Microsoft puts dual-screen devices and Windows 10X in the too-hard basket

Windows 10’s billion users want comfort food and Redmond’s ready to ladle it out as better Bluetooth

Microsoft has repurposed Windows 10X, the new cut of its OS introduced in October 2019 to run on dual-screen devices.

When announcing Windows 10X Microsoft said it "is designed for new dual-screen PCs and not as an OS upgrade if you already own a PC." Microsoft also suggested that users who put the OS in harness with dual-screen devices would experience amazing productivity boosts. And then it said both Windows 10X and dual-screen gadgetry like its own Surface Neo would appear for pre-Christmas-2020 sales.

Now Microsoft has backed away from Windows 10X as a built-for-dual-screen Windows, and cast doubt on when dual-screen gadgets will appear.

A new post by chief product officer for windows and devices Panos Panay said:

With Windows 10X, we designed for flexibility, and that flexibility has enabled us to pivot our focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices that leverage the power of the cloud to help our customers work, learn and play in new ways. These single-screen devices will be the first expression of Windows 10X that we deliver to our customers, and we will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market.

What’s changed?

A certain virus, from the sound of things.

“The world is a very different place than it was last October when we shared our vision for a new category of dual-screen Windows devices,” Panay wrote. “As we continue to put customers’ needs at the forefront, we need to focus on meeting customers where they are now. Our customers are leveraging the power of the cloud more than ever, and we believe the time is right to lean into this acceleration in a different way.”

Microsoft will reveal what that means at its virtual Build conference from May 18th. Panay teased that news by saying “We are going to share how we will reduce complexity for developers by making it easier than ever to build for all 1 billion Windows 10 devices, all at once. We will share how we will enable developers to build applications that seamlessly enable cloud-powered virtualization.”

The post does not, however, offer any explanation about how the promised productivity revolution delivered by the combo of dual screen devices and Windows 10X will come about with the OS on single-screen devices. Or if the announcements planned for Build will reveal those plans.

All is not lost because 10X had architectural interest beyond the dual-screen angle. As Microsoft explained when announcing the OS, 10X would include "newly implemented support for running Win32 applications in a container" plus "further componentization and additional investments ... to deliver more flexible experiences with a wide range of input types and hardware postures all while managing Windows applications and how they use the battery."

Which sounds like a worthy upgrade. Perhaps more so than the Windows 10 update emerging later this May. Panay wrote that refresh brings with it “a more streamlined way to pair Bluetooth devices in Windows” and “an improved tablet experience when you detach your 2-in-1’s keyboard, allowing you to keep the familiarity of your desktop while at the same time optimizing for touch.”

Windows 10X will presumably be just a little more profound. ®

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