A closer look at Microsoft's new Action Center on Windows 10X

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

Windows 10X is Microsoft's modern take on what Windows as an OS can be in 2020 and beyond, featuring an entirely new user interface built with contemporary and fluid design at the forefront of its experience. Today, we're taking a closer look at the new Action Center that Microsoft is building out for Windows 10X. It's quite the departure from the experience on Windows 10 and is an improvement in pretty much every way.

Welcoming a new design

We kick things off with an overview of its design. Visually, the Action Center on Windows 10X looks very different from the Action Center on Windows 10. It's split up into different "panels" with your quick actions (now known as quick settings) at the very bottom, and your notifications housed above it in a separate panel. Functionally, these serve the same purpose as they do on Windows 10, but the quick settings panel has a couple of new tricks up its sleeve.

The first new ability is that certain quick settings are now configurable directly from within the Action Center. Actions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ease of access are configurable without being taken to another applet or the Windows Settings app first. On Windows 10, the quick actions operate as an off/on toggle only, with no way to configure them directly from within the Action Center itself.

Windows 10X Action Center settings

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

Being able to configure some settings for quick actions is a massive improvement over what Windows 10 has. It's much more intuitive, as there's no reason to be taken out of the UI you're currently in to change simple things such as Bluetooth or ease of access settings. This new Action Center is so much of an improvement that I'm hoping it shows up on the full Windows 10 OS in the future.

Music control

Also new to the Action Center on Windows 10X is a new music control panel that appears whenever an app is playing audio. It replaces the dated music control UI on Windows 10 with something that fits the rest of Windows 10X's aesthetic. As of right now, there's no way to scrub audio that's playing through this panel, but I wouldn't be surprised if that shows up in a later build before the public launch.

Windows 10X Ac

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

The notifications panel that sits above the music control and quick settings panel behaves similarly to Windows 10. It houses all your notifications, and groups them under different apps when they come in. You can jump into the Windows Settings app to further control where and how notifications appear, and there's a "Clear all" button at the top right of the notifications panel.

The Action Center also acts as your system tray overflow, with details like battery percentage appearing in the bottom left on a device with a battery inside. You've also got power options, a settings shortcut, and your user profile picture located at the bottom right, as those functions no longer reside with the Start menu on Windows 10X. Clicking on your user picture will give you options to lock and sign out of your PC.

That's our closer look at the new Action Center on Windows 10X, shaping up as a sizeable improvement over its predecessor. I really appreciate the added functionality with the ability to configure certain quick actions from directly within the Action Center itself, but it is missing things. You can't see your calendar overview from clicking the clock anymore, for example.

