Windows 10X in images: Microsoft's new OS is gorgeous

Windows 10X Start
Windows 10X Start (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft is finally letting the public play with Windows 10X via a new emulator that's designed to let developers test their apps on the upcoming OS. It's our first real look at Windows 10X, and first impressions, even this early on, is that it's looking good. Aesthetically, Windows 10X is everything I've ever wanted from a clean and consistent UI in Windows. It's seriously pretty, minimalistic, and fun to use.

Windows 10X is a complete rebuild of the Windows user experience, with new sounds, animations, and more to boot. That's one of the reasons why Windows 10X looks as good as it does. Gone are all the legacy components and features of old Windows such as Control Panel. It's all modern code from here.

You can check out some of those sounds and animations in our hands-on video, but if you prefer screenshots, we've got you covered above. Windows 10X also has a dark mode, which we've also included screenshots of at the end of the gallery. Keep in mind, the current build of Windows 10X is prerelease software, and as such, is not representative of the final products. Things may change between now and launch.

For those who want to try out the Windows 10X emulator themselves, make sure you head to the Microsoft Developer Documentation (opens in new tab) website to get started. Windows 10X will be launching later this year, and will be available first on the dual-screen Surface Neo from Microsoft.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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

  • This. Thing. Is. Gorgeous.
    Wish I could install this on a conventional Windows 10 tablet to test it out.
  • agreed.... looks like a nice tablet/touch UI
  • Who uses a tablet ui on a pc? Not business folks. Not gamers.
  • Surface Neo is not aimed at either group, so what does your comment have to do with anything? Also, you don't think companies use iPads? Don't IT much, eh?
  • Exactly. I'm an IT administrator at a large company and we primarily use Windows tablets and iPads. I can tell you that I'm excited for Windows 10X as an IT administration tool. Since most of our tools are based on Win32 (I've moved many to UWP but not fully yet), it shouldn't be a problem for us to move to Windows 10X.
  • I'm a gamer and business user. I use Win10-Tabletmode all the time on my Surface Book 2.
  • What's nice about it? The entire thing is shown on the first image of the launcher. That launcher was used by my grandmother in 93 as Windows 3.1 Program Manager. Interesting to see the apple inspired glass notification tab. Otherwise this is nonsense
  • I wish the launcher had better design. It's too Android / chrome OS like.
  • What's frustrating is that Android/ChromeOS-like is exactly what people want. Microsoft tried doing something unique and interesting and the market rejected it. So here we are.
  • Unique/interesting isn't putting squares around everything and removing all the functionality from widgets. That is lame and that interface failed because of it.
  • Well said. I was wondering what's so nice? I looked at every image looking for something striking. But I didn't see anything special at all. Oh, yes please lets bring back static icons. Whoa! That's so special. Not! The 90's is calling. They wan't their icons back. Sheesh....
  • It will do just as well as windows 8.
  • Or, it could do quite well.
  • Well, that was a waste of electrons.
  • What's the historical data you use for that optimism?
  • It will obviously do better because it will have the Auto-Fail, "Waa-Waa I want a Classic Windows 7/10 interface!" fallback baked in for Business. But, I have reserved a place for it on my MS Wall of Extinct OSs.
  • No it won't. It won't be used in business, except in specific cases where it makes sense. This isn't going to replace the average workers laptop, not for years at least.
  • If you want Windows 7 replacement just get Windows 10. Its great. This is not intended to replace Win10, atleast not yet.
  • I think it's kind of bland personally. But that's OK as long as it works well. One day, if the software I need works well on W10X, I might hop on over. Deep down I'd love a device like the Neo - it just looks so awesome, and I always wanted a great tablet experience that can turn into a great desktop/laptop experience.
  • I've been using this for years- it's called Chrome OS. Serious- looks exactly the same.
  • You mean Windows 3.1
  • Uhm ... no. ... checking pictures ... It looks closer to iOS than ChromeOS.
  • No icons on home screen, center based task bar, yup, that is ChromeOS.
  • Yay baby! Static icons!!! 🙄
  • The "new" start menu is just ugly IMO
    And I thought they were about to separate the quick actions from that panel ? instead they're adding a music part ? IMO that should be with the sound control. Here there's too many different features behind the same button
  • That might be true re: too many features behind one button. But we'll have to see how it works - that is, I'll have too see how much I like it in person.
