Microsoft Windows 10X: no revolution happened

A few days ago, Habré published the news that Microsoft is closing its large-scale project – the revolutionary, as reported by the company, the Windows 10X operating system. Initially, this OS was designed for gadgets with two screens, but then the company decided to expand the number of compatible platforms by adding laptops with a basic configuration.

The abandonment of this OS was a surprise to many, as the company announced several times that Windows 10X will appear later this year. But just around the time of the planned release, the company decided to cancel everything.

How it all began

Windows 10X had several tentative names at once, including Windows Core OS, Windows Lite, and others. First, Microsoft began developing it to fit on a new kind of dual-screen device. The OS was rumored long before its appearance, but the company made an official announcement in October 2019, at the same time as the Surface Neo. It was a dual-screen device on which the operating system was installed.

The developers stated that the operating system is ARM-oriented, as was the case with Windows RT and Windows 10S before. We tried to add emulation of Win32 applications, but in the end we abandoned it, so the ready-made developments were removed from the test version.

For several months, the media, covering the development of dual-screen systems and the operating system itself, called the project “revolutionary”. But, unfortunately, the revolution did not happen. The fanfare sounded quieter, and then the music stopped altogether. Loud announcements were not heard until the cancellation of the release of Windows 10X.

Something went wrong

We can say that history repeated itself with Courier tablets. Initially, it was Microsoft, not Apple, that began to actively promote the concept of tablets, and the Courier was a truly innovative device at the time of its inception. Perhaps Microsoft would have failed even if the company released the tablet to the market. On the other hand, it might have worked.

Now the situation is somewhat similar: the promotion of devices with two screens, both smartphones and laptops, began in the same way. But then everything died out even at the prototype stage. Plus, along with the “iron” project, the development of the operating system also began to slow down.

True, the project to create the platform lived longer than the “hardware”, since they decided to position Windows 10X as, if not a competitor, then at least an analogue of Chrome OS. That is why support for the ARM architecture was added, which, for example, is not available in the “adult” Windows 10.

In mid-December 2020, several online media announced at once that the development of Windows 10X was completed and soon this OS would be available for laptop manufacturers. This is the RTM version. In the second quarter of 2021, devices with this platform were expected to go on sale. In general, Windows 10X had a chance to defeat the same Chrome OS, because until now the share of OS from Google is a little more than 1% of the entire desktop OS market.

Windows 10X had several differences from Windows 10:

  • The Start menu has not only been renamed to Launcher (originally called Start), but also reformatted. It included a search bar, displayed recently used documents and applications. The developers have changed the menu interface so that users can quickly launch tasks.
  • Instant exit from sleep mode. After Apple added this feature to its laptops, Microsoft developers decided to use instant wake-up from sleep mode in their OS (perhaps this was the original idea).
  • Quick setup. The general settings menu has been divided into two main elements. One of them, quick settings, included the most popular items like wireless communication or input language. However, there is something similar in Windows 10.
  • A simplified interface and the inability to install common applications from different resources – only from the Microsoft Store.

Unexpected cancellation

A few days ago, the corporation released the cumulative Windows 10 May 2021 Update (21H1). Usually it is released on the eve of or simultaneously with the Build conference, but this time the company decided to act more quickly. And almost immediately followed by the announcement of the closure of the Windows 10X project.

Most of the important developments of the canceled operating system will not be lost – they will be added to the “adult” OS. For this, a special Windows 10 Sun Valley update will be released, which will include all the developments of Windows 10X that the company considers important. Recently, a screenshot of the system after the update appeared on the network.

As far as you can tell, the OS changes the Windows 10 Action and Notification Center, including menu control with your finger (the ability to show or hide items). In addition, the corners of some interface elements will be rounded.

Possibly, the possibilities of control using the touch screen and voice will be expanded. What other innovations there will be, remains to be seen.

Windows 10X is not the first and probably not the last canceled OS from Microsoft

Microsoft, like many other companies, has quite a few canceled projects that were initially considered promising. As for Windows 10X, this is the third OS to be canceled for one reason or another.

The first (of the relatively new) operating systems, the development of which was decided to be closed, was Windows RT. She also worked with ARM processors and performed almost the same tasks as the “adult” OS. It went into release, on its basis devices were developed, including tablets of the Microsoft Surface and Nokia Lumia line. But in the end, the OS stopped developing.

In 2017, the company announced the imminent release of Windows 10S – a simplified version of Windows 10. Everything was similar to the current situation. The system was designed for ARM, Windows 32 applications could not be run, it was an OS for basic devices. But it never came out, its developments were used to develop the main line – Windows 10.

The company does not disclose the reasons why both these operating systems and Windows 10X were canceled. It may well be that the leadership of the department engaged in the development of a simplified operating system has come to the conclusion that it is better not to dissipate the forces and resources of the company, but to focus on Windows 10.

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