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What does the future hold for Windows if it isn't Windows 10X?

Windows 10X mock laptop dark
Windows 10X mock laptop dark (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

With recent reports revealing that Microsoft has put Windows 10X on the backburner, the question around what the future looks like for Windows is more apparent than ever. Windows 10X was supposed to lay the foundation for the next generation of Windows, but with the project no longer happening, where does that leave Windows as a whole?

It's fair to say that Windows Desktop, while versatile and incredible in its own ways, is not a modern OS. It's a platform built on a codebase spanning decades, and still relevant today to over 1.3 billion users. That said, rival platforms like iPadOS and Chrome OS are much more modern, lightweight, secure, and easier to update, positioning each as increasingly popular as PC replacements.

Windows 10X was Microsoft's answer to these platforms. As modern workflows continue to evolve, Windows needs to stay current with user experience (UX) trends and technical advances, where Windows Desktop has fallen short. Maintaining that legacy baggage is important, but it typically comes at the cost of platform and UX innovation.

For example, most modern platforms are partitioned up in a way that enhances security and updates. The end-user isn't able to access system files by default, and third-party apps are installed into a separate partition, unable to access sensitive files or data without the correct permissions.

Windows Desktop has none of that. The entire OS stack is installed into one partition and everything has access to everything. This is what makes Windows an "open platform," as end-users and third-party apps can do whatever they want, but it comes at the cost of security and ease of updates. It causes further troubles, allowing malware to access OS and user files with little effort.

Windows 10x Mock Prox Split

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

Microsoft was able to introduce modern OS platform changes with Windows 10X that it couldn't do on Windows 10.

Windows 10X was where Microsoft was able to introduce these platform innovations, locking away important OS files and user data into their own partitions. It also allowed Microsoft to improve Windows Update, meaning new feature releases take a few seconds, just like on Android or Chrome OS.

Performance and OS size is another key benefit of modern operating systems over Windows Desktop. A modern OS will often perform better on the same hardware compared to Windows Desktop, which is a much heavier OS in comparison. It's also much larger, taking up dozens of gigabytes on a disk drive. Windows 10X typically takes up less than 10GB.

Windows 10X is a product that sits in top of a modern reworking of the Windows codebase called Windows Core OS (WCOS.) It's something Microsoft has been building for many years, and is a modular and lightweight Windows core designed for future computing devices. It's what powers HoloLens 2, and was going to power PCs with Windows 10X.

But with Windows 10X on the backburner, these platform innovations are no longer coming to PCs as they were developed with Windows Core OS in mind, not Windows Desktop. So, what's next for Windows, and what happens to all the resources and time spent building Windows 10X? Let's speculate.

What's next for Windows?

Windows Sun Valley Mock

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The immediate future for Windows is actually quite exciting. Microsoft has some big plans for Windows Desktop this fall that involves a major rejuvenation of the Windows UX. This will introduce new icons, sounds, animations, app designs, and shell features under an effort codenamed Sun Valley, designed to give the impression of a new Windows.

Windows is in dire need of a visual refresh to keep it current in a world driven by modern platforms. Microsoft wants to make Windows easier to use, better with touch and pen, and more personal and productive, all welcome changes on Windows Desktop.

But what's beyond Sun Valley? The answer is less obvious. I think we'll see Microsoft continue to embrace the "openness" of Windows Desktop. You can already run Linux apps on Windows with the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and they could easily expand that to support Android apps too. In fact, we know Microsoft is at least considering it with "Project Latte."

Microsoft wants Windows Desktop to be the de-facto platform for computing. Whether that be legacy Windows apps, modern Windows apps, web apps, Linux apps, and maybe even Android apps in the future. Microsoft is continuing work on Windows Desktop for years to come, and I'm sure it's looking to bring over more under the hood innovations from Windows 10X / Core OS too.

Windows 10X exists as it's incredibly hard to retroactively add under the hood platform innovations to the existing version of Windows Desktop. It was easier for Microsoft to rework the entire Windows core with Windows Core OS and build a modern version of Windows. with platform innovations built right in.

Windows Registry

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Windows Desktop will always be a legacy-driven OS.

Introducing platform changes like system-wide Win32 app containerization or OS state separation could break compatibility with some legacy apps or code. As always, Microsoft's commitment to legacy app support is its greatest ally and greatest curse. That said, I do think Microsoft will try to turn Windows Desktop into something of a hybrid between Core OS and Legacy Windows where it can. The question is, where can it?

Windows Desktop will always have a place on the market, as there will always be a need for legacy Windows apps. But it will never be an operating system that can carry Microsoft into the more mobile, unique, and futuristic device form factors that don't yet exist. Microsoft needs an adaptable, lightweight, and secure version of Windows, and that's what Windows Core OS delivers.

I think we're going to see WCOS used sparingly going forward. Microsoft considered it the future of Windows for all devices at one point, but that dream is untenable given Microsoft's commitment to legacy app support. So instead, I think WCOS will become the default choice for new form factors where legacy Windows apps aren't obviously necessary, just like HoloLens 2.

But right now, Microsoft's focus is where its users are: Windows Desktop, and it wants to make Windows Desktop feel as modern as possible for the best Windows laptops, desktops, and tablets out there. A new UX with new features and a fresh coat of paint is what Windows Desktop needs right now, so it makes sense that Microsoft is prioritizing the required work.

Windows is exciting again. Even with Windows 10X on the backburner, I think the next couple of years are going to be remarkably interesting for Windows fans. What are your thoughts? Do you think Windows 10X is more important than Windows Desktop? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

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.

