Microsoft has remained unforthcoming regarding its launch plans for Windows 10X operating system. Back in Microsoft’s 2019 Surface launch event, the company first announced a new streamlined version of Windows – known as Windows 10x – and even after almost a year, Microsoft hasn’t yet specified what to expect from Windows 10X when it launches next year.
Though, the software giant earlier this year revealed that Windows 10X is being now reworked for single-screen PCs after being preliminary announced for the dual-screen and foldable devices. But the most important question that still remains unanswered is how Microsoft intends to keep Windows 10X alongside its beloved operating system Windows 10, knowing that they both operate on the same form factors.
Microsoft cited the ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as part of the reason for its change to Windows 10X. “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,” Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay stated back in May.
Like millions of people across the globe I have been keeping a close watch on Windows 10X advancement to get new info about the upcoming version of Windows 10. Recent sources suggest that Microsoft has been planning to remove a significant feature from its Windows 10X version.
Virtualized Application Interface Layer (VAIL), the technology that Microsoft uses to offer Win 32 applications access to the legacy Win32 APIs via running in a local container, has been removed from the latest internal builds of the Windows 10X OS.
The major reason why VAIL will not be a part of Windows 10X on those single-screen devices is due to program performance and battery lifetime. These low-cost PCs just aren’t strong enough to virtualize local Win32 APIs on top of Windows 10X without slowing down things, and this defeats the point of Windows 10X being a lightweight version of Windows 10.
However, the company understands that shipping a product under the name of “Windows” without some form of legacy app support is actually madness.
In light of this, Microsoft is planning to launch Windows 10X with support for legacy Win32 applications streaming using the cloud.
However, the elimination of the substantial VAIL feature indicates that the software giant is now planning to reposition Windows 10X as a platform made to compete with the cheaper products of a range, i.e., Chromebooks and web apps front and center.
The pivot to single-screen PCs is exactly what pushes this change in the approach. Originally designed as an OS to power foldable PCs and laptops, Windows 10X will now be released in the very opposite end of the spectrum, on low-end tablets and notebooks designed for the education and business purposes.
These changes mean Microsoft won’t be releasing Windows 10X like it had planned to do so in spring 2021.
Microsoft’s local Win32 application interface will not be a part of these low-cost single-screen devices. Users will have the ability to run universal Windows platform (UWP) apps and other web-based programs powered by Microsoft Edge, but not legacy Win32 desktop apps. Web-based programs is going to be the driving element for program accessibility on Windows 10X, just like Google’s Chrome operating system.
What’s the Future of Windows 10X?
If you’ve been keeping a close eye on Windows 10X’s development since before this stripped-down version of Windows was officially unveiled, you’ll be familiar with that the reports at first illustrated Windows 10X (codenamed Santorini and Windows Lite operating system) as a Google’s Chrome OS competitor.
This idea to pivot to single-screen PCs that take direct aim at Chromebooks isn’t appeared out of the blue; it’s been part of the plan since the very beginning.
Soon after Windows 10X’s unveiling in October 2019, Microsoft decided to dwell its Chromebook competitor tactics and focus on the flagship premium PCs in the foldable space market instead.
A couple of months later, once the outbreak of the coronavirus started to become a pandemic, Microsoft decided to switch back to its original plan, launching Windows 10X on low-cost single-screen PCs that compete with Chromebooks first instead.
Needless to say, these plans could take a U-turn again, but assuming they don’t, what are your thoughts on Microsoft’s plans to ship Windows 10X without “legacy” local Win32 app support? Do let us know in the comments section below.