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Microsoft has reportedly postponed and possibly cancelled Windows 10X, the simplified alternative to Windows that Microsoft had originally intended to compete with Chromebooks.
An initial report from Petri.com claimed that Windows 10X is not shipping in 2021. Windows Central says it’s confirmed the report as well, stating that development work on Windows 10X has apparently ground to a halt. Neither report has been confirmed nor denied by Microsoft; a company representative said that Microsoft has “nothing to share.”
In 2019, Microsoft announced Windows 10X at a New York event that also marked the debut of the Surface Neo, a folding tablet that was originally designed to run a version of Windows, most probably Windows 10X. Neither has yet to ship. (Microsoft also launched the Surface Duo, a two-screen folding Android phone that debuted to lukewarm reviews and quietly faded.)
Windows 10X was originally designed as an operating system for the emerging ecosystem of dual-screened devices, a “brand new expression” for Windows, Microsoft hardware chief Panos Panay said then. And it was, indeed, cool, as our hands-on with the dual-screen version of Windows 10X revealed at the time.
But during the pandemic year of 2020, the wheels began coming off. As the Surface Duo failed to gain traction, reports began circulating that single-screen devices had, er, resurfaced as Microsoft’s new priority. Suddenly, Windows 10X and its simplified UI was seen as a replacement for Windows 10 S and a challenge to Chromebooks. Those reports were confirmed in May, 2020, as Microsoft shifted from a dual-screen back to a traditional single-display approach.
One of the characteristics of Windows 10X was its container model, so that legacy Win32 apps could be walled off. But in July, more leaks indicated that Microsoft would ditch the Windows 10X container model, too. Finally, last fall, Windows 10X leaked as a single-screen OS, and we tried it. But that’s the last we’ve seen of it. Windows 10X’s appeal has since been reduced to a simplified UI that eliminated much of the cruft associated with legacy versions of Windows.
Coincidentally, Microsoft has also begun working on a UI revamp for Windows reportedly scheduled for the second half of 2021, code-named “Sun Valley.” There’s no indication at all that “Sun Valley” will take on the look and feel of Windows 10X. However, the implication in the reports today is that some of the UI elements in Windows 10X could be migrated into Windows, whether it be in Sun Valley or some future release.
Will that happen? We’ll have to wait and see. For now, however, it looks like Microsoft is refocusing on the traditional Windows 10 you use every day.
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As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats.