Microsoft Shares More Details on Windows 10X

Posted on February 11, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows, Windows 10, Windows 10X with 51 Comments

At the Microsoft 365 Developer Day, Microsoft is sharing more details on Windows 10X. The company is releasing the new Windows 10X emulator to let developers build and test apps for dual-screen devices as well.

One of the main features of Windows 10X will be fast updates. Microsoft highlighted that updates in Windows 10X will happen in the background, allowing users to install new updates with a single reboot that takes less than 90 seconds. This is possible because in Windows 10X, the OS itself is seaprate from the drivers and apps.

Windows 10X will also allow users to run Win32 apps through a new Win32 container in the operating system. Windows 10X’s Win32 container will allow for improved security, too, while allowing for the usual integration with the OS. Users will be able to download apps from the Microsoft Store, or a website, just like they would normally. Win32 app developers will not have to make any modifications to their apps to make them work well within the Win32 container in Windows 10X.

Windows 10X will also allow Win32 developers to take advantage of dual-screen Windows 10X devices. The new Win32 container does sound pretty great on paper, but Microsoft’s very simple demo of Notepad running on the container failed at the stage during the event.

The Win32 container in Windows 10X is essentially a simplified shell of Win32. It won’t have desktop shell features like system tray applets and File Explorer add-ins. The Win32 container also won’t allow startup tasks to launch at login, and background tasks might be suspended, too.

All of this is because Microsoft wants to focus on battery life and security with Windows 10X.

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Comments (51)

51 responses to “Microsoft Shares More Details on Windows 10X”

  1. thalter

    90 seconds to install updates? That's a minute and a half. That doesn't sound all that great.

  2. starkover

    Go to the Microsoft developer day site, and watch the video How Win 10X runs win32 and UWP apps. Explains a lot. If they pull it off successfully, it is going to be big.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to starkover:

      Thanks for posting this. Good information on this page.

    • wbtmid

      In reply to : starkover: Interesting video, thanks for the info. The "Microsoft knows best" approach with limited support for a real file system, reminds me of Windows RT, of which I have very bad memories!! I still have one of the largely useless devices lying around! Someone else mentioned Windows 8, another nightmare of usability! I still detest the default setup of the Microsoft user directory that makes it difficult to use a directory structure that makes more sense to me! MS continues to make it more difficult to set up MY computer like I like it set up! Sigh! Windows 10X looks like more of the same!
      • starkover

        In reply to wbtmid:

        The weakness of WinRT and later S-Mode, was that they lacked the ability to run many of the apps people wanted or needed. Assuming this architecture works, it will run almost anything. That's big.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Or go here, since I explain it in simpler English.
  3. bluvg

    "Users will be able to download apps from the Microsoft Store, or a website"

    Because it's much more convenient to look all over the web for something rather than all in one place at the Store.

    Ugh. Don't ditch the Store, Microsoft! Just do it better this time.

    • NuAngel

      In reply to bluvg:

      Even the new Chromium Based Edge has its own website and is not available through the store. I just don't see it becoming much better. Add to that the ease of installing PWA's from their parent websites and you don't even really NEED a store front.

      • bluvg

        In reply to NuAngel:

        Need? No. Want? Definitely! Why does Microsoft think people would rather hunt all over the internet for apps instead of finding them curated, consistently presented (reviews, etc.), etc. all in one place? Do they think people would rather go to the potato store and the mayo store and the milk store rather than the grocery store, too?

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to bluvg:

          Serious question: does the average home user search for much new, or install something they downloaded over a decade ago and still use? Flipping this around, would Google, Mozilla, or the developers of Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, etc want to trust MSFT to host their alternatives to Edge?

          Also, your metaphor is inapt. Needing to travel physically to multiple groceries would be a pain, but buying groceries for delivery from WalMart, Target, Safeway, and Whole Foods/Amazon from the same PC isn't all that much trouble. No more than it was for my grandmother 50+ years ago to have the dairy, butcher, green grocer, and dry goods each separately deliver what she ordered by telephone.

          • bluvg

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            The conflict of interest is a good counterpoint, especially if Microsoft is taking a cut. Microsoft owning the OS is similar, although somewhat less significant.

            My comparison is exaggerated to accentuate the difference. If people now were given the choice between going to ONE "store" to buy from that same butcher, grocer, etc. instead of going to each individually, I don't think you'll find too many preferring the latter. Agreed, buying from the WalMart store is easier than going to one store for eggs, one for milk, one for pork, one for beef, etc.--whether it's physically or online.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to bluvg:

              You misunderstand. Shopping at WalMart, Target, Safeway, AND Whole Foods, ALL of them. Toilet paper from one, cereal from another, pasta from a third, and meat from the fourth. If it's cheaper to do that despite 4 delivery fees and the opportunity cost due to time spent on 4 different sites, I'm going to prefer shopping at all 4 than to buying everything from just one of them.

              One single seller is usually not best for buyers. It may work for Amazon, but only because they put the squeeze on their suppliers.

              • bluvg

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                If we're talking like Steam vs. the Microsoft Store or something--where each store offers a ton of stuff from different ISVs--that makes sense, but not if we're talking each ISV selling their own directly.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to bluvg:

                  Perhaps I'm hopelessly naive with respect to value of economic incentives, but I figure if ISVs perceived value for themselves to putting their software into the MSFT Store, they would have done so already. That most of them haven't strikes me as evidence they don't see sufficient value in making their software available through the MSFT Store.

