Microsoft has reportedly put Windows 10X on the back burner
Windows 10X has had a troubled history this far, and according to a report from Brad Sams of Petri, it’s just getting worse. Microsoft has reportedly shelved its plans for the newer, more modern version of Windows.
The story behind Windows 10X
The official story of Windows 10X began in October 2019. Microsoft ambitiously announced two dual-screen devices, the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo. The reason it was ambitious was because the products were announced so far ahead of when they’d actually be released. The Surface Duo was an Android-powered smartphone, but the Neo was something new.
The Surface Neo was set to run a new version of Windows called Windows 10X. The modern version of Windows was supposedly built for dual-screen devices. However, eventually, Microsoft actually announced that Windows 10X was being repurposed for single-screen devices. With that, the Surface Neo was delayed indefinitely. Windows and devices chief Panos Panay said the plan was to meet customers where they’re at with single-screen PCs, despite the fact that you’d still need to buy a new PC to get the new OS.
That single-screen version of Windows 10X was supposed to be a Chrome OS competitor, shipping on low-end and education-focused devices. It was supposed to RTM around this spring, and then devices would start shipping soon after.
Now, Windows 10X is dead and it’s all about Sun Valley
But none of this is going to happen, according to the report. Windows 10X is apparently dead, something that shouldn’t come as a surprise given the OS’s history, as well as Microsoft’s history with trying to modernize its operating system. While there was a time when the big work on the Windows team was on Windows 10X, those resources have moved back to Windows 10.
Microsoft’s new plan is the Sun Valley update, which we’re set to start seeing in Windows 10 this fall. It should bring a significant design overhaul. Even if it doesn’t modernize anything under the hood for Windows 10, it should bring a modern look and feel.
The Redmond company has a lot of legacy components in Windows 10 that it would love to get rid of if it could. The most notable example is always Win32 and the way that those legacy apps can affect the rest of your system. In the original demo for Windows 10X, it had Win32 support, but all Win32 apps would run inside of a container so they would be more secure. This ended up taking up too many resources. When the single-screen version of the OS leaked, Win32 support was gone completely. This was just one of the speedbumps in the road for the troubled operating system.
Microsoft still relies heavily on legacy
The reality always seems to be that Microsoft simply can’t shed its legacy components. Its enterprise customers rely on them too much, and every attempt to get rid of them has failed entirely, going back to the early 2000s. You might recall Windows RT in 2012, which was Microsoft’s first attempt at Windows on ARM. It only supported Store apps, and it quickly failed when there’s were full-featured Intel-powered products next to it.
Then there was Windows 10 S, which arrived alongside the original Surface Laptop. Like Windows RT, Windows 10 S looked and felt exactly like regular old Windows, except without support for apps outside of the Store. Windows 10 S actually was regular old Windows 10 Pro, except locked down. The big difference between Windows 10 S and Windows RT was that with Windows 10 S, later called Windows 10 in S mode, you had the choice of upgrading to full Windows.
A key difference with Windows 10X is that it’s an almost entirely new operating system. That’s more or less why it’s getting canceled. Microsoft simply can’t seem to get it to a place where it’s fully-features enough to actually ship.
The future for Windows 10X is uncertain
According to the report, the future of Windows 10X is uncertain at best. If we do see something called Windows 10X at some point, it won’t be what we’ve seen so far. Sams also speculated that we’ll hear an announcement on the fate of the OS soon, but it’s possible that Microsoft just might never say anything.
For the most part, when Microsoft kills off a product, it just never publicly mentions it again. For example, there was a feature called Sets that was supposed to put tabbed apps in Windows 10. That was never officially canceled, but anyone following along knows it’s not coming. No one ever even publicly said that Windows 10 Mobile was going away. It just stopped getting feature updates and there was an end of support date for the last update that it got.
The product page for the Surface Neo is gone. Don’t be surprised if documentation for Windows 10X quietly goes away as well. As it stands right now, it’s still focused on dual-screen devices, so it’s already out of date. It’s entirely possible that Microsoft simply won’t mention Windows 10X ever again.