  • The design looks 5 years old. I'm still convinced that not having full or even more advanced live tile, as familiar in windows 8 and 10, is at least the missing special sauce to consider this shell/UI gorgeous. In my experience the lack of this feature going forward looks and feels like a regression in time.
  • With the lack of UWPs, we also lack content for live tiles. And live tiles did make only sense with content. I miss them too, but i think we need to accept that.
  • Design looks dated. No wow factor. But I have good Hope's for Win10x as long as MS doesn't mess it up.
  • Totally agree. Looks like a massive step back. With Windows 10, MS had come up with their own unique look and a demonstrably better UI than the standard 'grid of icons' mess that is iOS and Android. Windows 10X just looks like a copy-cat OS, leaving behind all the innovation. While I like the new Office icons (although I miss the pure white outlines), the other 'new' icons of 10X look just like so many Android icon packs. Same thing has happened with the new Edge, just another Chrome clone, dropping all the brilliant UI of the original Edge. It's sad to see what, to my eyes, looks like MS losing faith in themselves.
  • Windows 10 debuted a mobile UI? Since when?
  • Windows 10 refined what Windows 8 started.
  • It hid Windows 8's interface.
  • Agree, sadly this is the case with Windows 10 X at the moment. I love the new changes but a step back loosing that Live Tiles or even evolving it into widgets, which other mobile platforms like Android and iOS/iPadOS do support. The new Start Menu is now the simple launcher that does nothing much. Only new thing is that the Recent which is basically Timeline but with only few items with now interesting looking thumbnails. Certainly not as powerful as the Windows Timeline in Windows 10 X where it shows you all the history and have search and timeline scrollbar. I have a feeling that the Recent wont be as useful to me since it only shows too few items and I can't go back any further. The app list is also too flat in terms of menu system. No folder support for Win32 apps which will quickly bloat the all apps list and no letter jumping feature like we see in All Apps in Windows 10. There is no Jumplist feature that I can see either, though maybe this is simply because it is unfinished and not deliberate omission. I hope that at least Windows 10 X will support widgets and have it pinned in the desktop as well, which is currently blank. Make use of existing Live Tiles API so at least developers won't have to learn new stuff again and abandon their existing functionality with Live Tiles.
  • Looks a bit like a chrome book... plus, Microsoft includes a copy of chromium.. maybe they should rename it windows-chromium-X
  • It is gorgeous because the stupid, flashing, spinning, "hey-look-at-me-even-though-I-look-EXACTLY-like-every-other-stupid-flashing-spinning-blue-square" live tiles are gone. Did I mention that "live tiles" was a stupid idea?
  • Live Tiles don't make much sense in a pop-up Start Menu (maybe helpful for quick poll on temperature in weather apps), but they are VERY useful on a home page for a device that you may just glance at between meetings. Android's widgets accomplish a similar effect, but Live Tiles were more elegant in that every app had one and they all worked in a consistent way. Live Tiles also would have made great sense for desk PC's if we could have put them on the desktop (for live News, Weather, etc. feeds, with a large multi-monitor configuration, Live Tiles would be great to provide info in those otherwise unused corners of the desktop), but MS never enabled that. For the Surface Neo, it seems it's in between a phone and a laptop, so Live Tiles may have served a useful role there if the "home" screen would be the Start menu. This is compounded by the fact that only one or two apps can be on the screen at the same time. The alternative is the Action Center -- swipe in to see notifications -- but if you use Widgets on Android or ever had a Windows Phone, you know that the notification area is no substitute for an active screen with dynamic data.
  • Wow, did they forget to close the door to troll town?
    The OS looks modern and I like what I'm seeing.
    Now, if I like the OS will be determined after I got to use it.
    No need to hate or glorify.
  • Installed the 10X image in the emulator last night on a my old dying pc after re-enroling into the insider programme. I have to say apart from the start menu and the full screen app launching, I'm a massive fan of the UX. The UX over all is pretty smooth, I hope it replaces tablet mode in Windows 10 which is just woeful. The ability to interact with options within the action centre? Halleujah! Finally Microsoft has given us a well thought out and efficient design. Additionally, the preview of music playing apps, will relegate the custom rainmeter skins to the ether which mimic this functionality in the o/s. It's a pain in the rear to get this working after every time Spotify for example updates their app. From brief 40 minute testing of 10X, I am loving the engineering behind the scenes of 10X. I seriously want to see more of this from Microsoft. A light weight o/s that is capable of running complex win32 applications containerised? Hell yeah bring it on, I am not ashamed to admit I was somewhat skeptical but from what I've seen Microsoft may have finally nailed it. Not to mention if Microsoft can pull this off this will be a massive benefit to battery life as CPU cycles are not being used up running unnecessary code. 10X bundled with a ARM SOC + a large battery + LTE + Inking + nfc + windows hello + slim form factor? That is one a mighty combo. [Shortened the comment, when I finished... I noticed I typed up an essay... ooops. Will post full comment of experience installing FL Studio in the forums and issues I came across when checking out the emulator].
