Windows 10X is a variant of Windows 10 created by Microsoft to govern the new generation of folding devices, with double screen or flexible screens. This at least was the initial conception, because in recent weeks we have known that it will also be used in devices with a single screen or in low-cost equipment that does not need the standard version of Windows 10.
In addition to addressing the new form factors that will hit the market, it is considered the first system to emerge from the Windows Core OS project, a modular development with a basic core that can be expanded or reduced by modules to meet the needs of different devices. . And it could be anything from laptops to HoloLens to Xbox Series X.
The future of Microsoft operating systems will go there, but for now we are left with this Windows 10X, a light version, simplified and optimized for folding devices. We have tested it and, well, we have not gone beyond a simple “first glance” because its usefulness is null outside the scope of software development and the manufacturers that will use it. At least it allows us to give you an insight into what we can expect and update information from what we knew so far.
Windows 10X Quick Keys
The Windows 10 we use on the desktop has ended up being a hybrid far from Microsoft’s initial goal of producing a single operating system that would remove any legacy components and work just as well on any type of device. Microsoft has been testing variants like Windows 10 S and Windows 10 on ARM. Both have ended in fiasco, especially due to software support.
Windows 10X is a new “experiment” to which we grant the benefit of the doubt. It is different and does not point badly on paper, with outstanding characteristics such as:
- First version of the Windows Core OS project, a modular development that can be expanded or reduced to meet the needs of different devices.
- Developed under the code name “Santorini”, it is a lightweight, streamlined and optimized version originally conceived for folding devices, with dual displays and flexible displays.
- Its use in single-screen devices, such as in basic laptops to compete with computers such as Google Chromebooks, is not ruled out.
- Intended to debut on the Surface Neo, the device’s delay has left its release date in limbo.
- What is certain is that it will not be exclusive to the Microsoft folding. ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo have already announced the development of dual-screen or flexible devices based on this system.
- In this regard, Windows 10X will not be available to the general public. Officially, the system will only be licensed to OEM manufacturers to pre-install on new equipment.
- For now, Windows 10X has only shown support for the new Intel Lakefield processors, which does not exclude that it works on other hardware platforms.
- Windows 10X will run universal and progressive UWP applications. Microsoft promised that it would also run Win32 applications using “container” virtualization technologies, but the latest information indicates problems in its implementation. Bad business …
- Users will be able to use the system without a learning curve. Navigation and functionality will be familiar to anyone who has handled a standard Windows 10 machine.
How Windows 10X Is Tested
Although the system will be exclusive to OEMs, Microsoft published an emulator along with other tools such as SDKs for dual-screen Surface devices, development kits, documentation, libraries and APIs that allow developers to create applications and test their operation. Since the emulator is publicly accessible, any user can use it with the following previous requirements:
- Windows 10 version 17763 or higher.
- 64-bit versions.
- Keyboard and mouse
- 8 Gbytes of RAM.
- Microsoft ID account.
- Hyper-V installed.
From here the installation is simple:
- Install the Microsoft Emulator from the Microsoft Store. It is a free and independent app.
- Open the emulator. It will automatically search for new builds on the system.
- Select the latest version and install following the instructions.
- If you do not have it active previously you will need to use any Microsoft ID account.
- Also have the Hyper-V hypervisor activated. If you don’t have it installed, the fastest way to do it is from the advanced PowerShell console. Log in as administrator and run the command: DISM / Online / Enable-Feature / All / FeatureName: Microsoft-Hyper-V
Once completed press the start button to start. It takes a while, patience, keep in mind that it is a virtual machine that uses resources from your system.
Windows 10X, first look
Although it is likely that it will end up reaching devices with a single screen (perhaps low-cost equipment that does not need the standard version of Windows 10), what we see once the emulator is loaded is intended for devices with double screens as was the initial idea.
The general interface caters to this double screen and you can drag and drop windows between them, specify which screen you want an application to open on, or drag one of them to the center of the dual screen and drop it to cover both screens.
By default, applications open in a maximized state and occupy a single screen. Working with the dual screen, users will be able to run two applications side by side and share content from one to the other. When the device is in a position of two screens (double vertical or double horizontal), users can extend a single application on both screens.
It also has a full individual screen. Similar to the default layout, except that the system user interface (task bar, system tray, application bar, application title) is hidden to create a more immersive experience, for example in games and video playback. It has various modes of use.
Both screens can be used for display or one of them act as a virtual keyboard. They will also have a «Wonder Bar« function. Similar to ASUS ScreenPad Plus, the area above the physical keyboard can act as a touchpad, it can be used to display videos, media playback controls, or other content independent of what the main screen displays.
Windows 10X has a new start menu, simpler, lighter, flat and without trace of the interactive tiles of Windows 10. All indications are that this type of menu will prevail in the future also in the standard version of the system. The reception of this type of menu (which can already be tried in the Insider versions) has been positive.
There is also a new taskbar. The bar is adaptive and covers both displays when using Windows 10X with a dual display device. Or it can be located in a more traditional left-aligned location if the user wants.
He new icon set that we have been seeing in the standard system is also present, as well as a activities Center refreshed and more functional.
Refering to running applications, Windows 10X will run the UWP, the progressive and also the Win32. Applications will run in a container which means they are isolated from the operating system. App isolation should help improve stability, reduce the possibility of crashes, and improve device security.
Working in an emulator under a virtual machine does not allow us to get an idea of the actual performance on devices. It goes quite slow, even on a powerful machine where we have installed it. It will be a subject to evaluate later and we hope that Microsoft will solve it properly because it was one of the problems of previous variants of Windows 10. And also the execution of software, a workhorse in recent years for Microsoft.
If you try it, tell us your experience. It paints well as an optimized system to govern the next generation of folding attractions, although its usefulness right now is limited outside the scope of software development and the manufacturers who are testing it.