81 Comments
  • Super sad about the loss of windows 10x. I was really excited about that. I think it would allowed Windows to give people a modern option if they wanted it. And I think they would have seen many if not the majority of Windows users ultimately choosing the modern option. Legacy apps are really only a big deal for enterprise customers, but for consumers a modern, fast, safe os is key. I think one thing Apple is really good at is cannibalizing their own market for the new next market. Windows could learn from that. I just fear Chrome might gain a lot more traction than people think, if Microsoft doesn't respond.
  • While I agree that Apple has done well cannabalizing their devices they are mostly a consumer driven entity. Microsoft Windows is a business driven solution and big businesses don't update programs u less they absolutely must. So two different ecosystems
  • With the CPU race heating up, I think Microsoft can see that the 'extra weight' of these legacy components in Windows is becoming less relevant. Slower updates? If you have 5G, who cares? Larger OS install size? SSD's are only getting cheaper. Runs marginally slower? On my 14th Gen 5nm CPU, I'm not worried... MS has already addressed many of the user-facing issues surrounding Windows. Such as: instant wake and faster resuming on always connected PCs. I think Microsoft can see that state of this technology is already outpacing these problems. Windows is already argueably the most functional, most powerful OS. Just refine the user exerience for both desktop and tablet/mobile users, and no one will remember Windows 10X.
  • You make some interesting points. However, I'm not sure that they're really deciding how Microsoft looks at Windows 10X. Yes, people have 5G, but few have mmWave (where the real speed increases are), plus people have data caps on those mobile networks. Most would still be updating on their existing WiFi, where data speeds aren't going up anywhere near as quickly. SSDs are getting cheaper, but we've also seen top-tier laptops lock down their storage, meaning it's more likely you bump up against storage limits. The price of storage means nothing when the OEM won't let you upgrade. Probably the biggest thing facing laptops is the same as it's always been--battery life. Windows 10X, with legacy functionality removed or in a rarely-touched container state--would likely do a good amount of work to help here. Cutting the bloat on the OS might get us a more consistent 12 hours of battery life, as opposed to the 8 hours most devices are lucky to see, especially after a year or two of heavy use. The UX has needed refined forever. Doing this properly would rely on users to have a consistent set of standards. The tablet mode definitely needs improvements, but I'm not convinced Microsoft cares. They haven't seen 2-in-1s become the standard in the laptop market, though they fit into it quite often. That they bothered to make the Surface Laptop and the Razer Blade has become so popular suggests users aren't super-concerned about tablet mode themselves.
  • I don't really get what makes Windows exciting in the next couple of years. Refreshing some UI elements and probably needlessly shuffling settings to confuse people yet again doesn't strike me as exciting. It just seems like we're back to the start of the Windows 10 cycle with MS, where they have a big update after doing nothing forever, people get all excited, then MS goes back to minimal changes that make people stop noticing them unless major bugs (like losing a boatload of files) happen. Take a look back at what you wrote in 2019: https://www.windowscentral.com/windows-core-os What have we gotten from those musings nearly 2 years ago? W10X is on life support. Windows Holographic is an uber-niche enterprise offering. I'm not even sure we've seen a meaningful implementation of CShell for consumers, since Microsoft's such a non-factor in anything other than traditional desktop Windows. Are we getting a better update experience these days? What's become of the Windows Core OS project? We've got the Surface Hub 2X, which is apparently dead. Windows 10X is vaporware. W10A is lagging behind the ARM efforts by Apple massively, mostly because Apple's got a hardware advantage that Microsoft can do nothing about (since they rely on Qualcomm). Surface Neo is in the same heap as W10X, while the Duo leans on Android because Microsoft has no functional mobile presence. It's hard to figure out what Microsoft's future consumer plans are. Mobile computing continues to become increasingly important, but Microsoft continues to shovel failed projects into a furnace and produce little in the way of success there. Legacy Windows has become a matter of one significant update every couple of years, if we're lucky. Microsoft seems like it doesn't really care much about consumer success because its enterprise game is so strong. They seem very much like a "Services" company, rather than the "Software and Services" company of the past.
  • "Microsoft seems like it doesn't really care much about consumer success because its enterprise game is so strong." "seems" is the wrong word here. That statement is a fact. Microsoft is not a consumer company, and never will be. The future of Windows is definitely not "exciting". Windows CAN'T change too much, because the customers who matter - businesses - won't buy it. For reference, see Windows 8. The vast majority of the "1.3 billion users" are business users. None of them are interested in "new experiences". Windows needs to continue to do the same things - in the same way - that it always has. Period. Thus, there is no need for 10X. Thus, Microsoft is now yet another Android vendor. It is now mid 2021 and MS is STILL thrashing about, trying to come up with a mobile strategy. Since Windows and iOS are not options, Android is it. The sooner Windows goes into permanent maintenance mode - without ridiculous twice a year updates that no one wants or needs - the sooner MS can concentrate on mobile. Hey Microsoft. Windows is a legacy product. Stop wasting so much time and effort on it. It is time to move on. If you ever DO come up with a new OS, for Pete's sake DON'T call it "Windows".
  • Very well put. I do hope they focus on the future from the onsumer perspective rather than enterprise.
  • They will not, unless it is to make more Android based devices. How about an MS branded Chromebook?
  • Why would Microsoft focus on consumers over the enterprise? Don't you see where their bread is buttered? Modifying Windows 10 (however incrementally) should be their priority. If consumers don't like it let them get iPads.
  • I just think this is a huge miss for them. The largest employer in the United States is small business. They make over 99% of business in America and employ majority of all Americans. Consumer products become business products, especially in small business. There was an interesting article saying that even in enterprise they are buying more Apple products than ever because mangers loved using their Apple iPhones as a consumer product. Google Chrome books have a real shot of taking Windows crown if they don’t do something about focusing on the consumer. As someone that runs a small business it’s so much harder to run a Windows server than a Google Chromebook network of devices. I want to use Microsoft products but if they forget the consumer and small business they are going to be hurt significantly in the long run. Small business of today is the enterprise of tomorrow and if they are used to using either Apple or Chrome products that is going to be a real pain for Microsoft in the long run. I think Windows 10x was important.
