2 will be released in the fall of 2021 after Windows 10 21H1 is released in the spring followed by Windows 10X.

Codenamed “Sun Valley.” Windows 10 21H2 will be a full-featured update that includes numerous new features and improvements for the Start Menu, Taskbar, Action Center, and more, which we have outlined below.

New Clipboard

You can now use the clipboard history manager (Win + V) to insert emojis and GIFs.

In addition to these new fancy features, you will now see a “Paste as plain text” option alongside pin and delete. This will allow you to paste the text content of the clipboard without its original formatting (font, color, size etc.), 

New DNS over HTTPS (DoH) feature

Since Windows 10 version 21H1 will be a minor release, native support for DNS over HTTPS (DoH) will likely be introduced with Windows 10 Sun Valley update.

DNS over HTTPS (DoH) is a new feature that will allow DNS resolution over encrypted HTTPS connections, and it aims to protect your browsing privacy from outsiders.

“If you haven’t been waiting for it, and are wondering what DoH is all about, then be aware this feature will change how your device connects to the Internet and is in an early testing stage so only proceed if you’re sure you’re ready,” Microsoft noted in a blog post published last year.

You can configure DoH directly in the Settings app. To configure DoH for ethernet connections, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings > Network & Internet > Status.
  2. Click Properties.
  3. Select Edit IP assignment or Edit DNS server assignment.
    New DNS over HTTPS (DoH) feature
    New DNS over HTTPS (DoH) feature
  4. Enable DoH in the popup.

To configure DoH for Wi-Fi connections, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi.
  2. Click the adapter properties link.
  3. Select Edit IP assignment or Edit DNS server assignment.
  4. Enable DoH in the popup.

For more detailed information, see our article on how DoH works on Windows 10.

Modern disk management in Settings

With version 21H2, Microsoft is slowly migrating legacy apps or tools into modern versions found in the Settings. For example, in this release, the Settings app is getting the new Disk Management tool, which aims to simplify the disk management process and manage your disks and volumes without using the legacy tool.

New modern Disk Management settings
New modern Disk Management settings

‘Manage Disks and Volumes’ utility supports better integration with the Storage Spaces and Storage Settings. The disk management tool has been rewritten, and it will initially allow you to view disk information, create and format volumes, and assign drive letters.

To access this new tool, you need to go to Settings > System > Storage and click on Manage Disks and Volumes.

For more detailed information, see our article on the new Disk Management tool.

Improved GPU performance

Microsoft is also planning to give users greater control over multiple GPUs when running apps in Windows 10.

On devices with two GPUs, Windows 10 will use integrated one as a power-saving GPU and the discrete graphics card as a high-performance GPU. This setting will be configured automatically based on your device.

Select a specific GPU to use with an application
Select a specific GPU to use with an application

You can also go to the Graphics settings under Settings > Display > Graphics Settings and specify whether an app should use the high-performance or power-saving GPU.

For more information, please read our article on GPU controls in Windows 10.

Improved Sound Device Settings

Microsoft will allow you to set default devices for your speakers from Settings > System > Sound. Also, there’s now a link to the per-app sound screen in the classic Volume Mixer.

These improvements will again reduce your dependency on legacy components.

New UI and animations

In addition to Fluent Design, WinUI is also going to play an important role in the Windows 10 21H2 update. WinUI, which is maintained on Github, is a new user interface layer that contains modern controls and styles, and it uses Fluent Design.

New Windows animations
New Windows animations

With WinUI and Fluent Design, Microsoft plans to enable new animations for opening windows, rounded corners, transparent backgrounds, and more.

With the Sun Valley update, Microsoft will improve and replace the legacy areas. For example, Microsoft plans to update the Start Menu and context menus with rounded corners.

Rounded corners in the Windows 10 Sun Valley update
Rounded corners in the Windows 10 Sun Valley update

Microsoft will also update the existing File Explorer with additional improvements like dark mode support for the properties tab.

New Battery monitor

Microsoft is also testing an Android-like redesigned ‘Battery’ settings page that will use graphs to monitor daily or weekly battery usage.

New and improved Battery settings page
New and improved Battery settings page

As shown in the above screenshot, battery settings will display your device’s battery level for the entire week, and you can find out when your device was last charged.

Task Manager changes

The Windows 10 Task Manager has been updated with a new column called ‘Architecture,’ which lists whether a running program is a 32-bit or 64-bit process.

Task Manager

This column will show you the architecture of each running process.

Windows will tell about new changes feature updates

To make sure Windows 10 users do not miss out on all of these new features, an upcoming update to the Microsoft Tips app includes a guide on the operating system’s latest changes.

New Microsoft Tips experience

News Tip2

Microsoft will use this new feature to highlight the latest changes in Windows 10 after feature updates. 

“We know that it doesn’t always feel clear what changed with a major update, or even how you can learn about and try out new features and improvements. This means that updates can feel time-consuming without real benefit to you, and we want to change that,” Microsoft said last year.

For more detailed information, check out our article on Windows 10’s new post-update experience.

You May Also Like…