Windows 10X will now launch first on single-screen PCs

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

Microsoft's Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, has today published a new blog post that details his thinking behind the future of Windows, and how Microsoft can innovate with Windows 10X going forward. Panay was recently put in charge of the Windows client in addition to his hardware responsibilities, allowing him greater control over both the hardware and software that Microsoft ships.

In the blog post, Panay details how Microsoft is shifting from launching Windows 10X as an operating system exclusive to foldable PCs to something that will launch on traditional form factors such as laptops and 2-in-1's. This is a result of wanting to meet customers where they are.

The world is a very different place than it was last October when we shared our vision for a new category of dual-screen Windows devices. As we continue to put customers' needs at the forefront, we need to focus on meeting customers where they are now. Our customers are leveraging the power of the cloud more than ever, and we believe the time is right to lean into this acceleration in a different way.With Windows 10X, we designed for flexibility, and that flexibility has enabled us to pivot our focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices that leverage the power of the cloud to help our customers work, learn and play in new ways. These single-screen devices will be the first expression of Windows 10X that we deliver to our customers, and we will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market.

Microsoft is also promising innovation with Windows to ensure it's the best OS for working, learning, and playing. Over the next two holidays, Microsoft says it's going to accelerate innovation in Windows 10. No further details as to what this entails were given.

Thinking about the new Windows + Devices team under Panos Panay

Launching Windows 10X on traditional form factors is going to give more people access to Windows 10X sooner. Those who weren't particularly sold on the idea of foldable PCs will now have the chance to use Windows 10X on a device form factor that's more familiar to them.

No details as to when we can expect Windows 10X to launch were provided. Rumors suggest it has been delayed into next year.

