Windows 10X is a disappointment


After all the hype it’s gotten, the early reports on Windows 10X are very underwhelming.

First, this OS is clearly being marketed as just for dual-screens. The messaging from Microsoft here is awful – “we finally made a modern version of Windows, but you can only get it on an expensive, niche, dual-screen device that no one wants.” What kind of logic is that? I doubt it will ever come to other form factors with the way MS is acting.

The other big problem (as always with Microsoft) is the UI. 10X is repeating the exact mistakes of Windows 8 – absolutely no one wants only full screen apps on a PC and this alone will make 10X a non-starter for most people. Resizable, windowed apps would certainly be easy to implement and are only missing because of Microsoft’s sheer stupidity and arrogance. The exact same thing is true for the for the Start menu – there is no logical reason for one of the most basic UI elements of Windows to be removed. Apparently shortcuts can’t be added to the desktop either, another example of this. None of these changes are necessary and only serve to alienate actual users of the platform.

This would be more justifiable if the UI design was attractive, but it’s just as hideous and inconsistent as Windows 10. The “modern” file explorer is just the old, ugly Windows Phone version. The Win32 File Explorer is there too, for some reason. The window title bars and in-box apps are unchanged. The entire system looks buggy, disjointed, unfinished, and hard to use. Remember, Microsoft has supposedly been working on this “Core OS” thing for years.

It’s also a big assumption that the Win32 containers will even work or have acceptable performance. After all, 10X couldn’t even run Notepad in the demo today, which is just embarrassing. Microsoft has never been successful with this before, why is this time going to be different? It really does look like Windows 10X has been set up to fail spectacularly. When this happens, expect Nadella to use it as the final justification to kill Windows entirely and publicly move to maintenance only.

Comments (28)

28 responses to “Windows 10X is a disappointment”

  1. jrswarr

    Geez - Talk about raining on the parade....

    • Paul Thurrott

      There shouldn't be a parade. We should evaluate this thing based on the information we have. Right now, I understand not being overly excited. I'm on the fence. But as I wrote elsewhere, this is very much an attempt by Microsoft to modernize Windows as a platform, and that's a good thing. We'll see if it works.
      • jrswarr

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Perhaps "raining on the parade" was the wrong turn of phrase but the post just seemed overly negative for what I view is at best a beta release that is not intended for larger format devices. The SDK release is obviously targeted at small 2 screen devices like the Duo and Neo. BNYKLUE is assuming that larger format devices will use the same desktop layout - which remains to be seen. What Microsoft needs right now are apps for these new devices, so it makes sense to release an SDK which targets that development. I for one am excited. Perhaps you should have a little fun with the Notepad project and see what it takes to take advantage of Windows 10X - maybe then even you'll get excited and jump off the dang fence.

        • Paul Thurrott

          Well, we're not assuming other form factors: Microsoft's leaked documentation specifically mentions that. But whatever. It's OK to be disappointed in something. Or happy about it. I've been burned enough times by Microsoft that I'm normally cautious now, but this does strike me a good move overall. I understand someone else in the same position not buying it. And I'm not on the fence.
  2. Piyer

    On the contrary, delighted with the announcement!. Had betted on UWP/Xamarin for our development. 10X is the first edition of the new version of Windows. This would be the first step in decoupling the apps for win32 applications. UWP was already doing that anyway. this is a great move to take all the win 32 applications to the new o/s.

    The UI decoupling is already happening with the new WinUI and XAML islands for WPF apps, very similar to the win 32 containerization.

    The last component would be the o/s decoupling to have truly modular windows to run on x86/64 and ARM architectures. For almost 18 months now, there was no news on the Win IoT. Perhaps the 10X announcement will now set the stage for that as well.

    With C#, .NET core (.NET 5 now), Blazor (WASM), personally, this is the best time to develop for windows!

    • DavidSlade

      In reply to Piyer:

      As a developer, NET, WPF, Blazor etc. I see 10X as big advance. I don't think most commentators here get it. The security aspect, for a start. Do they just want Win10 to go on forever? It is going to be great for developers, and users.

