Microsoft shifts Windows 10X focus to single-screen devices

The change in strategy signals that Microsoft's dual-screen devices will be kicked further into the long grass

The focus of Windows 10X, the iteration of Microsoft’s flagship operating system devised to power dual-screen devices such as the Surface Neo, will shift to conventional single-screened devices.

Although the Microsoft Surface Duo and Surface Neo dual-screen devices were initially set to be launched in late 2020, reports suggested last month that the manufacturer had delayed the release of these devices until 2021.

The tech giant has now confirmed that focus on Windows 10X, developed specifically to power these devices, will pivot to fit single-screen devices due to the inherent “flexibility” of the operating system. Specifically, Windows 10X will ship with devices designed to “leverage the power of the cloud”. 

“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,” the firm confirmed in a blog post.

There are several key differences between Microsoft’s flagship Windows 10 operating system, and the 10X variant, mainly that it’s based on Windows Core OS, a platform from which all future Microsoft operating systems are expected to be based around. It’s the modern-day equivalent of Windows NT.

One key difference is that the Windows 10X will run traditional desktop applications through a single and combined container that generates a barebones version of Windows 10 in the background, meaning this won’t interfere with the core functions of 10X.

The Windows 10X user interface (UI) is also fully adaptive and adjusts depending on the orientation of the device in use. A foldable dual-screen clamshell device, such as the Surface Neo, for example, could be used in several ways including tablet mode, conventional notebook mode, or stood up in ‘tent mode’, with the operating system adapting each way.

Other key UI differences include a refreshed start menu, new taskbar, and a notifications centre, among other aesthetic features.

Although a number of prominent manufacturers, including Samsung, Huawei and Motorola, have entered the dual-screen device market, it’s been an incredibly rocky ride.

The infamous Galaxy Fold of 2018, for instance, was launched “before it was ready”, according to the Samsung CEO DJ Koh. The rebooted Motorola Razr, meanwhile, faced delays to its launch after it was announced towards the end of 2019.

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