  • I wouldn't say you're entirely right. Microsoft has poured billions into Xbox, a decidedly consumer-oriented brand. Surface has stepped increasingly into consumer-oriented products like their audio lineup. Windows itself still leans heavily towards appealing to enterprise, but Microsoft has certainly made more attempts to find consumer device success. Sadly, they do it from the perspective of Apple, where they overcharge for an experience. That they're very slow to update some of their most premium devices adds to the disappointment. All of that suggests Microsoft is fed primarily on its enterprise efforts, but they don't seem to be completely satisfied being an enterprise-only company. Your suggestion of stopping work on Windows is silly though. They're 90 light years behind on mobile, and this wouldn't do anything to improve the mobile experience. They would have to leverage Windows 10 in some way to make mobile slightly interesting. Sad that they goofed and didn't make their prior mobile OSes the harmonious experience we were promised, but that'd do a lot more than another from-scratch effort that has no app support.
  • Yes. This is exactly what I have been saying. Make Windows legacy and stop supporting it beyond security updates. Put all future effort into something not called Windows. Stay at it for years, don’t give up.
  • @Keith Wallace
    I agree with you as well
  • Keith, I agree. When you dig far enough into Windows 10 OS, you get back to the old-school menus, etc. New paint of coat might be refreshing because I am getting bored with the way things look, but the foundation, I suppose, will be very much the same. Windows reimaged by Panos Panay seems destined to continue to have the same challenges and advantages as Windows 10. Perhaps Microsoft is scaling back a modern OS and envisioning a day where AZURE is more prominent? Imagine all Windows machines are just portals to AZURE or a form of edge computing where most of the heavy workload and OS is in the cloud. Or, perhaps Windows isn't the cash cow anymore, and Microsoft has moved a notch closer to what IBM has become.
  • Why are you here?
  • Well, that's a very informative, useful quartet of words.
  • I like legacy Windows, but I also love devices like the Neo, so unless they really deliver a first class Touch experience to support such a device, they will always be looked at as the "old" OS.
  • Very well put.
  • And what can Duo tell us about possible OS and use case scenarios? I think making Windows work well makes more sense then trying to implement an entirely new OS.
  • Why can't they just bundle Windows 10x with Windows 10. Thus allowing users a choice with touchscreens to use legacy windows or new touch based windows. Or use Windows 10x to replace the tablet mode and sandbox it. I don't think having a Windows 10 and 10x is the way forward. 10x should only be the dominant os on things like the Duo and low end tablets/laptops. If you purchase a premium device or a Neo should it ever appear you should have the choice of both or be able switch between both.
  • "Windows Desktop will always be a legacy-driven OS." This also applies to MacOS but Mac users don't feel it works this way. You can have an element of legacy without still requiring support for ancient technologies Windows does. It's an important point when MacOS is as old as Windows.
  • MacOS 10 ("OS X") was a radical departure from its predecessors. It had some backward compatibility, but not to the level of Windows. And the hardware switch to Apple Silicon further limited backward compatibility. Mac users and Windows users are inherently different. I don't think many enterprises are using Macs for their mission-critical or line-of-business applications, the ones that require compatibility.
  • I think Microsoft has a lot of threats in enterprise. A modern operating system would have helped them drastically. I hope they do bring something back with it. Apple is now a top 3 devices in enterprise and growing
    https://www.computerworld.com/article/3518988/apple-is-a-top-three-pc-ve...
  • Wonder what this means for the future of NEO? DOA?
  • google will eat Microsoft lunch with their unified fuchsia OS. google will dominate operating systems in mobile, desktop, auto, TV, tablets and web.
  • Fuchsia OS is vaporware right now. After 10 years, Chromebooks have not entered the consumer market in any serious way (EDU in the US is a diff story).
  • Weird how it's too late for MS to compete in any market in which they're not first, but every new OS is a threat to Windows, which is about as established as it can get.
  • But they would be fourth or fifth with 10x. Windows, MAC, ChromeOS, Linux and then 10x
  • Windows was the first OS? Was Word the first word processor? Was Excel the first spreadsheet?
  • You missed the part where I was suggesting these people are not logical.
  • Yeah, and you've got people raving about how great Chrome OS is and how it's totally going to destroy Windows (any day now) and at the same time they trash Windows 10X because it loses legacy support. Go figure.
  • That is weird, because I see Chromebooks being sold in every box store here in the US. Best Buy has several to choose from while Target and Walmart also have quite the selection. They were 10% of sales this past quarter and growing like crazy. That isn’t serious?
  • So, the year of Linux, er, MacOS, er, Fuchsia? Poor Microsoft.
  • I hope they go back to the drawing board with their whole app concept with regard to desktop. There's absolutely no way they're ever going to transfer workflows from creative or business feature-rich applications by adopting the mobile solution of total sandboxing, or worse, their brain dead Windows 10X solution of "iF yOu nEeD wiN32 yOu Can JuSt sTrEaM iT fRoM thE cLoUd". Instancing new registries for each app is a great idea. Cutting off access to the filesystem and forcing the adoption of an abstraction layer with tokens and granular permissions is not. There's a ridiculously large number of users on Windows that use more than a browser and office and it never seems like Microsoft's new-OS or Metro/UWP solutions even pretended to care about this existence, hence the total and complete disregard for those failed ideas by both businesses and consumer/prosumer users. It's like MS drank some potent radioactive bleach back in 2011 where they seriously thought they could dictate the entire Windows ecosystem convert to a mobile design and they've failed horrendously at each attempt. Microsoft needs to first clean house and systematically remove the people pushing this nonsense from every position in the company, from president to janitor. Thinking outside the box is important for moving product visions, but at the other end of that spectrum there are so-called "visioneers" or "solutionauts" are usually toxic cancers within a company that can easily be identified for pushing crap ideas that are obviously crap ideas (Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 8.1, Windows 10X, etc). I remember loving my Lumia 1520 and thinking how I hoped they would take that operating system and release a proper tablet out of it because it'd be a great *companion* to Windows. The absolute last thing I wanted or needed was them to further neuter and ruin Windows proper by trying for 9 years to try to trick people into adopting the mobile application design for all applications everywhere.