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 could be interesting.
  • Hope it comes to Insider rings for at least existing Surface devices 😎
  • I can't see how as this is not like an Insider build, which is just an update to your existing OS. This is an entirely new OS, so how do you propose they do that? It's akin to asking "I wonder if my Windows 10 Insider ring will let me update to iPadOS?"
  • Well, they could provide images for clean installs.
  • Maybe. I still think that could pose problems and be more complex. There's also the issue of licensing. Your PC is licensed for Windows 10 (Home, Pro, whatever). This is Windows 10X, a new license. Who pays for it? Does Microsoft even count it as a sale/install? That's not a sexy discussion, I understand that, but it's a realistic one that Microsoft would need to answer. Waving our hands around and saying "just make it free, who cares" is easy and all, but not something Microsoft can actually do. A bigger question is just motivation. Microsoft could try to sell you new hardware, built for Windows 10X with Intel Lakefield, with a new experience and features AND make money; or just give it away on last year's hardware for free 🤷🏼‍♂️ If I were a businessperson, I'd probably be thinking of ways to monetize this.
  • Well, yes, but right off the bat I could think of making "digital entitlement" licenses on one device be valid for Windows 10X as well on the same device. It doesn't seem like an unsolvable problem.
  • Never said it was unsolvable or impossible. All these issues are solvable. But Microsoft has stated publicly 10X is only for new hardware, and internally we have heard the same. Also, as mentioned above, I wonder why MS would do this as a business decision vs. selling new hardware with its partners. It's more about strategy/motivation to put the work in to make this happen rather than if it's possible.
  • Well, there is one simple reason: There is no other way to have Insiders test it (apart from VMs) until that hardware has launched unless they want to give Insiders prototype hardware as well, which seems even more unlikely.
  • This is true, and it is possible that Insiders with specific Surface devices may be able to use 10X. There is a glimmer of hope here for that route.
  • "This is true, and it is possible that Insiders with specific Surface devices may be able to use 10X." That is what I think will be most viable since Surface devices can be tweaked firmware wise by MSFT if needed to make 10X insider Os viable. A question for you DR., What do you think current devices might be missing HW wise making them non tenable for 10X? I have been thinking about this a while now from special sensors. are there new hardware parts that 10X really need? Just curious
  • I also wonder if legacy driver support will be an issue. Correct me if I'm wrong, but 10X isn't just a new UI. It also dumps a lot of Windows 10's baggage. So installing 10X on newer devices might be fine, but people aren't going to be happy if they install 10X on their 5 year old laptop and suddenly the wifi stops working.
  • Correct, 10X is an entire new OS. Sure, it has some drivers/bits from Win10, but even how drivers are handled is new (not to mention updates to those drivers).
  • Who else thinks Microsoft/Windows Central is lying about the NAME “Windows 10X”?
  • On what grounds? Windows Central, and Rubino especially, are about as credible as this stuff gets.
  • It's just you.
  • "Who else thinks Microsoft/Windows Central is lying about the NAME “Windows 10X”?"
    You are aware that Microsoft unveiled Windows 10X back in November, right? It's not new. Panos Panay just referred to it as "Windows 10X" in this article and the official blog post. Microsoft, months ago, released an official Windows 10X emulator with documentation for developers, lol, what are you even on?
  • Really! really!!?
    Bothered to answer that question, you are a bigger man than I am
  • @asoyemi Daniel's kryptonite is his glass jaw. No other writer on this site is so easily sucked in.
  • I find it refreshing most of the time. The engagement is real =).
  • @Scabrat Yes, I agree. It's great how Daniel and even the other writers engage.
    I just think Daniel, at times, is too easily baited.
  • I mean nothing stops them from adding an upgrade path (10x branch) in settings.
    It's not akin to ipadOS.
    You will still be able to upgrade to it, at worst clean install.
    You don't need the two Windows OS to be 'compatible'... when you choose the 10x branch, the PC reboots into command prompt. Having said this, I think you will be able to upgrade as opposed to a clean install.
    Windows is still Windows. We saw the startup boot process of W10M every now again when things went south. It was Windows
  • "Windows is still Windows."
    That is an oversimplification that omits all the important details of this case. I would bet money on there never being an upgrade path to 10X. Already from the little we know there seem to be some significant differences. In fact, I think 10X might be more similar to 10 Mobile in its architecture than to 10 proper (but obviously I can't say for sure).
  • In order to upgrade from something, you need to know the inner workings of what you are upgrading.
    If IpadOS was available on mainstream devices. You could upgrade from it to Windows.
    This happens all the time.
    You can write apps for IpadOS in Windows.
    You can upgrade a WordPerfect Document to a Word document.
    You can convert a steam engine to an electric one.
    It is that simplified in theory.
  • Well, I guess it depends on how you define an upgrade. I'm talking about an upgrade as in, you exchange the operating system for another and retain most user and application data. And as I said, that's most likely not going to happen from 10 to 10X.
  • Think of Edge to Edge chrome. 8.1 Silverlight to W10M UWP. There's precedence for this stuff.