  3. dftf

    I'm still entirely confused as to what Windows 10X is supposed to be.

    I appreciate we shouldn't focus on the dual-screen bit -- and I frankly am wondering why anyone is at-all. Multiple-monitor support has been in Windows now since Windows '95. At work, most people have two-screens and often people use the two screens and their laptop one for a total of three, with separate apps on each. You can even choose in Windows 10 to have a Taskbar on each screen, where it only shows the apps running on that screen.

    So... am I missing something here? What is so-special about multiple screens in 10X?

    Also, if the idea behind 10X is to compartmentalise Windows into various features and functions, so ones not needed can be turned-off to make RAM and CPU use lower, and increase security, then does this mean in the future what is now Windows 10X will become Windows 10 (i.e. a future update for Windows 10 will essentially be the Windows 10X code) or will 10X always remain a separate thing?

  4. jimchamplin

    Why in crap's name would you put shortcuts on the desktop when there's a Taskbar and Start menu?

    • Paul Thurrott

      Wow. Different people work in different ways. I use the desktop as a scratch space that holds current documents and other files. And then I file them accordingly when completed. We all have our own workflows.
      • jimchamplin

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        No, I get that. I should not have worded it so harshly. I meant it in much better humor than it came across.

        And to explain, I meant application shortcuts. I absolutely use the desktop as a scratch pad like space.

      • bnyklue

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        This is exactly the problem with the 10X UI. It's too restrictive and strips away all of what made Windows useful. Windows 8 all over again.

        • Paul Thurrott

          There's a big difference between Windows 8 and Windows 10X. The latter is an option, and for now it's only on a specific new kind of PC. Windows 8 replaced Windows 7 and was the only option available. So 10X will sink or swim on its merits, and it won't take down the entire platform if it fails.
  5. F4IL

    Maybe W10X fails to address what you expect?

    I personally see W10X as an effort toward application containerization which has been a standard in this industry for more than a decade (chromeOS, linux, etc). They can't possibly address your concerns (UI discrepancies / inconsistencies, etc) because they fall outside of the scope of the project.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to F4IL:

      Does containerization require a simplified desktop environment? It's a bundle in Chrome OS but not in Linux. In Linux is quite possible to use any of the top 20 desktop environments with Docker, AppImage, Snap or Flatpak (one or more at the same time). Are there good reasons for tying containers and the 10X desktop environment together other than MSFT implying that the only way anyone gets containers is with the new environment?

      • longhorn

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        This is actually a good idea. Instead of creating a specific Windows version, why not provide the Win32 container/VM to all versions? Do you want to run Win32 applications with full speed and compatibility or do you want them to run in a Win32 container/VM? That's a choice that should be left to users.

        I can see the point of the Win32 container/VM when security is more important than compatibility and speed.

      • F4IL

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I can't really say whether or not containers will be a W10X exclusive. So far, my impression is that the technology will be introduced with W10X and will eventually graduate to Windows proper. I can't even tell if it is going to be a feature of all SKUs because it largely depends on how msft plans to monetize Windows going forward.

        I also wouldn't classify AppImages as a containerized format since they only bundle the application and required libraries (minus the libc) without doing any confinement.

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        The only UI that's been shown so far is this one. When it runs on traditonal PC form factors, it will have a classic Windows style desktop. This is what the "composable shell" was being developed for.

  6. codymesh

    It's easy to criticize and 'talk shit' but Windows 10 X is absolutely the OS a device like the Surface Neo needs. Would you put Windows 10 Pro on it? I wouldn't.

    The Start Menu is not gospel. What's wrong with a grid of icons from which you launch your programs anyway? Isn't the Start Menu also a list of apps? I appreciate the simplicity, and frankly, computers - especially mobile computers - should have always been this simple.


    "absolutely no one wants only full screen apps on a PC"

    this isn't meant for traditional PCs, I think Microsoft has been extremely clear about this.