  • Stuck in the past, MS is pushing itself into a deadly realm of irrelevance.
  • Yeah, the nitwits have been predicting this since 1989 and still in 2021 Windows is installed on 90% of all Pc's, workstations, 2in1s and laptops. And MS never ever has been as big as it is today. Strange definition of irrelevance you have. Current market Cap 1.8 Trillion USD, I'd love te be that irrelevant with this kind of financial powerhouse...
  • M S E M
  • Maybe they'll first try to make the Microsoft Store usage more common on Windows devices, so that when they want to move to something like Windows 10X, the devs will update their apps accordingly. In the end, it was always the lack of apps that killed the new Windows experiences.
  • That's actually happening, according to Zac B. and Daniel R. in the most recent Windows Central podcast.
  • Maybe Microsoft will add a binary translation layer so ARM can be relevant with full Windows 10. I would personally love to see more UI reinvention, particularly on Windows Explorer. Also they may as well lean into gaming features since Apple is terrible in that area and Google insists the future of gaming is streaming on their soon to be killed service.
  • Windows cloud pc. Get the full windows experience on any device even your smartphone. And one day you AR glasses. That's the future. I think that's also why Project reunion and project latte are getting Android stuff onto windows.
  • I don't agree with anything in this article. First you make it sound so insecure. Second you think people want a dumbed down version. Third Microsoft and Samsung are bridging the gap and the Duo has Google. Make Windows bigger and more powerful, not less to compete with overblown phone systems like Chrome OS. Market windows as the most powerful that blows anyone out of the water. Apple by the way doesn't come close to windows either. Also this is Windows Central so stop writing articles putting down windows. Stop please, just stop. Windows is awesome.
  • Not sure if I would call Windows "awesome," but it is relevant. And people don't seem to get that Windows Cloud PC just means Microsoft can rent Windows licenses, which means: 1) more active Windows 10 devices (currently at 1.3 billion) and 2) recurring Windows revenue. And like I mentioned in an earlier post, there aren't many enterprises running their line-of-business or mission-critical desktop apps on anything other than Windows.
  • Windows is Windows and will never change. Microsoft doesn’t have to do anything else. They could re-release Windows 7 and sales and impact would be unchanged. They need to put that effort into something new to entice customers tomorrow. It is only a matter of time before Windows is replaced and Microsoft needs to make the replacement or Apple, Google, or someone else will.
  • This might seem a bit obvious, but why doesn't Microsoft just throw a tonne of money at the legacy app issue? Let's say, for example, there are a million legacy apps that won't run on W10X (or WCOS). What's stopping Microsoft from offering $10,000 or $100,000 or even $1 Million to every app owner to get them to update their app so it'll run on WCOS. I'm sure there will be some who say that's crazy talk...why should Microsoft spend $Billions getting legacy apps to run on WCOS. Two words...Windows Mobile Just about everyone who's on this site is an ex Windows Phone/Windows Mobile user, and we've all seen first hand what happens when Microsoft leave themselves stuck with an OS that doesn't have apps. If Microsoft want (let me correct that...Need...) to build a modern OS with every legacy and future app in mind, then there's literally no number too High to make that happen, because the alternative is that Windows will continue to age, will continue to creak under the weight of 30+ of coding and will eventually vanish altogether. Looking at the amount of market share Android, Chrome, iOS and MacOS have taken in the past 15 years, I'd say that Microsoft have about another 10-15 years left before Windows in its current format is utterly obsolete. They should literally be going from dev to dev, bargaining, bribing and blackmailing them to port to WCOS. Failure to bring WCOS to the fore is the end of Windows.
  • There was always a segment of users going back to DOS and early versions of Windows that did not need all the power of their computer for what they used it for. Attempting to change the future of a platform like Windows where people do actual work to cater to this long gone set of users is beyond ludicrous and foolish. Microsoft did subsidize a number of Apps during the rollout of Windows 8 and various Windows Phone OS releases. The reason why Photoshop, Visual Studio, Pro Tools, or anything other pro application suite never switched to the failed app paradigm is because it would necessarily require needless feature removal and a rebase on a user interface ill-suited for actual work, something that could never be justified to their users without some sort of net positive benefit. The move to 64-bit was kind of frustrating, but we got more than 4GB of RAM usage. What's the benefit of moving to something like 10X? Complete lack of compatibility with any plugin ever, an anemic touch interface that hides every option ever to look too cool for school failed art designers that couldn't get a job at Apple? Heck no. The success of RT, 10S, and 10X would have been the end of Windows. Windows has limped on life support after its family tried to pull life support for effectively having a mild cold (couple of down quarters while the market resituated as casuals adopted tablets). Its useful technologies have been left to bitrot in an attempt to fool people into their new app paradigms (won't use the term UWP here because the goalpost has been moved so many times as to what constitutes a UWP app in order to avoid the topic of its total failure). It's only been recently with Project Reunion that Microsoft has thankfully conceded total defeat of their failed mobile first vision. If we want to draw comparisons to Apple, it needs to be taken into consideration that Apple is a relatively volatile platform to develop for. The ROI for foundational codebase investments is ridiculously lower than anything targeted for Windows. It's no surprise to me that Apple invested much into thinner designs that showed consistent failure on long term use for anything from defective keyboards to burnt out GPUs to swelling batteries, all when people started more and more sitting on their OS X install version and freezing development environments for production usage. If we want to draw comparisons to Google, it definitely needs to be taken into consideration that Google doesn't even dogfood ChromeOS for their own developers, artists, and presumably any other business-focused non-tech position in the company. ChromeOS is just the benefits of a tablet with a familiar form factor to people who weren't convinced by Steve Jobs the first time around that casuals should use tablets for their one or two activities they do. It only gained wide adoption and commercial interest when administrators