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:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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