When it ships late next year, the Microsoft Surface Neo will be the first devices to run Windows 10X, a new version of Windows that’s optimized for dual-screen or foldable computers.
But it won’t be the only Windows 10X device for long. Microsoft says it’s “soon to be followed by devices from Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo.”
We don’t know much about the design, specs, or features of those devices yet. But it’s a safe bet that they’ll all be multi-mode computers that either feature two separate displays or a single flexible display that can be folded in half.
Microsoft does provide one other clue as to what to expect from upcoming hardware: all of the initial Windows 10X devices will be “powered by Intel,” which rules out ARM or AMD processors… at least in the short term.
So what exactly is Windows 10X?
Honestly, Microsoft is being a little vague about that at the moment. On the one hand, the company says it’ll feel familiar to anyone who’s used Windows 10 thanks to a similar user interface. But since it takes more power to drive two screen than one, the company wanted to decrease the battery drain of apps.
So Win32 apps will run in containers, which Microsoft says gives the operating system more control over battery usage by apps.
In other words, it sounds like Microsoft plans to treat traditional Windows desktop apps a bit more like Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps distributed via the Microsoft Store.
That’s probably not the only change. When Microsoft unveiled the Surface Neo, the company showed a bunch of new features including the ability to use cover a portion of one display with a physical keyboard, while using the remaining space as a touchpad, Surface Pen input area, or emoji/GIF locater. You can also watch videos in this small subsection of the window.
There also appears to be some sort of new app launcher/search tool. And there’s a nifty feature that lets you expand an app to span two displays by dragging it to the center and releasing it. Apps like Outlook should automatically reflow in a way that takes advantage of both screens (with the left side showing a list of messages, for example, and the right displaying the currently selected conversation).
It’s unclear if those features will be exclusive to the upcoming Surface Neo or if they’re baked into the operating system in a way that will allow Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo to leverage them as well.
With the launch of Windows 10X about a year away, it’s likely we’ll learn more about the operating system in the coming months as Microsoft tries to court developers to create apps and experiences for the new platform.