realized this would suit a number of user types very well in schools. Microsoft already has a modern OS, it's Windows 10. It's very fast, very stable, and once you set your computer to ignore any and all attempts to fool you into using new app paradigm garbage, it functions very well. You can do business work, development work, artwork, audio work, all on a mature platform with access to all the latest functionality like Thunderbolt. People cry out they want Microsoft to build a modern OS, but what they and Microsoft really want is to leverage their large installation base of people doing actual work on Windows to be a point of ingress into markets they failed to capitalize on a decade or more ago. There's absolutely no reason at all to pretend like mobile app design will translate well for feature rich applications. The *one* or *two* times Microsoft even attempted to do so (Office UWP), they noped so hard and so fast back to win32 that most people don't even remember that experiment being a thing. Mobile devices have their place, but that's a firm heck no from me (and presumably most people considering the dumpster fire state of Windows/Microsoft Store) in pushing for a modern mobile first OS to supplant and replace Windows proper.
  • All very valid points, but I still think Microsoft need a successful, consumer first version of Windows. You're absolutely right to point to the fact that W10 is a fast, stable, functional OS, used by over a billion people every day. It's a win for Microsoft. But these attempts to engage with the non business consumer either need to succeed or end. And that's the frustration with W10X. Microsoft keep trying to engage with the iPad generation. They develop some vapourware, stick it on a supercool device and present it to the world...and then they chuck it in the bin. If Microsoft cannot find a way to engage with light use, non-business consumers, then they should can the attempts, adopt the IBM model that totally ignores consumers and focusses exclusively on business/enterprise and be done with it. But Microsoft can't help themselves. They see the enormous consumer pie and they want a slice. It would just be nice to see them stick with some of the ideas.
  • Providing and marketing products to consumers isn't always going to be a lost cost though, even if they choose to focus more on business customers. Exposing Windows proper to consumers is a wise way to keep it relevant in business in a way that IBM could never capitalize on, i.e. people know and equate computing with Windows. Personally, I think that's one of the major reasons Microsoft has stuck behind the Xbox initiative through thick and thin; more than a generation of gamers (casual and not-casual) integrate quite heavily into the Microsoft ecosystem. When Zune/Xbox Music/Groove offered their music streaming service, for me it was a no-brainer. When Windows 8 asked for my Microsoft account to set up my new PC, hey, I already had one. Traditionally, Microsoft did very well in this manner in the education market, which is what I think has them most bugged out recently with Chrome OS's wide adoption there. And in Windows 10X's defense, sure, that was always 10X's publicly stated purpose, to compete in and reclaim that market. It's only because of several consistent failures in attempting to cultivate a legacy-free OS that I even question a potential pivot to replace Windows proper: separately they're mere curiosities but RT, 10S, and 10X seen together represent a very clear goal of Microsoft to fundamentally alter the Windows product eventually in such a way that it would require a huge investment to businesses and endusers to be forcefully adapted, and to the penalty of a vastly inferior UI paradigm. To be clear, that's my major consternation with 10X: Microsoft keeps toeing the water to see if people might be fooled into thinking UWP will ever be a thing in order to justify finally letting go of legacy support. I definitely get your stance of wanting them to stick with it or get out, and I think I'm actually coming around to that. I loved my Lumia, loved Zune, but they just aren't very good at this type of thing. For me, this total lack in quality very clearly started with Windows 8 and continued until very recently with Panay's insertion (as far as publicly released products). I think everyone's fear about Windows 8 is that Microsoft really believed for a long time that that was just going to be how computers worked for now on. With Project Reunion, dissolving the 10X initiative, the move away from migraine inducing bright 2 color iconography, and Sun Valley rumors, I'm actually pretty hopeful. At the very least, the justification for canning 10X reported seems to indicate they're listening to feedback for once, which is most welcome because the last time that happened we got the majesty that was Windows 7.
  • Point taken about marketing to consumers. I guess even if nothing actually comes of the hardware or software, at the very least they're keeping the surface/windows conversation alive. Xbos is an interesting one. I've stuck by Xbox for years, and thoroughly enjoy my device. It's just weird to me that Microsoft managed to crack the ultra-hard gaming nut, but couldn't make a dent in any other consumer space. Even when they've lost ground to Nintendo and Sony, Microsoft and Xbox are still a top tier gaming platform. I don't know...Microsoft sometimes seem so lost. They are by every metric a massively successful company, but at the bleeding edge of the consumer space, they're in a state. Very few young teens or casual tablet users will ever opt for a windows laptop over an iPhone or iPad. And that's where the long-term risk lies for Windows. Google are pushing hard into education only because they know the value of pulling users into the ecosystem from a young age. Apple have perfected this, and it's why I think iOS and MacOS will be the defacto global operating systems in the next 20-30 years. The plan is extremely hard to implement, but incredibly simple at its core.......get every 10-18 year old on an iPhone and you can bet your bottom Dollar a significant percentage will opt to go with iPads and Apple Macs as they grow up and start to earn more disposable income. Get them on your hardware, and you can effectively entangle them in your software, services and subscriptions. I honestly believe that if Apple launched a games console tomorrow, and charged $1000 - $2000 for it, there would be a queue round the block, even if the hardware was garbage and it had a games library that could fit on one hand. The fans would lap it up and give Apple the time and space to refine the hardware and bulk the library. I think this for one reason...people like/love/adore what Apple put out. They see the devices as fun devices and status symbols. When they think Apple, they think media consumption, entertainment and fun. And because those devices and services bring them joy, they also get more enjoyment out of using those devices for work. Microsoft and Windows do not elicit that warm, fuzzy, superior, status inspired feeling. Windows is for work. Laptops that run Windows are work computers. Work is a fun sponge. It's not a creative space. It's a vacuum. I'll caveat by saying that I quite enjoy my job, but for a lot of 18–25-year-olds, either in full time education or just starting their careers, Windows and Laptops represent the crap part of life, while Apple and iPad/Phone represent fun. Microsoft are losing Generation Z, and it's those same 18-25 year olds, some of whom will move into senior roles in large organisations, or will start their own businesses, who will be making choices in the workplace about what hardware and operating systems their businesses should run in 15-20 years' time. If Microsoft/Windows cannot make an impact in the consumer space, there's a chance it'll cost them a significant chunk of the enterprise space in the next 20 years. Sorry, very long post...I have the day off :)
