Microsoft confirms Windows 10X is not coming in 2021, and likely never will

Windows 10x Mock Laptop Close
Windows 10x Mock Laptop Close (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows 10X is not launching this year.
  • Microsoft will bring the best of 10X to Windows Desktop instead.

Microsoft has today confirmed that Windows 10X will not be launching this year, citing a decision to instead deliver certain parts of Windows 10X on other Windows products instead. Microsoft will be bringing a number of Windows 10X innovations to the full version of Windows this fall.

The blog post doesn't specifically state that Windows 10X is never coming, but it's likely that it never will. If Microsoft is bringing the best of Windows 10X over to the full version of Windows, the need for Windows 10X becomes significantly less obvious.

Microsoft's blog post details the following:

Following a year-long exploration and engaging in conversations with customers, we realized that the technology of Windows 10X could be useful in more ways and serve more customers than we originally imagined. We concluded that the 10X technology shouldn't just be confined to a subset of customers.Instead of bringing a product called Windows 10X to market in 2021 like we originally intended, we are leveraging learnings from our journey thus far and accelerating the integration of key foundational 10X technology into other parts of Windows and products at the company. In fact, some of this is already reflected in the core of Windows in Windows Insider preview builds, for example the new app container technology we're integrating into products like Microsoft Defender Application Guard, an enhanced Voice Typing experience, and a modernized touch keyboard with optimized key sizing, sounds, colors and animations.Our teams continue to invest in areas where the 10X technology will help meet our customer needs as well as evaluate technology experiences both in software and hardware that will be useful to our customers in the future.

Microsoft says Windows 10X features like app container technology in Microsoft Defender Application Guard, a new Voice Typing experience, and a modernized touch keyboard will be coming to Windows users this fall, and are already in testing with Insiders.

We also know that Microsoft is currently working on a major user experience (UX) rejuvenation effort for Windows internally, which is codenamed Sun Valley and is expected to include UI changes such as a centered taskbar and new Start menu UI, among many other UX changes.

