The Windows 11 leak may be an early, incomplete build

microsoft windows 11 flower background largeImage: Mark Hachman / IDG

Windows 11 may be better than we thought.

PCWorld has been told by a knowledgeable source close to Microsoft that the leaked Windows 11 build is being characterized as a portion of an incomplete, early build. The source characterized the Windows 11 build as not a final product, saying that Microsoft will likely offer a fuller look at what it plans to offer at its “what’s next for Windows” event on June 24.

The source did not refer to the leaked build as either “Windows 10” or “Windows 11.” Of course, running the winver command on the leaked build labels it as Windows 11. It’s also referred to as Windows Dev build 21996.1.

It’s unclear what Microsoft may add to Windows 11. Though the leaked build offers a graphical overhaul to Windows 10—complete with new icons and rounded corners on menus—the underlying architecture of the build appears to be heavily dependent upon Windows 10. Familiar Windows 10 apps like Mail, Calendar, and Photos all appear, and the build connects to familiar services like Microsoft’s OneDrive. The most profound changes are in the Taskbar and especially the Start menu, which draw heavily from the now-cancelled Windows 10X.

However, the Windows 11 build that was leaked also excludes new features that had been talked about as part of an upcoming Windows release, such as an updated, improved Microsoft Store app and the “Auto HDR” capability that Microsoft had added to certain Xbox Series X games. The latter feature would add HDR capabilities to PC games that hadn’t specifically been coded for it. Though Auto HDR is being tested as part of the Windows Insider program for PCs, it does not feature in the leaked Windows 11 build.

Satya Nadella’s involvement lends some credence to the report. Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, had characterized the upcoming Windows release as the most significant to Windows in about a decade, and he had publicly referred to it as the next generation of Windows as well. Would Nadella endorse Windows 11 in its current form, as represented by the leaked build? Perhaps, but it’s more likely that Microsoft has something else up its sleeve when it debuts what’s next for Windows next week.

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