A little over a year ago, Microsoft introduced the new Surface Duo and Surface Neo. These are two foldable devices that have revolutionized the mobile and tablet market respectively. However, the Surface Neo was much more than a two-screen tablet: it was the first device with Windows 10X, the modern operating system Microsoft has been working on for years.
This system has been a real headache for Microsoft, with constant leadership changes due to various development strategies and issues. The last one we know about Windows 10X is from May of this year: it will focus on laptops and tablets with a screen on startup. Additionally, it was leaked shortly after that it will not support Win32 applications except as an enterprise solution and using the cloud. We will analyze what the two mean.
Windows 10X will be a lightweight and secure operating system focused on tablets and laptops
As for the approach to laptops and tablets, it seems that the global pandemic that is hitting us, with sharply weakened economies and an exponential increase in demand for these types of devices, has been a decisive influence. Now is not the time for great innovations but rather for pragmatism. A lighter, simpler, and more secure operating system than Windows 10 is something that could help many users, especially at the entry level.
From what we know so far, Windows 10X is abandoning many legacy Windows 10 components to rely on modern components. This would result in a system that is less heavy and performs better for the same hardware, looking more like ChromeOS or iPadOS than Windows 10 itself in this regard.
Plus, it could receive updates in the background, it would have a modern design, and it would incorporate gestures to improve on a touch that pales so much in Windows 10.
The lack of Win32 support: consequence of the change of orientation
It was in July that we learned that Microsoft, after shifting its focus from Windows 10X to entry-level laptops and tablets to compete with ChromeOS, has abandoned VAIL support. VAIL is the technology that Windows 10X would integrate to virtualize the Win32 subsystem, allowing us to run classic Windows applications and programs: the Adobe suite, the Office suite, AutoCad …
To the inexperienced eye, this move by Microsoft may sound like the chronicle of an announced death for an operating system that has not even seen the light of day. But everything has an explanation. According to sources, the incorporation of VAIL has affected the performance of Windows 10X and the battery life of the device, two aspects that Redmond does not want to sacrifice as the identity of the new operating system.
In addition, Microsoft believes that times have changed and that today the Web has an unprecedented role. If at the time of Windows RT the lack of support for Win32 applications condemned the said operating system, today the web can partly compensate for this lack. Web technologies have evolved to the point that many web pages are true PWAs (Progressive Web Applications) capable of accessing the benefits of Windows that were previously reserved for native programs like notifications, Windows share menu, etc. Its possibilities today far exceed those of 2012.
In addition, the system will continue to be able to run UWP applications, the modern framework Microsoft introduced with Windows 10. Although not having the expected success, it offers an additional solution and opens the door to developers to adopt it for the future the operating system triumphs.
Why does Microsoft need it?
Many people will ask themselves: what is the need for this new “cut” operating system compared to Windows 10? What benefits can this bring to Microsoft? The answer to these questions follows from what has been said above: post-pandemic world, modernization and the Internet.
Those at Redmond cannot sit back and watch how ChromeOS and iPadOS are becoming more viable alternatives in the mid- and low-cost mobile productivity industry. Microsoft needs to offer users an operating system that is simpler than Windows 10, lighter to run at peak performance on computers with modest hardware and, above all, more secure. Windows 10X will be an ideal alternative for some businesses and educational institutions due to its extreme security.
The time when Windows 10X can replace Windows 10 still seems a long way off. Everything indicates that the two will coexist for years to come and that it will be Windows 10X that will have to prove itself. Will it succeed?
When will the final version of Windows 10X be released?
We have no information on whether there will be a “presentation” as such (hopefully). What we know from various sources is that December 2020 is the time marked in red on Microsoft’s schedule to have a final version to send to manufacturers (RTM). The first computers to use Windows 10X are expected to start appearing in spring 2021.
After several months of uncertainty, the latest news is encouraging. It seems that development has not stopped and that Microsoft has managed everything in the utmost secrecy. This is deduced from information that appeared on Edge in Windows 10X just 4 days ago.