At the Windows 11 event on 24 June, Microsoft announced its new operating system would be rolled out to compatible devices ‘this holiday’. A more specific date wasn’t revealed, but piecing together the evidence from the launch makes an October 2020 release highly likely.
If you watched the stream last week, you’ll probably have been focused on the new features and what Panos and the team had to say. However, there were some Easter eggs in there that a few eagle-eyed viewers have picked up on.
First up, take a closer look at the official screenshot of the Windows 11 desktop above. In the notification tray, you’ll see a Teams message from Microsoft’s Stevie Bathiche. It reads: “Good luck today, Panos! Excited to turn it up to 11...can’t wait for October!”.
Bathiche is an engineer who works on Surface PCs, so there’s a chance this date is in reference to new Microsoft hardware, but most people watching won’t know that. The clear implication here is that Windows 11 will come to market in October, and we haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary.
In fact, subsequent images suggest a more specific release date. The image below shows the device date as 20 October 2021, with a 1hr ‘Presentation’ scheduled in the calendar.
Again, this could when we see the Surface Pro 8 launch, but it’s likely Microsoft is targeting October for both hardware and software releases.
Indeed, the evidence for this date is less conclusive; a separate Windows 11 marketing image shows the device time as 6 October. Nonetheless, both are on a Wednesday, the same day of the week Windows 10 came to market in July 2015.
Will Windows 11 be a staggered release?
It’s unlikely. Microsoft has been throttling up availability of Windows 10 feature updates in order to manage demand, but we don’t imagine this to be the case for Windows 11.
As a general rule, brand new versions of Windows become available for all compatible devices on the same date. For Windows 10, that was 29 July 2015. For Windows 11, it might just be 20 October 2021.
When will the first Windows 11 devices be released?
Judging from Microsoft’s recent history and the hints above, we’d expect new Surface hardware around the same time Windows 11 comes to market. The Surface Pro 8 is the most likely device we’ll see, but a Surface Go 3 and third-gen Surface Pro X are still possible. A follow-up to April’s Surface Laptop 4 is off the cards, but a new Surface Studio desktop will surely be launching soon. The second-gen model is still sold on Microsoft’s website, but it’s 7th-gen Intel processor won’t be supported by Windows 11.
Once the new OS is officially available, look out for plenty of other companies launching Windows 11 PCs of their own. Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung were featured in Microsoft’s trailer, but almost all 2021 Windows devices will probably have a Windows 11 successor in 2022.