Windows 10X was supposed to launch this fall for dual-screen and foldable computers including the Microsoft Surface Neo. But those plans have changed.

Earlier this year Microsoft announced this new version of Windows would support only single-screen devices at launch, before eventually coming to dual-screens and foldables.

Now ZDNet reports that launch has been delayed. We might not see Windows 10X on any devices until spring of 2021. And even when it does arrive, it may not be able to do everything Microsoft promised.

Windows 10X is designed to feature a simpler user interface with a mobile-like app launcher. It’s not technically a new operating system, because under the hood it shares a lot of DNA with existing versions of Windows 10.

But Microsoft had planned to support legacy Windows apps (also known as Win32 apps) by running them in containers. This approach can have security benefits, since apps are isolated from the underlying operating system. And it could theoretically help with performance, since your registry doesn’t get bogged down when apps are running in containers.

But Windows Central and ZDNet both report that Win32 app support won’t be available at launch.

That means early Windows 10X computers may only be able to run pre-installed apps like the Microsoft Edge web browser and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store… which seems like an odd move, given that Microsoft has had very little success attracting Windows developers to UWP in recent years.

Recently it had been starting to look like Microsoft was ready to give up on UWP, or at least blur the lines between Win32 and UWP apps.

It’s unclear if the decision to drop Win32 app support for now is because legacy-apps-in-containers approach has led to performance issues or if it’s because Microsoft just wants to offer a simpler, Chromebook-like experience. But either way, Windows 10X sounds like it’s shaping up to be the next Windows RT.

That was Microsoft’s first real attempt at porting Windows to run on computers with ARM-based processors. And it was a flop because, among other things, users couldn’t actually run most of the Windows applications they’re already familiar with.

According to ZDNets’ Mary Jo Foley, “Microsoft hasn’t given up on running Win32 apps in containers on 10X,” but she says that feature is not likely to arrive until 2022 or later.

At that point, I’m starting to wonder if Windows 10X will still be a thing.

That said, it’s worth noting that Microsoft has yet to confirm (or deny) the ZDNet or Windows Central reports.

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  1. Windows 10X seems to be optimized first and foremost for small screens and for the clueless user rather than actually being a version of windows 10 optimized for multiple screens. The lack of a “restore” button on the title bar of every window in every screenshot I’ve seen of 10X so far is a clue.
    Really, you could do a lot towards optimizing windows 10 for multiple screens, and in particular multiple screens on laptops, by adding a title bar button to lock the size/position of a window, and the ability to toggle if windows can float over each other on a particular screen, then pre-configuring powertoys on OEM installations. It’s probably not sufficient and you’d probably want a redesign of the task bar/start menu as well as some way of handling rapid device rotation and folding. But it would be a better starting point than 10X seems to be.