More than 18 months after it was first announced, Windows 10X is no more.
In an official blog post, Windows Servicing & Delivery head John Cable confirmed that Microsoft would no longer be bringing the operating system to market in 2021, as it had originally planned. Judging by the rest of the statement, it likely never will.
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. There have been plenty of bumps in the road since Windows 10X was first unveiled in October 2019, with the hype that surrounded that initial announcement inevitably dying down.
Windows 10X was specifically designed for dual-screen devices, but in May 2020 Microsoft announced that it would debut on single-screen PCs instead. This made a lot of sense at the time – it's worth testing how well the software runs on hardware that people are familiar with first.
However, it did put the ‘Holiday 2020’ release date of the dual-screen Surface Neo into doubt. Microsoft hasn’t said anything official about the Neo since it was first announced, but the company quietly removed the product listing from its website in July 2020. Rather than a simple delay, that suggested the Surface Neo would never come to market.
Then came the rumours. Initially, Windows 10X would debut in Spring 2021. Then it was put back to later this year. Most people excited about the software had become fed-up waiting for it to arrive, but it would eventually. Right?
Wrong. The future of Windows 10X was cast into doubt following a Petri article earlier this month, before Microsoft itself confirmed the news this week.
However, while this may mark the end of the road for Windows 10X in its current form, there are signs the project hasn’t gone to waste completely. The clearest indication comes in the same blog post announcing the cancellation, where Cable explains that Microsoft is ‘accelerating the integration of key foundational 10X technology into other parts of Windows and products at the company’.
He goes on to talk about some of the upcoming Windows 10 features that have already been inspired by Windows 10X. A new touch keyboard and improved voice typing are relatively minor changes, but it’s encouraging to see Microsoft focusing on the touchscreen experience. Tablet mode has long been one of Windows 10’s key weaknesses, so treating it as a priority is good news for fans of 2-in-1 devices.
Dual-screen PCs aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, either. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, originally slated to be a Windows 10X launch device, eventually arrived late last year. However, its pioneering hardware was let down by limitations in the regular version of Windows 10. The future of the Surface Neo also remains unclear – Microsoft may choose to follow Lenovo’s lead at some point in the future.
Windows 10’s new Action Center already looks a lot like the one that was set for Windows 10X, while Microsoft is taking steps towards making the Start Menu easier to navigate. Refreshed default apps are widely expected in the 21H2 ‘Sun Valley’ update, alongside improvements to multitasking.
Despite it not coming to market, the development of Windows 10X has undoubtedly shaped the future of Windows 10. While some have said now is the time for Windows 11, it’s clear Microsoft is set on streamlining the existing experience for the 1.3 billion+ Windows 10 devices already out there.