  • This is the thing I've been saying for a while. Mobile is what is going to dictate future purchase decisions. Kids are getting phones and tablets as young as 5 years old, some even younger. Schools are shoving chromebooks into all students hands, some iPads as well. There are no Windows devices in K-12 being handed out where I live. Everyone has Chromebooks. Parents buy an iPhone for their kids and they use iPads in school, guess what they are most likely going to be using when it comes to actual computing as they get older, a Mac. Kids on Android phones and Chromebooks, probably a high end Chromebook. Neither is going to care about or want to use a Windows device in the future. If Microsoft actually put their money where their mouths were with mobile instead of chasing iOS and Android ("iPhone Pro" speech ring a bell anyone?), then maybe, just maybe we would see lightweight Windows devices in schools right now instead of Chromebooks. Maybe more Windows phones in usage which ultimately would lead to these kids, who will become adults and take over businesses or create new businesses and make purchasing decisions, to opt for Microsoft's platform and services. Instead, they will be opting for whatever Apple and Google has in 20 years. Yeah they may be loving the enterprise space now, but when these kids take over, Google, Apple, and Amazon will be dominating that space with Microsoft being an afterthought. It starts with what you grew to become familiar with. Before, entry into technology was a Windows PC. So Windows is what everyone knew and used. Now, first tech device is either a Android or iOS device, with it being a phone primarily. No true investment in mobile, no future in my opinion.
  • Well put. The consumer space isn't one Microsoft can just ignore, and yet that's seemingly what they continue to do. Generation X, and to a lesser extent Y, turn to Windows "to get stuff done" because that was pretty much the only operating system available to us that spanned the consumer and enterprise markets. We didn't know any better. I'll use myself as a classic Gen X user. I'm 46, and up until my mid 30's I only ever considered Windows a "proper" OS. If all goes to plan, I probably have another 15-20 years of work life ahead of me, and unless something drastic happens, I'll continue to use Windows as my OS of choice. But coming up behind me is my two kids, 21 and 16. They both own iPhones and iPads. They do 99% of their computing on those devices, whether for work or pleasure. My eldest very reluctantly accepted a Surface Go to help her with her university work, but she'll go weeks without even picking it up. To be clear, Microsoft are not at risk of losing Gen Z...no, no. We're way past that. Gen Z are gone. They're completely lost to the iOS/MacOS/Android world. They're gone, and the future of Windows in its current format is gone, too. The very best Microsoft can hope for is to roll out the cannons and fight for some turf. And to do that, they're going to need both hardware and software that is deeply compelling. And that starts with making Windows fun. It starts with getting it into the hands of youngsters and making it about play as much as work. It's about creating an OS that people engage with for fun, pleasure and productivity. It has to be light, adaptable, easy to use and feature rich, with every major app available. It has to be familiar to a generation that doesn't bother with file explorer and control panel. It has to ooze desire. W10X and WCOS can be those things, in the right hands. But if Microsoft keep bottling it, they're going to lock themselves into the Windows death spiral. They need, absolutely need, to build an OS that's fit for the next generation, and they need to stick with it through thick and thin.
  • Good comment. I work in It for the enterprise. For most of our 20000 users, Windows is primarily a Citrix delivery system. And for that, Windows 10 is poor. Log ins are slow even on modern hardware and management of users and computers through Active Directory of cumbersome. There's no cloud syncing of Windows settings to users' Microsoft accounts that propogate to other devices a user may log into. We have doctors who do rounds and they can't get a personlised UX as they move from computer to computer. Windows' tablet interface is a joke and battery life is rubbish. "All day battery life" isn't enough because it's usually half what's claimed. Our Windows computers on wards are mostly in a kiosk configuration because logging off and logging to a different user is so slow. We're looking at published desktops that can be delivered by Citrix. All that most people are gonna need is a Citrix application to deliver the software most of our staff use. Once this gets up and running, slow and creaky Windows will be irrelevant. Windows updates seem to occur when wards are the busiest and take quite a long time. People restarting Windows to alleviate a glitch get frustrated by how poorly Windows runs. Windows 10X would've suited our needs quite well.
  • My biggest surprise in all of this is that it's Panos Panay who killed W10X. I mean, this is the guy who gave us Surface. This is the guy who saw the potential of the hardware and stuck with it through a very bumpy development phase, and watched it essentially tank in the market for the first few years, until they made it to the Pro3. This is the guy who has to constantly re-invent what a Windows device could look like, and what it could do, in order to give hardware partners inspiration. If anybody at Microsoft should be looking at a creaking, old, bloated operating system, running on a sleek, desirable device and thinking "this ain't right" it ought to be him. Microsoft have always had different flavours of windows out in the wild at any one time. I don't see why this time round is any different. They should treat 10X like they do Hololens...slowly and specifically, with zero expectation of mass adoption for at least 10 years. Launch it on a couple of very cool devices (Neo & Duo), support it wit regular software update, develop a library of fun apps and games, alongside some excellent productivity applications, and keep upgrading the hardware on a 12-24 month cadence...minor update, major update. Any of this sound familiar...pretty much the Apple playbook. Build it, make it fun, make it desirable, and they will come. It'll cost them plenty, but it's a small price to pay to still have a seat at the big boys table in 15 years' time.