Much of this new UX will be inspired by some of the UI changes that Microsoft was exploring on Windows 10X. So, although Windows 10X itself isn't launching, the best parts of the Windows 10X UX still will.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on Windows 10X? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • So with Windows 10X essentially done, what does this mean for dual screen devices that run Windows? Is the Neo and anything like it now going to be stuck running Windows 10 proper? Seems non-intuitive for this type of use case.
  • Does that type of case (2 screens) not work with live tiles? Do tiles flip a lot on two screens?
  • I'd think it to be very clunky with the existing Tablet Mode that Windows offers. I think it would work better if you had it mimic something closer to the existing Start Menu, where you'd have the tiles on one screen and your main actions on the other.
  • They won’t base anything on Tiles again.
  • Live Tiles is irrelevant in regards to this, since the dual screen device needs those Posture feature that Windows 10X has, and it's seamless transition between them. Those Posture is part of the internal CShell, so regular Windows 10 will have to incorporate those feature and replace the legacy shell that we currently have. This should not be technically impossible, just like the transition of complementary new shell from Program Manager to Windows Explorer introduced in Windows 95. Live Tiles is basically a form of Widget system, we can have it on Start and it will indeed be useful for dual screen, than just leaving blank wallpaper. If only Microsoft still wants to push it in the future. Sadly, there is no indication if any improvements on Live Tiles and we already seen Windows 10X without one.
  • There's no reason they can't bring the dual screen shell to Windows 10 proper. Whether they actually will is another matter.
  • They could just treat the other half of the screen as a second monitor. Full screen in vertical orientation would need to span both screens though.
  • Thats exactly how Windows 10 would see the screens
  • Gotta love this quote from the blog post: "This shift in thinking is an incredible example of the company’s value of a growth mindset at work and exemplifies our customer-first focus."
  • That’s why devs looove Microsoft lol
  • Which ones the thousands entry level ones that develop nothing more than dollar value phone apps if not free apps financed by ad revenue... those devs... cause I know a bunch that develop for windows that are perfectly fine or at least not batching like the other ones... but then again they develop more serious software that are used mostly by professionals and that cost a **** tone of money
  • There are very few developers left on Windows and they aren’t building modern software. They are supporting legacy software.
  • I can't even guess what the hell that's supposed to mean. It's like they wrote it with "Corporate Cliche Simulator."
  • It's not something customers care about anyway. Sounds like they're trying to convince themselves this decision was good.
  • It's completely corporate speak, nothing new really, it's pretty much a standard on public announcements. Especially on these things cancelling products or reversing decisions.
  • Which is corporate speak for "we don't see a market for this". They really had a chance with Win32 virtualization, but this would have been DOA without it.
  • If you want Win32, why aren’t you just using full Windows? Microsoft needs something new not tied to Windows at all. They need to put real effort into it and keep it up until it works. It will never happen though. They will keep putting effort into a dead platform, and it will still die just the same. They will have nothing to replace it. Windows will not be mainstream at all within 5 years.
  • i don' t think they care about that. Microsoft's next OS will be Linux based or Unix (MAC OS) based. Why MAC based? Because most Microsoft stuff already runs on it... Why Linux based? Greater synergy with Android. Let me correct my statements.... Microsoft won't have a next client OS... they will just make sure everything they make/sell runs as software as a service on Linux/Android - Unix/MacOS. Even SQLServer almost runs as capable on LInux as it does on Windows... but that's not an obstacle either... In a few years, everyone will be forced to migrate from SQLServer to AZURE....
  • Right! So now customers will focus on light weight devices like chromebooks and non-Windows tablets.
  • I was really looking forward to a brand-new Windows experience. The idea was good. Build a brand new OS from the ground up without being bogged down by legacy support. I think it could have been successful. Especially if Project Late works out like we hope. Having Android apps in the Microsoft Store helps bridge the app gap. It just makes me mad when poeple complain about Windows having all these bugs which get caused because of the Legacy support code but complain when Microsoft tries to move on. They want it both ways. While I don't like Apple's "We're doing this. Get on board with us or get out of the way" attitude, a small dose of this might be a good thing for Microsoft.
  • Unfortunately I think Microsoft waited too long for that approach. iOS and Android are now mature enough that there are plenty of "good enough" solutions for a lot of businesses and consumers, especially with the recent updates to iPadOS. If Microsoft pulls a "do it this way or get left behind" approach now, devs have no incentive to remake programs as UWP (for a brand new version of Windows with no users yet) when they can just redevelop it for iOS and have access to the billions of iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Microsoft dragged their feet and played nice for too long and now if a dev has to start from scratch they may as well go where the users are.
