Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Neo dual-screen tablet will run a brand new version of Windows when it ships in late 2020. It’s called Windows 10 X, and all Microsoft has officially said about the OS so far is that it’s designed for dual-screen PCs and that third-party PC makers are also working on devices that will run the operating system.

But now a series of leaked Microsoft documents paint a broader picture of what to expect from Windows 10X.

Among other things, it won’t only run on dual screen devices. Overall it seems like an operating system that combines classic Windows features and a modern, touch-friendly, mobile-optimized user interface.

For the most part, the operating system will work like Windows: it supports legacy applications as well as Windows Store or “Universal Windows Platform” apps.

But the taskbar, start menu (now called the Launcher), quick settings, and lock screen have all been modified.

According to the leaked documents, which seem to be aimed at developers, here are a few things to expect from Windows 10X:

Lock Screen

“When the screen turns on, you are immediately brought to a state of authentication; unlike Windows 10 where you first need to dismiss the Lock Curtain before authenticating.”

In other words, set up Windows Hello facial recognition and a PIN and when you press the power button on your device, all you’ll need to do is look at it to login and get to your desktop almost instantly.

Launcher

This seems to be one of the biggest changes in Windows 10x. The start menu has been replaced with a new Launcher, which displays:

  • A search bar at the top
  • An app and website grid below it
  • Recommendations on the bottom

Microsoft says users can drag and drop apps and websites to rearrange the grid in the Launcher, or click the “show all” option to expand the grid and show everything installed.

There’s also support for creating app folders and groups by stacking apps together. Or you can remove them from your device by removing them from the grid.

In order to show websites, you can install them as apps using the Edge web browser.

Recommendations include “zero input suggestions” based on your usage — recently installed apps are displayed as well as frequently used apps, files, and websites. The Launcher shows “up to 10 high-confidence recommendations” at a time, and there’s a “show more” option to expand the list.

Microsoft says the Launcher supports touch, keyboard, and voice input.

Taskbar

The new taskbar sounds like an evolution of what we have in Windows 10 today.

You’ll be able to use it to launch or switch between apps by clicking their icons. You can see currently running apps and/or pin apps for easy access. And multiple instances of an app can be grouped together under the same icon.

There’s a new Recent app icon that will display recently used apps, whether they’re currently running or not (much the way mobile operating systems already do).

And while the screenshots we’ve seen so far show a taskbar with icons in the center instead of aligned to the left, it seems like the taskbar will be adaptable depending on the type of device you’re using.

For example, on a clamshell-style laptop, you may have a left-aligned taskbar, while foldables and tablets may have centered icons.

Microsoft says different use cases could call for different numbers of pinned apps, recent apps, and other variations.

Quick Settings

Microsoft seems to be planning to streamline access to the settings you need to modify most often.

While I haven’t seen any screenshots of the new Quick Settings view yet, Microsoft says the goal is to be:

  • Efficient: Users can quickly modify their critical device settings
  • Focused: Only show important device settings so users are not distracted by other settings
  • At A Glance: Quickly see the state of your device
  • Relevant: Give users power to tailor the surface according to their needs

Default settings will include WiFi, Cellular data, Bluetooth, Mobile Hotspot, Airplane mode, Input language, Rotation lock, Do Not Disturb, Accessibility, Battery Saver, and Location.

Conclusion

Basically, it seems like the latest attempt to make a tablet-specific version of Windows, rather than cramming a tablet UI onto a desktop OS the way Microsoft did with Windows 8. What remains to be seen is whether Microsoft plans to continue developing two different versions of Windows indefinitely, or if Windows 10X is the future. I suspect that depends on how people respond to it when it launched in late 2020.

Of course, that’s a long time from now (in tech time), so there’s a chance the details listed above could change by the time Windows 10X is available to the public.

via WalkingCat, @m, and 

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12 replies on “Windows 10X documents describe an OS that blends desktop and mobile concepts”

  1. One of the big selling points of Windows 10 is “The Start Menu is Back!” Now Microsoft wants to take the Start Menu away again? Lame!

  2. If this better enables using a 5-6 inch screened UMPC but still be able run desktop apps when I want to, then I’m for it.

  3. This is the version of Windows that you skip. Remember:
    Windows 98: ok
    Windows Millennium: bad
    Xp: ok
    Vesta: bad
    7: ok
    8: bad
    10: ok
    10x:… Bad?

    1. Isn’t 10X more like a… Windows RT? If so…
      Windows RT (1st gen -> bad)
      Windows 10X (2nd gen RT -> ok)

        1. No, it’s more like…

          Windows CE 1.0: bad
          Windows CE 2.0: good
          Windows Pocket PC Edition 2000: bad
          Windows Pocket 2002-2003: good
          Windows Pocket 2004: bad
          Windows Mobile 5.0: good
          Windows Mobile 6.0, 6.1, 6.5: bad (get an iPhone/Android)

          Windows Phone 7: good
          Windows Phone 7.5: bad
          Windows Phone 8: good
          Windows Phone 8.1: bad
          Windows 10 Mobile: good

          WindowsRT: bad
          Windows 10S: good
          Windows 10X: bad

  4. I doubt it’s going to be good enough to outright replace windows 10 on anything that isn’t a tablet. The last time they went “lets blend windows UI with phone UI because people clearly LOVE phone UI and phone UI is SO INTUITIVE” we ended up with windows 8.
    And what I see here doesn’t look very promising.

  5. I’m not loving the New Taskbar, can’t put my finger on it, but the Superbar from Windows7 and Windows10 still looks and feels superior.

    So Microsoft has officially killed the Widows 8 Start Page in favour of the Hybrid Start Button in Windows 10. And now they’re changing that Start Button to something like an App Drawer from Android. That’s interesting. Definitely a downgrade for laptops, but probably an upgrade for tablets.

    The Quick Settings is confusing. It has issues on some Windows 10 systems, but others are pretty good. So not sure if the new version is superior or inferior.

    The New Lock Screen….. finally! I’ve been complaining about the old one forever now.

    Overall, I see some improvements. However, I don’t think Windows10 will be changed based on people’s response to this. Microsoft will do what MS does. This means they’ll probably incorporate the good things to W10 but implement it bad. Yep, that’s my level of confidence with those guys. They seem to be incompetent at many important things like Design and Security, but at the same time, they’re also slow and sometimes adequate. I think once people get over Legacy Programs, the playfield will be levelled, and maybe the better Operating System will win between Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.

  6. This sounds like a great opportunity for Microsoft to finally implement my longtime dream feature… Tiling Window management! They need to take a long hard look at i3wm in Linux.

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