  • While Surface was a good niche concept that just took a while to catch on and find their audience amongst everyone's 2-4 year upgrade cycles, I get the impression that 10X's implementation and approach was lacking. The win32 virtualization madness wasn't even going to be in the shipping versions because they hadn't worked it out and I don't imagine based on the failure of 10S that anyone would meaningfully enjoy a UWP-only experience. If I were a Microsoft employee I'd be embarrassed to be associated with 10X how it was presented. In that, I find it very much in line with what we've come to expect during Pax Panay: finally admitting when something horribly done just isn't working no matter how many times they try to fool people into believing it's good. - Two color icons, gone.
    - A browser built on the failed UWP platform, gone.
    - Rainbow vomit start menu where every app has a random colored background, gone.
    - win32 applications able to be packaged in the Microsoft Store, accepted. He's done more for Windows 10 just be reverting garbage design decisions and letting people build and use software how they prefer, than anyone since Sinofsky in his prime during Windows 7 development before he went crazy and presumably had a nervous breakdown seeing as how he thought Windows 8 was ever a good idea.
  • They tried that. It doesn’t work. The devs do the least amount of work necessary and stop supporting immediately after getting paid. The only thing that drives developers is users. Microsoft needs to sell products and get them out in the hands of users. Their strategy of massively overpricing devices to seem premium isn’t working. It is just limiting their user base.
  • MacOS is a modern operating system? That’s news to me. It’s based on Unix. What’s older than that and still in use, Cobol?
  • They can make Windows NT and Windows 98 at the same time. I don't understand why they cannot make two OS at the same time again. I don't really think they can do any modern OS after they gave up Windows Mobile which is a modern OS from the beginning.
  • Because the market is very different now. Is there a demand now for two desktop operating systems?
  • Thing is, Windows NT were not the OS that regular PC users will use. Windows NT is meant for enterprise, just like the current Windows 10 Enterprise isn't available for regular consumers or shipped with PCs on the retail. NT served different market and availability from 9x. But Windows NT were really or at least meant to replace the MS-DOS based Windows, which it did and first NT based Windows are marketed under Windows XP, unifying the Windows brand using the single NT kernel and subsystem.
  • I feel like Microsoft needs to do Sun Valley; Windows is starting to feel somewhat dated compared to ChromeOS and Mac and iPadOS. And in the current tech market, it has been an afterthought. Having said that 10x was also necessary. each day the computing market is relying less and less on the legacy stack that is Windows. This includes enterprise areas such as frontline work and education. Redmond is kicking the can down the road; they need something that can compete with the growing sectors of light computing. Also to respond to someone else, as long as PCs and Xboxes are being sold Microsoft is in the consumer business
  • What strikes me is the inability of MSFT to define a strategy about Windows and follow it. W10X was introduced more than two years ago and the competitive scenario was more or less as today (Chrone OS, IOS, Macos). So it is really incredible that after two years they abandoned the project. And the same happened with Windows core. This is the big difference with Apple. Apple has always a long term strategy and they follow it: M1 and Macos on Arm are projects which started years ago and Apple has been following its path without distractions.
  • Most of times it is not important to have the best strategy, but just having one and follow it. MSFT seems unable to conceive a strategy around Windows whereas they have a strategy for Azure, 365,Xbox. The market has understood this and the future of Windows as a relevant OS outside of business segment is in perils
  • All Windows needs is dominance in the enterprise.
  • Why would we care about that?
  • I belie e that Microsoft sees its future in the cloud, on Azure and that users will use cloud PC. All this needs to be accessed thru some kind of lightweight console, preferable wireless and with very good battery time. Microsoft needs to be able to offer such console to maximaze security, features and control. Windows 10X was a step in that direction, now Microsoft have stumbled and I wonder if they will be able to take the next step down that road.
    So it nice that Microsoft will polish up old Windows and make it a OS for today but the may have stumbled hard on the OS for both the near future and worse the far future.
  • If Windows is in the cloud, why does Microsoft even need to care what type of device is being used to access it, or what local OS is operating on that device?
  • Imo they should name it edge OS and most problems with people hopes about legacy apps would fade away. Everybody would know this is chrome os from Microsoft.
  • "Imo they should name it edge OS and most problems with people hopes about legacy apps would fade away. Everybody would know this is chrome os from Microsoft." @Jnhffr This is a great idea
  • I guess there's some disappointment here about this news ruining the whole "10X novel" ... However, now I understand maybe some advantage behind that "OS", that is the separated partition for system files just like Linux, I suppose. I don't know, it's not so big deal to me, since it complicates a lot some customizations and workaround in the OS and neither can you state that a system without it is inherently insecure. Indeed, there's a lot Microsoft has done for security in w10 and moreover this partition thing might be introduced some day if need be, anyway.
    We shouldn't grow fond too much of the names and associate projects to the word "future" if there are not enough concrete reasons. Is chrome or Ipad OS better in a PC experience? I doubt. Is w10 really not modern, lightweight, secure? Come on we are not talking about windows vista. If the PC is modern, windows 10 also seems light and runs good, while windows defender works great. The design is not bad at all, it has just some more polishing to do. When I hear that a codebase is old without describing the details, I need to say that you don't have to reinvent the wheel over and over.
    The concrete problems are others, about apps and services messed by microsoft. What about People app not even in the start screen? The photo app with important bugs coming from the prehistory? Or, just a word, Cortana? It's quite a list affected by the continous and confusing uncertainty with the mobile/personal experience in windows. First fix this, then we'll talk about those sparkly UI enhancements or whatever.
    And by the way, as I had said :), Surface Duo with Android hasn't given like anything, any plus at all, to microsoft, has it? A windows mobile solution on that device would have saved dignity at least and kept the idea of a different Windows alive.
  • Zac, in what way does a "everything have access to everything?" It is NTFS, more advanced filesystem than unix when it comes to granular file security, access, auditing, journaling, discretionary access control. UNIX (in macs) has spanned decades too. Is FAT still standard in Windows 10 home? I didn't think is was? Kernel and user mode appeared in the 386 processor, so not everything has access to everything. Me being picky, but I thought it made the OS and file system seem very unsophisticated, when it isn't.
