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What’s the deal with Microsoft Windows 10X? Here’s an explainer

You might have heard this term ‘Windows 10X’ quite a few times in the past few months from Microsoft in bits and pieces on the internet. Here’s a detailed explainer on the new OS.

A detailed overview of Windows 10X
A detailed overview of Windows 10X (Microsoft)

Microsoft's Windows 10 is a widely used software and you are probably reading this on the particular OS right now. The operating system is limited to laptop, 2-in-1s, and desktop and has no other adaptation that is publically available yet. However, as the form factor of the consumer technology devices change, companies try to mould an operating system around them for easy navigation and inputs. Something similar is the case with Windows 10X and dual screen devices.

You might have heard this term 'Windows 10X' quite a few times in the past few months from Microsoft in bits and pieces on the internet. So, it's natural to wonder what this operating system actually is and will it change your life in any way. The answer is pretty simple. Here's a short explainer.

What is Microsoft's Windows 10X and how is it different from Windows 10?

Introduced last year during the 'Surface' event, Microsoft Windows 10X is an operating system made for both dual-screen and single-screen devices. The idea is to make touch inputs and engagement with the interface easier on devices like Surface Neo, on which one can work using two screens or a single screen. Microsoft chose to launch 10X for dual-screen devices because the regular Windows 10 version, which you and I are using right now is optimised for just a single screen device. So the Windows 10X's entire interface, UI components, cosmetic and under-the-hood changes, all are designed in a way that makes working on a dual-screen device easier.

Also read: Microsoft previews how apps will work on dual-screen devices

Will Windows 10X be coming to your Windows 10 laptop or desktop?

Not anytime soon. The operating system, which is yet to be released for the masses, will likely stay caged to dual-screen products by Microsoft. Since the company already has Windows 10, it might not fade it away with Windows 10X so soon. But since the new OS is optimised for single-screen use as well, who knows all such devices may run a single software for a better and more consistent experience.

How will Windows 10X work and change the experience for an end user?

If you are using Windows 10X on Microsoft Surface Neo or Surface Duo (when they arrive later this year), you will probably get some advantage as per the information gathered from the internet. For starters, Microsoft announced during the recent 365 Developer Day that the OS can download an update and switch to a newer version in under 90 seconds flat. That's like a dream for many of the Windows users.

The company said that it achieved this by simply keeping the app and its data working in a container, separate from the OS. This is also likely to reduce the number of crashes. What's more is that app developers won't need to optimise their apps for Windows 10X as it can run Win32 apps.

Even the Start Menu that you see everyday on your laptop or PC, is completely overhauled in Windows 10X. It has a system-wide search bar now, which can also be used to search on the web. Like it or not, 10X leaves Live Tiles behind. There will be a 'recommended' area as well that will be dynamic in nature and will change on the basis of your app usage.

Also read: There's a 'Windows 12 Lite' OS in the market but you shouldn't use it

As mentioned in several reports on the web, there could be a new Action Centre as well. This will put more quick actions up front for an easier control of granular functions. You will also get to see other basic functions like volume controls, screen brightness, Do not Disturb, Bluetooth and more. Adding to the list of new features is a Compose Mode as well. This is something you won't get in Windows 10 for now as the mode requires a two screen device to work. What it does is to take one screen and use half of the estate for a keyboard, with the other half of the screen for emojis, gifs and other options. The second screen acts as the monitor.

That said, it is not just the Surface Neo in which you will see Windows 10X running. Some of the OEMs that have confirmed to bring Windows 10X powered devices include Asus, HP, Lenovo and Dell.

Will this run on foldable phones?

No, at least for now. At the time of introducing Windows 10X, Microsoft's head of Surface division, Panos Panay was quite clear in stating that Microsoft's dual screen smartphone, the Surface Duo will run Android while the Windows 10X is limited to large screen devices like Surface Neo. Also, just to be clear, Surface Duo is NOT a foldable handset. Like Neo, it has a clear hinge in between separating the two screens. We are yet to see how Microsoft integrates Android in it.