  • What people are complaining about isn't really trying to get it both ways. Microsoft's not gone between old, buggy code and clean, new code. Did you experience Windows 10 Mobile? They released it with quite a lot of bugs. Have you read about (or used) the Surface Duo? They've taken Android, which has matured and become increasingly polished over the last decade, and brought all kinds of reliability issues because they couldn't get their software additions to par with other foldables. Microsoft is pretty far removed from being reliable on releasing things elegantly or in a way users can trust. Microsoft's tried it a number of ways, and they've all ended up a mess. You're talking about Project Late and Android emulation, but we played that game already. Remember how Project Astoria was goin to bring Android apps to Windows Phones, then Microsoft couldn't make it work? This is more about Microsoft's repeated struggles than unrealistic expectations.
  • This seems like a mistake as an outsider. The really big innovations of Windows 10X surely cannot make there way to Windows 10. At this rate I see Windows slowly slipping behind rivals due to its age and dated code base. I hope Microsoft is going to build on 10X in the background until it is good enough to replace Windows as a platform for the majority of people. This includes better Win32 support and performance as well as the ability to run on any PC. Microsoft doesn't need an ChromeOS clone, it needs a Windows rewrite - which no doubt, is a huge task.
  • The "we need a Windows rewrite" people are just that: outsiders who don't particularly like or use Windows to begin with. Because you know what? Windows IS the platform for the majority of people. More than 80% of the PCs that sold last year run Windows. ChromeOS, macOS and Linux combined for the rest. A good chunk of those have specific needs that Windows can't provide and another chunk of the rest are simply diehard fans of other platforms who aren't going to switch no matter what Microsoft does. It isn't Windows that "needs" to do anything. Instead it is Apple - who has been around since the 1970s and can't reach 10% market share - that needs to do something. For all the endless hype that the media has been generating over that company ever since the iPod 20 years ago it hasn't moved the needle. And/or it is Google who needs to make ChromeOS into a legit option for professional and power users instead of just cheap options targeting education and small business users. Until either happens, Windows is the dominant platform for people who actually use PCs. The people who write about tech want you to believe that it is macOS but it isn't. The same with Android ... it actually has 85% market share but when you read the media it is all "iPhone, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch" and you would never know.
  • I don’t think Apple is looking to gain that market. They are happy taking all the profits with high end PCs. They could put a huge dent in sales by releasing a $499 MacBook. Maybe next year after the M2 is released. The M1 would make for a killer low end laptop.
  • Everything you said is pretty off-base. It's not outsiders saying Microsoft needs to modernize Windows. Microsoft is the one who talked up UWP with Windows Phone 8. They talked about the "One Windows" experience of Windows 10 Mobile. They're trying to sell us on the Surface Pro X and Windows 10 ARM. They brought us the Neo prototype and Windows 10X. Those aren't outsiders, that's the management of Microsoft saying Windows needs modernized. Windows might have 80% of the market, but that's a shrinking percentage, and non-Windows PCs grew in the market more during COVID than Windows ones. It's also a market that's shrinking over time, so winning the legacy battle isn't a great triumph as devices running Android and iOS begin to replace PCs as people's primary computing devices and the post-smartphone experience (foldables and the like) start to further the ability to leave desktops behind. Google has already made a compelling argument for Chrome OS in the education/low-end sector. Apple's making iPad OS a "do enough for daily users" platform. Microsoft, on the other hand, has failed to produce a software package that has a use case other than "well, you've used it this long, right?" They're not too big to fail, that's what you're basically arguing. They've shown signs of decline for their target market, and the entire industry acknowledges that home PCs, particularly the desktops that advantage Microsoft most, are on their way out.
  • "Windows IS the platform for the majority of people. " Windows is the platform for the majority of laptop / desktop users. Definitely not smartphones or tablets. The Android user base is 3X the size of Windows 10 and when you combine iOS / iPadOS users, Apple's user base for those platforms is equal to Windows 10. macOS is still small with 130 million users. So when you look at strictly the consumer space and the totality of the operating systems that are used, Windows does not represent the majority. When it comes to the enterprise, that's a different story.
  • Make Windows 11 then.
  • As long as the features make their way into Windows 10 and MS can containerize legacy code and auto-sandbox applications, this could all be fine. Remember the disaster launches of Windows 8 and Windows RT. If MS can bridge to the advantages of Windows 10x in a more seamless way (maybe that's a really big IF), then that's better than splitting the OS.
  • Auto sandboxing is a lot harder than it sounds. It would break a lot of apps.
    MSIX like containerization is highly compatible but it's very limited in what it covers.
  • Windows has been developed as a desktop OS, not a mobile OS and Microsoft has not been successful in mobile. That said, Microsoft should focus on fixing problems with Windows 10 such as moving everything from Control Panel to Settings, making the Microsoft Store better and cleaning up Windows 10 - making all the menus consistent and improving the Start Menu
  • This isn't a big deal. We are never going back to the 1988-2005 era of "one size fits all" computing. Now there are a variety of computing options to suit any number of uses, demographics, niches etc. There is no need for Microsoft to come out with a product to fill all of them.