    That said, it is a good article, and always enjoy what you have to say! Thank you!
  • I wasn't talking about the filesystem specifically, more the fact that Windows, by default, sets the main account as an Administrator. This gives the user account access to "most" things by default, and if not by default, it takes only a little tweaking to get those correct permissions. Compare that to iPadOS, where the user doesn't even have the choice to get access to that kind of thing. Don't get me wrong, Windows is sophisticated, as is the file system, but sophistication doesn't always mean robust or perfect.
  • Microsoft needs to keeps some things in mind when moving Windows 10 forward. Some things need to change and somethings need to not change. 1) Support multiple form factors with one OS. Windows can support desktop and tablet in one OS with touch and pen input. As computers get smaller, multiple form factor support will continue to be important. 2) Safety. Third party apps should be safe to install. Running them in a container though seems a bit over kill. Right now, Windows 10 has control of process permissions to the file system. It's important that you run most things as a standard user and not an administrator user. User account control lets you know if process elevation is happening. I think Window 10 though does need more barriers for protection. 3) Ease of use. I should be able to give a Windows 10 computer to my 81 year old Dad, and he should be able to figure it out and not screw things up. 4) Never take away multitasking workflow support. This is Windows 10 strength. This includes things like multi-monitor support, window snapping, indexed start menu, task bar, keyboard accelerators, etc. This all helps you get work done fast. This is very important for people who work on Windows all day. And one more thing; Windows 10 needs a way to pay for things like the iPhone Wallet.
  • "Windows Desktop will always be a legacy-driven OS." - Until there isn't any legacy software, then there is no reason to stick with windows vs modern OS's.
    I think just moving forward on windows desktop misses the fact that chromebooks are future driven. Yes, right now people still need some legacy software, but very soon the ease of use/setup/security are going to be the important part of the OS, and other OS's will be ready.
  • Let's all face it - MS is Enterprise first, and only does consumer for XBox, and selling Windows licenses to PC/Laptop OEMs for retail. So all of their consumer efforts have been hit or miss, sometimes great (Surface), and other times laughable (all those dead products, the Microsoft store, UWP, Moible, etc). But what they have (mostly) done well, during the Nadella era is get back to their core competencies. And I think shelving 10X, while re-emphasizing regular Windows, is an example of this. 10X is essentially ChromeOS, only way behind the curve, with not really a compelling reason for people to chose it over ChromeOS. Regular Windows is part of their bread and butter. It's the OS that is the true productivity workhorse, with some good entertainment thrown in. So the Sun Valley project (adding some polish to the UI), plus revamping the Micrsoft store and allowing Win32, PWA, UWP, is a great idea, and long overdue. I, for one, am very glad they're doing that. And while I use Windows for work (Software engineer, using Intellij and many other tools), I also use Windows at home (well, work is at home too since Covid started) on my Surface Laptop Go. Here, I have a few UWP apps installed from the Store, a few Win32 apps, and I've installed a bunch of PWAs from Edge. With this, it's essentially a lot like a Chromebook, only better/ more powerful (the Win32 and UWP apps, plus WSL). It's light and fast, boots up quickly, gets good battery life, and does almost everything I need it for (light productivity, web browsing, light gaming, listening to music, and streaming video). In reality, it's a great consumer device for me, because my personal usage is almost pure consumer oriented, and the experience is great.
  • Microsoft should've released Windows 10X 10 years ago. It would've made an impact, or even better yet, to rebrand Windows RT at that time, instead of abandoning it. Microsoft didn't abandon Xbox when the 1st gen didn't make an impact. Miccrosoft can't let go of mobile and the future of desktop OSes. They'll start losing consumers and thus enterprise customers in the future (i.e. Blackberry's demise with enterprise). Windows is down to 60% market share in the United States and shrinking. Kids and young teens are all using their iPhones, iPads, and Chromebooks. The writing is on the wall for Microsoft unless there's a drastic investment in mobile and Windows 10X. We didn't wake up one day and see Chrome OS beat MacOS in global market share. It happened in 2020, but it took about 10 years. The world’s second-most popular desktop operating system isn’t macOS anymore in 2020. Chrome OS has 11% while MacOS has 7.5%, Windows stands at 80% worldwide, but it's lead is being worn down slowly.
  • Chrome OS is irrelevant outside US. 11% is not worldwide.
  • I should add that people choose Chrome OS because of Google's integration of Youtube, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, Android apps, Google Maps, Google Home (Microsoft abandoned Cortana for consumers), Wear OS (smartwatches), and other Google services. It'd be like if Tiktok or Facebook released a smartphone, laptop or computer and tightly integrated their social media. They would sell some to all those TikTok fanatics, and there'd be a lot of them. Microsoft missed the internet (sort of), missed social media, and missed the mobile revolution. On a more positive note, Microsoft did NOT miss the gaming revolution (i.e. Xbox) and got into the cloud and AI at the right time. Who would've thought Nintendo and Sega would give way for Microsoft's Xbox, but it happened. Microsoft saw that consoles could or would someday replace the home PC, as consoles grew more powerful and took on an entertainment role in our living rooms. And it turned out to be partly true, consoles are now just PCs in disguise. All of the similar specs, even CPUs and GPUs are the same--just slightly modified. In the future, smartphones could one day be the only device you need. Look at some the phones coming out today, Asus ROG Phone 5 has 18GB of RAM and an overclocked 2.84 Ghz octa-core processor. Windows 10X should still be targeted at smaller, portable PCs, and from there, it can be tweaked to work on mobile devices. So the path would go thru Surface Neo and end up on Surface Duo. We should have two versions of Surface Duo: Android and Windows 10X. One version of Surface Neo: Windows 10X. P.S. Change the name from Windows 10X to something else. Maybe EdgeOS or new name. It wouldn't confuse people anymore. People would immediately know this is Microsoft's "ChromeOS."
  • It's difficult to include windows on Windows ?
    Google and Chrome more secure ? Why ?
  • The author does not understand the topic at all!
  • Windows 10x is the favorite stop being stupid.
    1 Windows 10× that is designed for cheap computers $500 or less 2 Windows 10x design for foldable PCS I think they have given up trying to run 32 apps on Windows 10X that's actually a good thing for everybody.
  • Windows 10X is great idea, to bad Nadella's Microsoft simply lack Courage to make it so.