Windows 10X is Microsoft’s new operating system designed for dual-screen and foldable devices, although it also has some features that could make it an interesting new option for traditional tablets and laptops.

While the operating system is still a work in progress, this week Microsoft released a set of Windows 10X development tools including a Windows 10X emulator. And in practically no time flat, folks started figuring out how to install Windows 10X on hardware that it’s not supposed to run on.

If you want to play along at home, there’s a set of instructions — but I’d suggest reading them all before getting started and then proceeding with caution if you still want to proceed at all.

Just want to see what Windows 10X looks like on existing device? Twitter user @imbusho has it up and running on a MacBook, while @stroughtonsmith installed the operating system on a Surface Go.

Both note that there are driver issues. And the instructions mentioned above assume you’re installing Windows 10X on a computer with no other operating system — so you’ll probably end up losing any data you haven’t backed up first. The instructions are also aimed at fairly advanced computer users, so there are plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong. And when all is said and done, you’ll find yourself with a beta version of an operating system that’s probably not designed for whatever hardware you’re running it on.

In other words, it’s a cool trick. But it’s probably not one you should try unless you’ve got a spare computer collecting dust and a bit of free time on your hands. And even if everything goes according to plan, you may have to do some hacking to get things like the graphics adapter and/or wireless hardware to work properly.

While it’s interesting to see folks start to kick the tires of Microsoft’s Windows 10X developer tools and do things like install the operating system on unsupported hardware, we probably won’t know the true costs & benefits of using the new operating system until the stable version is released and devices begin shipping with the operating system pre-installed.

Windows 10X is system optimized for dual-screen devices thanks to native support for spanning apps across two screens, viewing apps in side-by-side windows, and allowing apps to behave differently depending on whether they’re on a single screen or two.

While Windows 10X will support most existing Win32 and Universal Windows Platform apps, it runs apps in containers that are isolated from the underlying operating system. This means that apps won’t be able to make changes to the system registry that could cause a computer to get slower over time — a Windows 10X device should boot just as quickly on day 730 as it does on day one. And uninstalling an app should remove everything without leaving behind any unwanted traces. But some legacy apps may not work properly in this containerized environment, so it’s possible that like Windows on ARM, Windows 10X won’t be compatible with every app you can run on a Windows 10 computer today.

Until we find out just how widespread app compatibility issues will be, it’s a little hard to say if Windows 10X is the future of Windows… or just another version of the operating system that will be available alongside the full version of Windows 10.

I wouldn’t mind some of the new features — another I’m particularly interested in is operating system updates that download and install in the background (much like Chrome OS and Android), which means that a 90-second reboot is all it takes to upgrade the OS. But if some of the key Windows apps I rely on are incompatible, then I’d be reluctant to spend more than a few hundred bucks on a Windows 10X device that can’t function as a primary computer.

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5 replies on “You can install Windows 10X on various computers (but you probably shouldn’t)”

  1. I’m hoping this OS will breathe new life into older devices.
    Specifically I have a few machines made in the late Win 8, 8.1 days that were intentionally underpowered and had small storage because they “didn’t need it because Windows is so lightweight”.
    If you try put the latest Win 10 on them you either can’t or they barely run. They work fine on 8, 8.1 and early versions of Win 10 like 1507 but you get no security updates and constant nags to update.

    1. This is the wrong place to ask such a question. You’ve also likely the entirety of Google’s web crawler/search engine at your disposal, I assume?

  2. Can’t wait for Monday to start playing with this. Hopefully, I can install it on a VM and get a taste.

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