Don't bother buying a foldable PC without Windows 10X

Lenovo Foldable
Lenovo Foldable (Image credit: MrMobile)

Last week, Lenovo announced that its ThinkPad X1 Foldable PC would be launching this summer for $2500. It also announced that initially, it will only be available with Windows 10 Pro, with a Windows 10X variant coming later in the year when Microsoft is ready to start shipping Windows 10X. This means that for a significant amount of time, Lenovo's foldable PC will only be available with an OS that isn't designed for the foldable form factor.

So far, Lenovo is the only manufacturer to announce that it will be selling a foldable PC with Windows 10 Pro, but I wouldn't be surprised if other OEMs end up doing the same. Either way, I'm here to tell you that you probably shouldn't buy any foldable PC that ships without Windows 10X. There are a few critical reasons for this, the most important of which is that Windows 10X is actually designed for foldables, unlike Windows 10 Pro.

This is significant, as the software experience is just as important as the hardware experience on foldable PCs. The OS is what will make or break the foldable experience, and Windows 10 Pro is not up to scratch in this department. Windows 10 Pro isn't designed for foldables, meaning it doesn't natively support any of the different postures or setups a user would want to use with a foldable PC.

Windows 10X is key for foldable PCs

Windows 10X

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Windows 10X features a new shell UI that adapts on the fly, which is essential to having a pleasant experience on foldable devices. It's also built on Windows Core OS, a modular version of Windows that's much more lightweight, meaning it's better on battery life and performance. Windows 10X is also "more secure" thanks to sandboxing capabilities, has a less intrusive Windows Updating system and is far more modern than the legacy version of Windows 10 we have today.

For those who do buy Lenovo's foldable PC with Windows 10 Pro, Lenovo will be bundling its own custom software to help alleviate the lack of official support from Windows 10 Pro itself. This will help, but it will not be a streamlined experience, unlike the Windows 10X variant. The only people buying the Windows 10 Pro variant should be enterprise customers who need features specific to Windows 10 Pro, but at that point, you might as well just buy a normal PC. Everybody should wait for the Windows 10X variant.

If you are considering a foldable PC with Windows 10 Pro, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to switch to Windows 10X when it's made available. As I understand it, Windows 10X isn't an OS you can just install on whatever device you want. It uses a similar setup to Windows Phone, with FFU files for flashing the OS image onto devices. Lenovo hasn't said if it will allow those who buy the Windows 10 Pro version to flash Windows 10X onto their devices at a later date.

Either way, I recommend everybody waits for Windows 10X to launch before you consider buying a foldable PC of any caliber. Windows 10X is, in my opinion, essential to these foldable PCs, and will be what makes or breaks this form factor. Buying a foldable PC with Windows 10 Pro will be putting your user experience at an incredible disadvantage that could sour your views on foldable PCs as a whole. I'd reserve judgment until you've tried one with Windows 10X.

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 and Threads