This is prerelease software, so there's still time to add and improve things. What are your thoughts on the new Action Center so far? 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 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • This is why Live Tiles aren't needed. That functionality and more is covered here. Too bad this operating system wasn't released alongside a productivity focused Windows 8. We might be in a much different place today.
  • But Windows 10X won't be on desktop PCs so live tiles are still needed there
  • Desktop Windows never needed Live Tiles anyways. Either way, Windows 10 has it's own notification center and it will likely be updated to match this action center in the fall update. It sounds like it is getting the start menu from 10X at least, why not the action center too?
  • As had Windows Mobile. That's no reason.
  • Without advanced functionality, Live Tiles were just a redundant notification center when the notification center was added to WP8.1 and in W10M. They really added no utility. Remember, WP7 and WP8 didn't have a notification center as Microsoft considered Live Tiles acceptable as notifications.
  • There is still no alternative for widgets, LiveTiles at least did replace that. I don't care what in the end will be the solution but as it is; it is a step backwards regarding productivity options (unless MS is working on something that can replace livetiles or add widgets).
  • I agree, no more need for live tiles.
  • You guys are forgetting about widgets, at least livetiles replaced that. Even ios supports widgets, we need something that adds such functionality (whether it is a direct copy of widgets or a new implementation).
  • from the looks of it, it looks like we will be moving to a newer updated version of windows 10 pro in which it will have these windows 10X features, like the new taskbar and this new Action center. I will love to see Widgets for the desktop where we can get live widgets instead of live tiles.
  • If it came to removing live tiles, widgets are a fine replacement, either have them on the desktop or within the start menu, but I like the live tiles regardless
  • Yep, placing widgets to the start menu replacing live tiles would be as revolutionary as renaming Windows Defender to Microsoft Defender.
  • Yeah, I'm fine without Live Tiles if there is a replacement for it. Widgets system is the most obvious if not the best replacement for Live Tiles. Widgets have interactivity that Live Tiles does not (Interactive Live Tiles were supposed to do this but mysteriously abandoned before the launch of Windows 10). They can even have backwards compatibility for existing apps using Live Tiles where you can pin them like Widgets but without buttons or something to interact with except for opening the app. This at least give a transition until the developer adopts/switch over to the new Widget framework. Have them pinned in Desktop/Homescreen which makes them glanceable and always available when there is no app/window on that screen. Better than hiding them in a Start menu or Action Center. If system resource consumption is a concern, then there should a way to optimize them. Like pausing their activity when desktop is completely covered by full-screen/maximised window. OS should try to manage their memory and CPU consumption.
  • On the Surface Duo (powered by Microsoft Launcher), swiping to the left takes you to the Glance section where you can add Android Widgets. I hope Windows 10X duplicates that feature for the sake of consistency. Always liked the widget functionality of the live tiles.
  • @Brian2014 "But Windows 10X won't be on desktop PCs" Not to start with but imho I'm sure MS are hoping to extend it to desktops at a later date.
  • When are live tiles EVER needed?
  • It'd be interesting to see how things would have turned out if this was released in the place of Windows RT. Even if 10X is essentially the evolution of WinRT.
  • I must have missed something. Why exactly?
  • Grabbing popcorn I guess
  • Because you will have quick access to information and much more utility than Live Tiles ever had through this Action Center.
  • How exactly? I can't see that anywhere. Give me an example of how would I see weather, stock info, server status, match standings, or any of that. How would this Action Center incorporate status overview of things that are a continuous snapshot of things?
  • lmao ..ok sure , maybe you should stick to sucking on that bleach bottle you ******, like a bar full of notifications without any space left to show other details can replace a customizable (start menu)dashboard that can be extended as required. :))) f3k off , quick access my arse.
  • For notification yes, but for passive information. Having everything in Notification area will simply clutter it. I mean you can have persistent Weather notification there (in Android you can), in expense of space for other notifications. Thing is, Live Tiles or other dashboard or widget UI paradigm allows you have user to separate these things without cluttering each other and focus on core functionality. Also for Widgets (not Live Tile) can offer more functionality that the Actions Center. Since if you cram every feature there, things get busy again. Action Center is best for notification and quick action settings. Media Controls is sort of anywhere goes, but it is nice to have the control there as well.
  • Exactly. Not to mention that Notifications are also supported in the most horrid way in many cases. If anyone ever used more than a mobile phone, or more than one desktop knows that switching in between computers with the same amount means that you have to read through the same notifications over and over, and over again. While Live Tiles are perfect for status (volatile) information.
  • The two live tiles I find most useful are XE Currency and CryptoChart. I can see the latest exchange rates right from the Start Menu . If third-party apps can plug in to the Action Center, I'd be happy. Otherwise, the removal of the live tile functionality is a loss on a convenience perspective.
  • I would love to see this Action Center show up on full Windows 10 as well, with the new swipe up gesture to access it and all
  • Yeah, this is a huge improvement over what we have now. Quick Actions are more fully featured here that it doesn't always to go to Settings app tk configure something. Media Playback control really needs to have scrubbing though, and I think tweak the UI. It kinda looks odd with that centred overly-spaced playback buttons and tiny Album Art.
  • WOW looks secksi.
  • It looks so much better without live tiles.
  • So clicking on the clock doesn't bring up the calendar? That's dumb if so.
  • Yeah that one is the only thing that is missing as compared to what we have now. What they can do is to have Clock and Date card in Action Center, then when you click that card then you have the similar UI from regular Windows 10, but with new UI. So they can add it, hopefully.
  • Will there be a dark mode for this menu? It so ugly in white.
  • Most likely, since UWP has easy support for dark mode and 10X seems to be even build more on/around UWP from the looks.
  • I would love to see this Action Center to come over to Windows 10 Desktop soon. But they have to add missing features first like the lack of Calendar + Clock flyout that we currently have on desktop. They can add additional Clock + Date card then when tapped/click will expand into full calendar with clock at the top. There you can see other appointments based on the selected date in calendar, world clocks, and active alarms. One thing they need to do as well is to have Action Center + Notifications available on Lockscreen as well, which in Windows 10 Desktop is still missing for no reason. Requiring you to login first just to read notifications or change toggles in Action Center.
  • It’s amazing to me how many here are still clinging to “live” tiles. They - like Windows phones - failed. Windows phones are long gone. “Live” tiles will soon be gone. Microsoft can’t continue to push stuff that the vast majority of people don’t want. That’s the road to nowhere. The above screen shots look great. Simple and uncluttered. Unlike “live” tiles.
  • The reason for that is because they offered also functionality of widgets. That functionality will be missing now (unless MS has a good alternative, which the notification center isn't).
  • Where is the video on this? Come on Zac stop slacking. I like your videos.
  • "Live Tiles" were never needed. It was a refreshingly new and convenient way to get information updated simultaneously at the same time and had a unique user interface.
  • It is all about Android experience on Windows. When Windows phone failed, many people, just like me, were forced to use Android phone. None of us had a choice (overpriced Apple I don't consider). This is a way how to stay in game for Microsoft. Just bring style and experience from Android to Windows. Why push people to use something other than what they have on their mobile? Especially when they spend about 80% of their time on their mobile phone? Icons, color schemes, and themes look like made by Android team. The layout of controls in the new Edge browser is the same as in Chrome. Your phone app uses images as if they were from Android gallery ... and so on. When I was changing my phone, I was afraid the Windows would become Android. And now my foreboding become reality. I never wanted to use Android, but now I also have it on my computer. I guess that there is a non-public market-sharing agreement ... Now It's time to prepare for Windows-Android or Android-Windows world.
  • Any news about Cortana in Windows 10x ???