Windows 10 21H1 update may include user interface changes

Windows 10 start menu
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The first Windows 10 update of 2021 may come with noticeable changes to the user interface, including more versatile volume controls and a smaller search bar, according to leaked previews.

Codenamed Windows 10 21H1 or Windows 10 Iron, the next major update of Windows 10 is expected to roll out to the public in spring 2021. Though it’s still a ways off, we’re already getting glimpses of it thanks to Microsoft recently shipping a preview build to testers.

The preview build includes multiple UI changes and other tweaks, according to Microsoft watchers like Windows Latest and Paul Thurrott.

Among the changes in the preview update is a long-rumored adjustment to Windows’ volume controls. The current controls are incredibly basic, with a mute button and a cursor that slides from 0 to 100.

Microsoft is apparently bringing its Fluent Design language to the new version, which features multimedia playback controls that’ll let you change tracks, pause and resume the music you’re playing. The new volume controls will also display album cover art of the music you’re playing in your browser or streaming service.

The Windows 10 21H1 preview build also contains a smaller search box that takes up less space on the Windows taskbar.

Microsoft also appears to be testing changes to the Action Center in this new preview build. The updated Action Center would group notifications and house them under different apps. Opening the Action Center would allow users to see any missed alerts.

Meanwhile, Paul Thurrott reported that the first build of Windows 10 21H1 includes some useful updates for users of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). These include:

  • GPU Compute, a feature that enables your Linux binaries to leverage your GPU
  • WSL install, which lets you install WSL with a single command
  • WSL-update, which allows you to manage the Linux kernel version used by WSL 2 distros

This news comes as Microsoft’s recently released Windows 10 May 2020 update has been a mixed bag. That update included some desirable changes, but it also caused issues with printers, problems with Chrome and had numerous other major flaws.