  • Yes, but you're over-simplifying again. Edge is one single program. We're talking about an entire operating system. Sure, a good portion of settings plus all UWP apps would be easy to move over to 10X, probably non-UWP Store apps, too. But it starts to get more complex from there already. What about drivers? What about all that third party software outside the Store spread all over the drive? What about their respective application data? Windows 10 upgrades work because all those things can just be copied over entirely to the new installation, but this wouldn't work so easily in this case because applications can't just write their stuff wherever they want. I'm not sure this would be entirely impossible, but it would probably be way too complex for the expected returns. And in fact, there is a precedent for this as well: The upgrade from WP 7 to WP 8.
  • "Think of Edge to Edge chrome." That's not an upgrade. That's an installation of a whole new application and then a migration of data from the old application (which is still installed) to the new. Installing a new OS is very different, especially because many parts of Windows 10 don't exist in Windows 10X. No system component could be guaranteed to work on the new OS so installing the new OS and migrating compatible settings and data could easily brick any existing system. I'd be amazed if this was ever officially supported. Part of the point of Windows 10X is to escape the legacy of Windows that Windows 10 has had to drag along with it. Trying to create an upgrade path from 10 to 10X would mean dealing with all that again.
  • "I mean nothing stops them from adding an upgrade path (10x branch) in settings."
    Nothing except that fact it's an entire new OS with a different UEFI. Hiswona: take a step back, take a deep breath, realize you are out of your league on this stuff. You literally have no idea what you are talking about anymore.
  • What exactly does "a different UEFI" mean here?
  • I don't want to speak for Dan, but I do think that idea is right. UEFI is the new bios-like standard. Part of that is secure boot. For this new os I bet the boot sectors are different and for secure boot, that would make a difference. You would need to turn off secure boot, upgrade if it's even possible, then turn back on secure boot to even think about upgrading. That's a lot to ask a general consumer even if testing. I think if an image is released its either a fresh install ISO or edi(?) image or even a firmware thing you have to flash onto your device. My guess is the former would work though. So you don't have change your UEFI... Maybe that's what he means, you need to flash a new UEFI to even use it. That would be interesting...
  • Come on, come on... lets not go that far. I see your enthusiasm, I am optimistic about 10X as well and I want it on a Surface Go, but calm down here. "Entirely new OS", "It's akin to asking "I wonder if my Windows 10 Insider ring will let me update to iPadOS?"" Windows is still Windows underneath and I bet my everything that the code is the same spaghetti as "normal Windows" with retarded crap like registry and such. They probably reused tons of badly written classes from the legacy Windows that saying its "entirely new OS" is not only a stretch but nonsense. Do you really think its an entirely new OS written from ground 0 with no reuse of code and with best kernel programming best practices? Really? The sole fact that this "entirely new OS" allegedly natively runs Win32 Edge and probably Win32 Office and God knows what else below the surface, speaks enough.
  • @orora, it doesn't run Win32 natively, it has an emulator for those and runs them in a separate space. I believe we've already learned that it does not include a registry, except when running that emulation instance, so that older non-UWP programs can run on it. This feels very much like when Windows NT first came out. It didn't become a consumer OS until Windows XP, where Windows 2000 was almost there. NT/2000/XP was an entirely different system from the Windows 95/98/Me with a fundamentally different architecture, file system, etc.
  • You are wrong.
  • Last I heard, 10X will not be available for installation on existing devices. That's a bummer because I would love to try 10X on my Surface. In time, I could see all (well most of) consumer PCs moving to 10X with legacy 10 being reserved for business devices. From what I've seen of 10X, it looks like an OS of the future. While I like Windows 10 more than other operating systems, it still feels dated in parts and modern in others.
  • I would love it if it would install on my ageing Surface Pro 4 and make it blazing fast with all the Windows 10 bloat stripped away.
  • I know your comment is now a few days old, but it would help to know which devices will be getting windows 10x and when? This gen? Next gen? (I'm not asking you of course ;) The Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2 just came out and it would really hurt the adoption of Windows 10x if it can't be installed. After all, they said the same thing about Windows 10s mode, but ended up distributing it for free. Sorry for the wordy paragraph , just something to think about. :)
  • They haven't even explained what this thing is.
    Why would I want a cheap tablet OS on my power work PC?
    Who said the client want a lean OS? The horror... without tiles even,
    I expect a 2020 power OS to occupy 100GB ISO and 128Gig RAM.
    You tell me it's 3GB ISO and that doesn't give me confidence on it. That's android.
  • Who is making you put a mobile OS on your workstation?
  • "Why would I want a cheap tablet OS on my power work PC?"
    Who said you were going to get it on your "power work PC" anyway? Answer: NO ONE. This is for thin/light devices, laptops, etc. New mobile experiences, dual-screen devices, convertibles, etc. It doesn't replace Windows 10 Pro, nor has that ever been said or implied. It's only for new hardware that will come out later with it, not your "power work PC" (whatever that is). We have written plenty on this topic, what 10X is (we've even linked you to it!). If you don't want to read it, that's fine, but coming into comments and spouting this stuff because you won't take the time to read up on it is on you.
