Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella teases next version of Windows will be unveiled 'very soon'

Nadella promises major changes, though doesn't give many details. Rumors say it's coming later this year.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
3 min read

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company is planning "one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade," its software that powers more than 1.3 billion people's devices. Although he didn't offer details, Nadella said Microsoft plans to unveil the new version "very soon."

"I've been using it over the past several months and I'm incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows," he said.

We don't know much about the next generation of Windows software, other than Nadella's earlier promise that the company would "double down" on Windows and PCs. Rumors about the new version, code-named Cobalt, point to updates for the user interface (known as Sun Valley), meant to "reinvigorate" and modernize its look. The last time Microsoft meaningfully changed its look was with Windows 10 , which was first released in 2015, following Windows 8.1 . Microsoft hasn't said when its new Windows update will be released, but CNET sister site ZDNet said it's targeted for the second half of this year.

Nadella gave his remarks during Microsoft's annual Build developers conference, which is being held entirely online due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a couple of weeks, Apple will hold its Worldwide Developers Conference online as well, with a keynote address from Apple CEO  Tim Cook  on June 7 starting at 10 a.m. PT. 

Nadella and Cook won't just be sharing the virtual stage a few weeks apart. The two regularly use their opening speeches to discuss their company's philosophies. Recently, both have called for additional privacy protections in technology

"We need to ask ourselves not only what computers can do, but what computers should do," he said during his 2018 keynote address. Nadella used that speech to announce an internal "ethics board" to "govern" the products Microsoft builds. "We also have a responsibility as a tech industry to build trust in technology."


Microsoft's developer conference is typically when we get to learn about new software and features.

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Microsoft has also used its keynote speeches to discuss new technologies like its HoloLens augmented reality glasses, which overlay computer images on the real world. Microsoft primarily sells those devices to companies and the military.

This year though, Nadella chose to spend his 16-minute speech discussing how important tech has become to daily life. He said the tech industry is still growing rapidly, and will represent 10% of the world's gross domestic product, which is a broad measure of the economy. The tech industry has been credited with creating millions of jobs and adding more than $1 trillion to the US economy alone.

"Over the past two years, the number of developers at non-tech companies has grown faster than at tech companies," Nadella said, adding that the most rapid hiring is in agriculture, consumer goods, energy, finance and wellness. And the automotive industry hired more software engineers than mechanical engineers in the last year, he added.  "We are seeing a surge of developers across industries and geographies."

Nadella's speech wasn't all high-minded idealism though. He also took an indirect swipe at Apple, hitting on the question of how much control a company is allowed to have over its devices. Apple is currently awaiting a ruling from a US District Judge in California, where the iPhone maker was sued by Fortnite developer Epic Games over how much control it wields over its devices.

"Our ambition is to be the platform for platform creators," Nadella said during Tuesday's address. "This conference is not about setting new rules or constraints that dictate how or what you should build. It's not even about celebrating our own innovation."

Instead, he said, Microsoft wants to help developers create their own innovation. That, he added, is "at the core of our mission."