As of today, there are more than 900 million devices running Windows 10 around the world. Almost all of those devices currently look and feel familiar. Laptops and desktops with a single screen are the backbone of the Windows 10 world. However, Microsoft believes it is time for something different.
The future is more than just a single screen, and it is with that vision in mind that Microsoft introduces Windows 10X. Designed for a dual-screen PC world, this updated look is designed to be mobile first for users on the go. Microsoft is betting the next generation will love this form factor, and they just might be on to something.
Defining Windows 10X
Let us be clear right from the get-go: you will not be able to upgrade your current PC to Windows 10X. Ever. Not even the most powerful Surface laptop will run this platform because it is just not designed for today’s computing lifestyle.
Instead, it is designed for the lifestyle of tomorrow. Imagine you have a report due for work tomorrow and need to finish it on the train ride into the office. With Windows 10X, you can send an email on one side of the screen while taking notes on the other. That’s the brilliance of Windows 10X: multitasking.
To be clear, Windows 10X is Windows. It will support existing Windows applications right out of the box. This isn’t a new operating system; it is an extension of an existing one.
Goodbye Live Tiles
For many Windows 10 (and even Windows 8) users, Live Tiles have been the backbone of their workflow for years. That is not the case any more, as these are “retired” in Windows 10X. There is a new, more simplified Start menu that is focused on application icons. Smartphone-esque in nature, Windows 10X should have a nominal learning curve. Anyone familiar with operating Windows 10 should feel right at home.
As of today, only a single device supports Windows 10X: the Surface Neo. Introduced recently at a Microsoft press event, it will not launch until the 2020 holiday season. Per Microsoft’s two-screen strategy, the Neo incorporates two nine-inch screens as one device. Add in a 360-degree hinge alongside pen and keyboard support, and you have both a mobile device and a portable computer in one. Word from the Microsoft mountain is that future devices should follow the same general design of the Neo. Surely third-party OEMs will find their own path, but the two-screen vision will not change.
Microsoft has long-standing relationships with Dell, Lenovo, HP and ASUS, and the company assures us new devices will come from these partners. The press release even goes so far as to say that new devices will “vary in size, design and specs, and be powered by Intel. That caveat is worth emphasizing as ARM-based devices will be left out in the cold, at least initially. It is unlikely this will be a deal-breaker for many first adopters, but it is worth noting all the same.
What Happens to Windows 10?
Realistically? Nothing. Microsoft has been completely transparent that these systems are complementary and not competitive. Like Apple and the release of iPad OS, Microsoft realizes that mobile devices require something different from a desktop-level operating system. Windows 10 should continue development in full force and will likely only go away when Windows 11 is unveiled.
What Is Next?
Not a whole lot at this moment. As we are a year away from the promised release date, consumers can only wait. Like all technology announced well in advance, the shipping date of Holidays 2020 is subject to change. That leaves plenty of time for Microsoft to drive consumer and developer interest through teasers, press releases and developer conferences. Right now, all you can do is watch with great interest as Microsoft once again tries to change the world of computing.
For the moment, Windows 10X is a lot of smoke and mirrors. We know it exists and that Microsoft has teased its first device. Until we actually get our hands on it, it is nothing more than a prototype. Still, if first impressions are any indication, Microsoft could have a massive hit on its hands with the Surface Neo. I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t wait to try it.