  • My power PC is a laptop. There really is no difference in motherboard terms is there. Same SSD sticks for example fits all desktop and mobile.
  • Then why do people buy iOS and Android devices. Why would anyone have anything but a bloated version of Windows on their PC?
  • Still not very clear what are actually those thin/light devices which are not phones and aren't powerful enough to run Windows 10. My wife's laptop is very compact. If some device can be put in a pocket it would probably compete with phones. Other portable devices can complete with Windows laptops or Chromebooks. The main question we should ask: why Windows 10X is better than Windows 10 for the target devices and why it is better than Android OS. Power consumption and security are not enough for the success. Low price is also not the case. Maybe some unique device style?
  • Android is slightly outdated and inefficient as well. I think you mean iOS or ChromeOS. Anyway W10X could in theory offer the same advantages while offering 'full' legacy support by containerization (which would be an elegant solution to still provide legacy support without a bloat OS). Anyway I disagree with your conclusions; security is important for entreprise, power consumption is important for roadwarriors and tablet-like devices and many workers etc.
  • "I expect a 2020 power OS to occupy 100GB ISO and 128Gig RAM.
    You tell me it's 3GB ISO and that doesn't give me confidence on it. That's android." What a ludicrous nonsense.
  • "They haven't even explained what this thing is." Yet you proceed to trash it . The irony.
  • "WIndows 10X is no longer exclusive to foldable PCs, will launch on laptops too." Did Microsoft ever say that W10X would be exclusive to dual-screen devices? Based on WC's own reporting, that doesn't sound like it was ever the case - it was always intended as the ultimate W10 replacement. And Panos Panay is definitely not saying that in this blog post - he's talking about a shift in emphasis.
  • "Did Microsoft ever say that W10X would be exclusive to dual-screen devices? "
    Yes. At the time of the Neo's announcement Microsoft was very clear that 10X was, initially, just for dual-screen PCs. From our own internal reporting, we knew they had bigger plans for it with single screen later on.
    "it was always intended as the ultimate W10 replacement"
    That is not what 10X is, no. Windows 10X is to deliver a more modern OS experience for mobile computing devices, at first dual-screen ones, later single-screen thin clients. Windows 10 Pro/Home will continue to be a thing for many years to come for, what I think, are obvious reasons. I've written about that here.
  • So, honest question with no ill feeling intended, but does this mean the neo is dead, or just hibernating?
  • "...and we will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market." - Panos Panay That sounds like delay, not dead.
  • We need touchscreen DOS.
  • with pen and swiftkey. C:\pen/?
  • Now you're talking!
  • At least the bios supports touch I recently noticed. :)
  • Makes me wonder if they'll have a single-screen Surface device to launch with 10X.
  • I guess a lot depends on how mainstream Microsoft want this to be, for example, is it supposed to be a replacement for Windows 10 Home? Will it be mainstream for Enterprises? Will Microsoft really want to build and maintain two operating systems in parallel? For my personal use I just need something fast and light hence I would be happy to upgrade my existing Surface to 10x. Hopefully Surface Go ARM with 10x follows soon!
  • The Go 2 could have been a contender but it may be too late for that. I suspect that we'll see it on third-party hardware first now.
  • I've got a super cheap Chuwu Hi8 8" dual boot Windows 10 + Android tablet from a few years back that I dusted off and updated the other day. It's pretty useless because it's an old Atom, has 29GB hdd between both OSs (the Windows partition is only 19GB), the battery lasts about 40 minutes (though I'm lucky to get that long out of my Surface Pro 5 these days to be fair) and the touchscreen is pretty janky. BUT I find the form factor fantastic. It fits in my back and inside jacket pockets, majority of Windows 10 scales pretty nicely these days, it can cast to a big screen when needed... The power of carrying full Windows around in your pocket is amazing and W10 isn't as far away from being nice to use in a tablet form factor as people like to moan about. When the Duo was announced along with W10X I thought The Ultimate Device was finally here. I saw it as a convergence of everything Microsoft has been building up to across Surface and Windows Phone for a truly portable always connected work device. I would gladly take telephony in that form factor as well thank you very much. Coupled with a dock with some additional horsepower it could have been perfect. Now I get the sense it's going to be deprioritised and likely won't see the light of day in its current form factor. That might be a good thing... A bit longer to perfect the OS and have people a bit more used to dual screens in phones, an opportunity for OEMs to take some of the risks. But I've been burnt by MS too many times over the years to not feel cynical about it...
  • I used that Chuwi tab until somebody stepped on it about two months ago. I struggled with it until I was able to update it to the latest Windows 10. It was like a rebirth of some sort. I never went to the Android side again. It was portable and very capable for what I used it for. Reading, browsing, viewing photos, even remoting my into clients' computers. I managed to get four hours out if it per charge with continous use. I wish hardware makers will make more 8-inch Windows tabs.
    I am looking at a Pipo model but I would prefer the more traditional OEMs to make one.
  • 10X is just RT revamped...
  • A lot of people are far too free with the word "just". You could say that 10X is RT revamped from the perspective of the roles they were both intended to fill but to say that it is "just" that is blatantly false.