    "Microsoft has never been successful with this before, why is this time going to be different?"

    so Microsoft should just commit a sunk cost fallacy all the time? You tell us.

    By the way, people have been using the same kind of logic for Windows on ARM, and while it took a while, Microsoft and the Surface Pro X has many of those critics quiet now.

    "The entire system looks (...) unfinished"

    Good news! It isn't finished.

  7. anoldamigauser

    Certainly glad you have cleared this up for us. I guess I better dump my Microsoft stock.

  8. yaddamaster

    I was actually encouraged. Because frankly, if Microsoft cannot pull this off then Windows will truly sunset as a legacy product. It won't disappear but it means it won't be able to modernize as needed.

  9. wunderbar

    I'm sorry, I hadn't realized you have a copy of the final shipping version of windows 10X in your hands to properly test and evaluate.

    This was a developer event with code that is, at best, beta.

    I'm not saying that Windows 10X is actually going to be good, but until we have the final product, or something resembling a final product, in our hands, you can't really evaluate it one way or another.

  10. markbyrn

    "It’s also a big assumption that the Win32 containers will even work or have acceptable performance. After all, 10X couldn’t even run Notepad in the demo today, which is just embarrassing. Microsoft has never been successful with this...."

    Exactly and this what I was hoping to hear from Paul or Brad - harsh realities not fawning pipe dreams.

  11. rob_segal

    In reply to Greg Green:

    It was an event mainly targeted at developers. The bugs were unfortunate, but the benefit of getting these tools in the hands of developers outweigh that.

  12. PeterC

    Mate, seriously? Massive over-reaction.

  13. lvthunder

    Oh my a development version of a new OS that has never been released crashed. Does this surprise anyone? I sure wasn't. Heck you can't even run the emulator on the production version of Windows. What people saw today was a developer event so people like Adobe and all the other software makers can make apps for it or adapt their existing apps to work better on it when it ships at the end of the year.

    Yes the first version is for this dual screen device. Is this device for everyone? No it's not and I don't think Microsoft expects it to be. It won't take much though once the dual screen device is out and they see how it's working in the real world to adapt it for other devices.

  14. rob_segal

    This is an overreaction to a product still in development that you haven't used the production version of yet. A new operating system for a new device category is an easier marketing sell than releasing it on a tablet (Windows RT) or a laptop (Windows 10 S). After that, it can evolve and expand to other, more widely used device types and 10X further matures or Windows 10 adopts some of the technology in 10X.

    The bugginess of the system is to be expected. Creating a Core OS out of Windows is a daunting task. This sort of project takes years, assuming it was even possible to begin with. I know the internet is the platform for sensational overreaction. Judging it months before it's scheduled to hit market is crazy. Judging Windows 10X before seeing how evolves alongside Windows 10 and how Windows 10 evolves alongside Windows 10X is short-sighted. The container technology in Windows 10X has a lot of potential. The performance could be fine. You may not be able to tell a difference between Edge running in a container on new hardware and this upcoming Intel Chip and it running fully natively on a current ultrabook. Same with other apps like Office.

    Patience is a lost art but be patient. Don't rush to judgment. If it's not for you, it's not for you. That's fine. Don't leap to these kinds of conclusion at this time. If anything, moving Windows experiences under Panos Panay could be interpreted as a sign that Microsoft is going to devote more energy into Windows, not sunset or kill it.

  15. hrlngrv

    C'mon. Chrome OS has done so well MSFT just can't help itself wanting to copy it.

  16. Alastair Cooper

    Firstly, it's a pre-release version so many of these things may change before the final release.

    Secondly, it wouldn't be the first time Microsoft launched a major overhaul of Windows that only targeted a subset of use cases - this was exactly how they handled the release of NT, which initially had limitations that meant it couldn't be used as a drop-in replacement for Windows 3.x/95/98.

    I would expect that what will probably happen is that 10X will be limited in its scope to begin with but that eventually it will be phased in as a complement to and ultimately replacement for Windows 10.