If you’ve heard about Microsoft’s new OS – Windows 10X and were confused over whether or not this was just an upgraded version of Windows 10, we’ve got you. Hang tight as we take a dive into this new Microsoft release and attempt to offer to-the-point answers to your Windows 10X questions.
In 2019, Microsoft intended Windows 10X as a new Windows version, compatible with dual-screen and foldable PCs. However, as the global pandemic hit in 2020 Microsoft switched to a focus on releasing Windows 10X on cloud-based, single-screen devices instead. The company expressed ambiguity over its initial intent to release Windows 10X on dual-screen devices, based on partnership with OEM manufacturers.
Is Windows 10X a Windows 10 upgrade?
Short answer – no. Windows 10X is a cloud-focused OS, originally designed for dual-screen devices but which will initially work on lightweight, notebook-style tablets and laptops. Rather than an upgraded version of Windows 10, many regard Windows 10X as a stripped-back version of Windows 10 – a bit like Google’s Chrome OS, aimed at remote workers, schools, etc. Windows 10X lacks several Windows 10 features such as Cortana and uses a much-simplified interface.
Unlike with Windows 10, updates will now be implemented automatically, taking around 2 minutes or less.
On a technical front, because Windows 10X is built from the same code base as Windows 10 (Windows Core OS), it contains some similarities to Windows 10. However, it will not work on hardware running Windows 10 – just on hardware customised for Windows 10X. This means that to get Windows 10X, you will have to purchase a device that has it pre-installed as Windows 10X is currently unavailable as a standalone version.
On a visual front, the Windows 10 X interface features a simple taskbar with centrally displayed pinned icons. The Start menu also features icons from which you can run Windows 10 apps and web apps, and is visually similar to the Chrome OS interface without live tiles. Unlike in Windows 10, there are no right-sided notification icons, and no options to right-click to customise content. Also, instead of a dedicated file manager, you get a bare-boned file browser for use with OneDrive.
Windows 10X and apps compatibility
Just like Chrome OS, Windows 10X will be compatible with web apps. While traditional Microsoft Office desktop apps will be incompatible with Windows 10X, Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions come with web app versions that are compatible with Windows 10X.
As well as web apps, Windows 10X is reported to run simple apps downloadable from the Microsoft store, also known as Universal Windows Platform apps or UWP apps. In Windows 10X, these apps run inside containers that tap native Windows 10X features, with less impact on systems resources and more control over privacy and security, than traditional Win32 app containers. Microsoft is rumoured to offer no Win32 support with the first edition of Windows 10X, with a possibility for inclusion at a later stage.
How soon will I be able to buy a Windows 10X-enabled device?
Initially, there was some speculation that Microsoft was going to release the first Windows 10X devices in the first half of 2021, to education and enterprise customers for a start. However, it is more likely that these will be released in the latter half of 2021 with an expected retail price of under $AU770. For consumers, devices are expected to be released sometime in 2022.