  • I suppose you actually used Windows 10X on hardware it was intended for then or are you just trolling?
  • I like it for WoA machines (Surface Go 3), but still want my Neo!
  • Just a guess, but the new normal of being forced to sit in your house for days on end might have clued MSFT into a change in computer services. The last earnings report showed Azure cooking along at 60% plus growth. They know what Teams, Office 365, etc. are doing. So if everyone is figuring out they need to move their systems to cloud based Saas services, then yeah, give me a windows 10X 12 hour device now. Maybe the new 10X machines will be introduced sooner rather than later. I can see the leadership team going, What are we going to do Panos? I can see Panos saying this Neo and Duo are really cool. But the Windows 10 just wont work. So lets dump android on the Duo and keep getting 10X ready for Neo. But then the Wuhan virus hits. Cloud usage spikes. People buy out the laptop stock around the nation. Well MSFT Leadership huddles up and says, maybe we need to think about this a bit. their first decision was to push the Neo out to 2021. We got too many fires to put out. Then they say maybe 10X will be useful sooner rather than later on a laptop. So they decide 10X goes on a laptop first. Seems to me it is far easier to integrate 10X into the current laptop ecosystem. Especially if you say we are only going to do this on new hardware with a few chosen OEM's making sure their engineering staff can get 10X working smoothly within their company. I think it would be far easier to walk up to any large Corporation and say, we have these 10X laptops that work real well with your information services, it is secure, cheap, etc. Would you like to start integrating them into your operations for your more flexible stay at home workforce? Proctor and Gamble says sure, I will take 1000 units.
  • Are you sure you don't have an inside man at MSFT leadership meetings?
    It's ok to fess up here at WC, you are among friends... I think
  • I will say it again - give me a Surface Go with:
    - Windows 10X
    - ARM with connectivity and Sim/eSim
    - no proprietary connectors, but type-C (2 type-Cs would be perfect, but let's not ask for that much)
    - audio jack!
    - slimmer bezels (Surface Pro X or iPad-like aesthetics) and thinner body I won't only buy one for myself in a heartbeat, but I'll buy for my family too. Just DO IT Microsoft!
  • @oraora Sounds good but that would be prohibitively expensive. It would have a niche market at best.
  • What is the practical advantage of an even thinner body?
  • I don't know how many times I grab my Go and inadvertently scroll through a book or some other touch jester. I don't know how you solve that problem with thinner bezels.
  • There is no way W10X will be ready this year. There is a small chance it will be ready next year. Microsoft can't decide what touch UI/UX model to use on a mature OS and built in browser. Who in their right mind trusts they will be able to produce consistent UI in a new OS.
  • I trust Panos Panay to have the right instincts counseled by Microsoft's massive market research and telemetry data. His new role gives me significantly more faith in MS getting this right than anytime since Windows Phone 8.
  • They should sell a version of Surface Go 2 with 10X.
  • Windows 10X needs to go head to head with Chrome OS, if it isn't already, to counter the Chromebook ads going around at the moment.
  • @neo158 There is no need to compete with Chrome OS. It has a global desktop market share of less than 1% and even in it's best market being the U.S it is under 4%.
    Even then most of that 4% are financially struggling schools. This whole idea that Chrome OS is a threat has been blown way out of proportion.
  • Doesn't mean that Chrome OS isn't a competitor, Windows 10 Mobile had a very small market share but was still a competitor to Android and iOS. Why do people think that to be a competitor you MUST have 10%+ market share 🤔🤦‍♂️
  • Well, ChomeOS has more to do with a school's IT department and the easy nature of configuring 100s of devices. But Teams/O365 needs a better ecosystem to meet this challenge. Maybe 10X is a good solution for solving the IT department task in a large group of devices used in an organization.
  • Don't worry neo, Neo is the chosen one.
  • I don't get it. I swear I've been using Win 10 on dual screen setups for years, and Win 7 and XP before that. What the problem was, is that Windows didn't, and doesn't, lend itself well to small screens or small touch screens. Windows Phone did. Window 8 might have, but never got a chance to. So, are we trying to squeeze Windows into something that would work on a tablet-ish device, but release it on a laptop/desktop? Windows doesn't need to be simpler. They need an OS for a simpler/smaller device.
  • Have you seen Windows 10X?
  • Hopefully the whole "let's put the hardware guy in charge of the software too" thing goes better for Microsoft than it did for Apple.
  • @Daniel will 10x allow Microsoft to compete with Chromebooks or is 10x geared for more expensive hardware? Than again maybe its one of those who in the world knows...
  • I predict we will see Windows 10 X in the next 13" Surface Pro X and they will reveal it's little brother, the 11" Surface Go X. Two key devices that will push ARM and Windows 10 X devices for Microsoft.
  • @MrContinuum What are you basing that prediction on?
  • I think that could be quite a tempting prospect, especially the Go X with ARM, so long as the price is good, so down around the Go 2 pricing, perfect for kids and my Father, who loves the simplicity of his iPad.
  • When Surface Duo and Surface Neo were revealed, my first thought was "these things are never going to come out." That sentiment has not changed.
  • i'd like to know if mfc apps are going to be supported. will they run on win10x (in win32 container)? i know it's an old technology but i guess still used and there are still lots of mfc apps there...