  • Hey thanks for the detailed info. Sounds great.
  • The icons look nice. I wish Windows 10 had them. Other than that I don't see anything special. No dark theme yet for the action panel?
  • Your quote: 'Everything ...a complete rebuild'.
    Me: What? Everything looks the same as what i'm using now, except the Live Tiles are gone...
  • Windows 10X is a complete rebuild of the Windows UX. Microsoft has rewritten the entire shell with modern code.
  • How do you know its a rebuild? Sounds like we must take your word.
  • He has "sources". In reality however, this "new, started from scratch" OS is a mess full of 30y old legacy NT code, registry, hacks and patch work a.k.a. house of cards. Take my word instead. Whatever sounds more logical to you knowing Microsoft and how software is created, of course ;) I don't have Zac's sources, but I am gonna bet on my word
  • Why do you question it? He has far more credibility to his name than you do.
  • It is a full rebuild. People just want to question things just to stir the pot, when in reality it just makes them look foolish.
  • Technically the shell is a rebuild and not a ported modified Explorer shell from Windows 10. So the underlying code is new, or at least not legacy. But yeah Live Tiles is gone and no alternative is replacing it at the moment like widgets. While Android and ioS and iPadOS got widgets. Before I find iOS homescreen to be boring until they introduce widgets. On iPadOS, you can even make the widgets always visible in the first page of the homescreen. Now Windows 10 X simply have launcher to launch apps, that's it.
  • At a first look it reminds me a bit ElementaryOS. I know I am part of a minority, but I don't like these rounded corners, and I still don't get why using dark mode some screens have a black background, it hurts the eyes. It's called dark mode, not black mode.
  • This looks utterly ugly. That start menu looks so dated, boring and 90'ish. Setting pages are also equally bad aesthetically and looks just the same as W10, nothing new.
    Only that apple inspired notification bar is looking good for a tablet.
  • Wow, it looks very bland and disappointing.
  • I don't expect the live tile dead - enders to like 10x, but I do wish they would just use their shell emulators on Android and not comment on every 10x story from here to eternity.
  • in this point i still like the good-old Windows 10 interface. Yes I know it's full of legacy component, but it just works, especially with conventional input devices like mouse and keyboard. But as far as i know Windows 10X is designed for newer form of devices, so conventional PC user like me would still use the good old legacy Windows interface
  • No Tiles, no smiles.
  • It's functional, I guess, but there's really not much here to coo over that makes you think "woah, Fluent Design!" or such. If this UI is strictly for foldable devices I can shrug it off and move on at least.
  • Everything looks good except that ugly & bland start menu.
    at least allow to put background wallpaper behind startmenu & ability to put app shortcuts on desktop . Why can't Microsoft provide app grid on homescreen directly like iPad os ? glad that Frankenstein live tiles are finally killed because Microsoft clearly had a no idea what to do with them.
  • Still just looks like an Android dock and launcher floating in the middle of a screen to me, it could at least have some opacity settings or something to show a background. Also, watching the video on it, I'm not sold on how the experience navigating it will feel, seems a bit unintuitive to me. Guess time will tell how they refine it.
  • Not even close to gorgeous. Let's get real now Whatever Microsoft plan with devices or new OS looks like more experimental and hoax. This looks good, futuristic in their so-called Demo or whiteboard. In reality, their vision is still blurry. What happens with Surface Hub 2 not even a year WindowCentral itself reported it is going to be a level thing which is not happening now. Time to address Microsoft is still struggling with ecosystem uniqueness for customers. No wonder developers don't want to spend time with Windows 10 ecosystem probably they will kill the new WCOS thing in a few years or so. However, Windows 10 for tablets still Sucks. God knows when things will get straight and simple for the windows environment.
  • If Microsoft were to spend as much time and energy on help and explanations as it does on tarting up icons I would be more impressed.
    There was a time when the company provided a manual which started by explaining the philosophical structure of the product. If you read and understood that you rarely had to delve into the how to detail. But could.
    Now developers seem to think that help is a dirty word.