  • Microsoft's not really released a product to meet any new computing market except HoloLens, which is an uber-niche space in computing. Windows 10 ARM doesn't do anything of significance against legacy Windows. Surface is no longer a unique product as competitors have made similar products or alternatives (such as the Yoga) that provides an experience that's arguably better (superior keyboard, port selections, etc.). While there might not be a "one size fits all" future, there is an expectation of users for a cohesive experience across devices. Apple manages this with iOS, iPad OS, watchOS, and Mac OS (which has become increasingly so with the M1's release). Google's got Wear OS, Android, Chrome OS, and a set of home automation devices to lock you into its ecosystem. Microsoft's got legacy Windows. After that, it's a line of corpses that doesn't speak provide a lot of confidence for anyone considering Microsoft as their go-to tech company. If you're looking around at your options from Microsoft, you'll find a pretty diverse pile of failed experiments that leave them well behind the competition. Most famously, you have Microsoft's mobile efforts (which spans 3 different mobile OS attempts). That alone makes it hard to trust what Microsoft will commit to, but then you have Cortana (both the assistant herself and Cortana-connected devices like the Invoke), Windows RT, Kinect, Band, and can expand to things like their Xbox Entertainment Studios and Zune, if you wanted to look beyond physical products. Microsoft's "meet you where you are" philosophy has made it much easier for people to pick and choose when they want to go with Microsoft. It's also made expansion more complex because they have so little control over who runs the show while they go to iOS and Android and the rest.
  • So I guess they are giving up on the education and low cost markets (and maybe dual screen devices) that 10X was intended to address? Because I don't see how they are going to attack that market's competitors with an OS that still has to deal with all the Win32 legacy support.
  • Yeah this is my biggest concern. There needs to be Windows for cheap devices. Maybe they're thinking Windows Desktop performance on cheap devices is good enough.
  • It isn’t the performance that is the biggest issue, it is how complicated they are to manage. You don’t need an IT department with a Chromebook.
  • Well Microsoft already serving this with existing Windows 10 SKU. Even giving discounts for education customers. The thing is why also Chrome OS is gaining traction on education market isn't just about the cost, but ease of administration and maintenance, less things to go broken as well. Windows 10 just so happens to have too much bloat that if something goes wrong or don't work the way the small IT team in school (heck maybe just one person) can manage, it is a downtime and cost to the school. Windows 10X is supposed to address that due to fresh OS that does not have the legacy bloat of Windows 10, thus making it easier to administer and maintain. Example the seamless new Windows Update system. OS is lighter, thus will run well on low-end hardware better and less occurrence with lags or occassional freezes.
  • Disappointing, but if they can bring all the features to proper Windows 10 then who cares.
  • This is great news, especially for handheld gaming PC devices, like the Aya Neo, One Xplayer, GPD Win 3, etc, as they will now get better touch keyboards, and an overall better touch UI.
  • True, well Tablet Mode could have work better on those devices considering their tiny screen. But Tablet Mode hasn't got any improvements since like first Creators Update, and it was just fixing some animations and bugs and change to integrate Timeline. Tablet Mode in Windows 10 has been an afterthought since the beginning. But with those devices like GPD Win for example, it would be best if there is a Game Dashboard UI based of Xbox Dashboard, which is optimal for joystick and dpad use. This is where the Posture feature should come in.
  • Those little GPDs are very niche devices. Microsoft's own Surface Neo ended up becoming one and it may never see the light of day. I'm fine with that, Windows runs fine on Surface tablets.
  • I thought 10X was intended to finally remove the fat from Windows. I'm guessing this means no more education market, low cost devices, ARM devices, dual screen phones (I doubt they will release another Android version), and no battery efficient devices. Looks like it's all enterprise and gaming from here.
  • It's not nearly as doom and gloom as you make it seem. Microsoft still has a bunch of low cost and ARM devices (and both) clearly in the pipeline. + ARM is likely the future. They are battery efficient and they don't need 10X to exist.
    The only loss here is the education market it seems.
  • Honestly, I'm so over Microsoft as a consumer. Love the services for work but you are not going to catch me spending my own money with them... Yes I'm bitter
  • I'm starting to feel the same way.
    While my SP7 performs well for work, I'll probably switch to a Dell XPS next.
    The Duo experience is becoming more of a mess with every update, and with 10X gone, so will be the Neo.
    I'll stick with Windows, but if it comes to hardware, especially on the consumer/prosumer end, it's just not worth the hastle.
  • I predict that the Fall update, if there's substantial enough UI changes, will be rebranded as Windows 10X. That name is too good for Microsoft to pass over especially if they're looking for a PR boost and a rebranding come this holiday season.
  • It would have been nice to have a version of Windows that was more streamlined and at least allowed you to run Win32 apps in a secure container as originally intended, thereby giving you the best of both worlds (modern, streamlined and secure OS + legacy app compatibility), but alas it will make its way into standard Windows 10 instead, which at least has me even more excited about Sun Valley.
  • Would love to have Win10X up against iPadOS
  • So, RIP Neo?
  • "If Microsoft is bringing the best of Windows 10X over to the full version of Windows, the need for Windows 10X becomes significantly less obvious." This is a wrong conclusion. The more obvious reason for this is that they want to eventually move eveybody to Win 10X when it's ready, and by bringing these technologies to the current Windows 10 it will allow for a a smoother transition.