                  Sure, end users, customers for MSFT and ISVs, could vote with their wallets and refuse to buy any software not fron the MSFT Store, but that particular economic incentive doesn't seem to apply because enough users appear to remain willing, in fact, to go to individual ISVs sites to download software which they intend to install.

                  A single source for software obviously makes sense for MSFT if it gets a cut of all sales revenues from its stote. It may make sense for users if it could host nearly everything nearly every user would ever want. (Doubtful with respect to older shareware and freeware no longer maintained by their developers; still usable, and free to use, maybe even free for MSFT to provide AS-IS, but likely not possible for MSFT to repackage as Store desktop software while maintaining the legal principle of the sacrosanctity of software license terms.) The open question is what value ISVs would see in it, and based on recent history, it sure seems they don't perceive sufficient value.

                • netwrkr

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  If it was just a matter of posting it to the store, i'm sure more isv's would take that step. to get into the store requires some technical changes to the applications that are not trivial.

        • NuAngel

          In reply to bluvg:

          You keep asking "Why does Micrrosoft think..." but the reality is, they have a store, and it's practically empty. They "think" what they "think" because the data tells them to think that way. The developers haven't put their apps in the store. It's more convenient for me to use a 3rd party site like to set up a new computer than it is to open the store app. It shouldn't be that way, but that's the reality. It isn't Microsoft's decision, it's the fact of the matter.

          • bluvg

            In reply to NuAngel:

            That's not the fault of "stores" in general, but because Microsoft screwed up so badly time and time again with their Store (a history surely not necessary to recount to recognize the tons of mistakes). You don't take a shoe with a nail in it and then swear off footwear forever and say "I can find other ways to walk," you get a shoe without a nail.

  4. Vladimir Carli

    I think it’s really amazing that Microsoft insists on how long it takes to update. It can take 1 or 30 minutes, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the control you have over when and if to update.

  5. Winner

    Well I thought Windows 10 was "the last version of Windows."

    As usual Microsoft has put itself in a corner. They want it to look like the same version (Windows 10) even though if it is a new architecture as significant as it appears to be, it's a bigger update than previous full-name/number version updates.

    It's good that they might actually be trying to improve the antique architecture of this OS.

  6. nbplopes

    Another Windows version.

    I'm both e heavy Windows and macOS user. Granted, more of a macOs user in the last 6 years, only use Windows for Visual Studio.

    Just the other day was playing with a Surface Book 2 of a colleague. One thing that stroke me was that the experience in general is far less snappier than on macOS.

    IMHO, to reduce engineering complexity, MS should fork Windows and make it work really, really well on the Surface line. I mean Apple style. A fork if necessary for a super optimised experience, machine level affinity. Learn from that and then merge with the general version of Windows.

    I understand that OEM might be a bit wary of this, as Surface products could potentially have an edge over whatever PCs they make. Yet, where will they go when it comes to bundling an OS on a PCs? I mean, this would only be a problem for OEM if actually MS was very successful with this approach ... Meaning users actually see that if works so much better on the Surface ... that they want the same on they favorite machines ... (or buy a Surface).

    I think that might be what they are doing now for the Duo ... not sure as it looks like another half hearted attempt.



    PS: I thought w32 apps in the store already used the container approach. At leat at some point, unless it did not work very well ...

    • Stooks

      In reply to nbplopes:

      IMHO my 2017 15inch Macbook Pro, with 16gigs of RAM, 1TB M.2 SSD, i7 and some ADM video card is slower than my 2018 Lenovo T-580 16gigs of RAM, 1TB M.2, i5, Intel GPU.

      The T-580 boots from a cold start faster, applications load faster. Not by a huge margin, but it is a much snappier feel.

  7. mdrapps

    Hold on a sec!!! I like tray icons, they are small and simple to provide a great way to check app status. I like explorer add-ins, they provide 1-click simply way to handle files. Background tasks, like file watchers, are used by many productivity apps. All the great apps I know use all those features. I'm trading great apps for battery life?

  8. Dan1986ist

    Doesn't the Files app that Microsoft showed in Windows 10X look exactly the UWP that one can find in Windows 10?

  9. VancouverNinja

    If we can now run any Windows software on a Windows 10x device then Microsoft has a massive win going forward. Neo is starting to sound like an awesome solution.

  10. wbtmid

    The more the more information that is published about Windows 10X, the less sense it makes to me! I am NOT a developer! But as a user, this product seems to be a particularly dumb product! Wow, it can support a device with two screens?! The computer I am writing this on has THREE screens and would support a forth if I had desk space and a need for it! I know it is ot a laptop, but I have had had two screens connected to a laptop. What is so special about with a single device with two screens attached?

    I get quicker updates, but the trade off is a gimped operating system??

    I understand containers for security, but will these Windows 10X devices have the processing power (and power budget) to run the processes quickly enough for the device to be actually be useful in real life? I think not. Nor will this device likely to be cheap either!

    I am a real skeptic!

    • igor engelen

      In reply to wbtmid:did it occur to you that maybe they mean the OS has the capability to natively support dual screen functionality for apps? Like you open app A and on the left screen you get an overview and if needed you can get details on the right screen.
      From all the programs I've used up until this very day, none can do that. Not on my 2 screen setup and certainly not on your 3 screen setup.

      • skolvikings

        In reply to Igor Engelen:

        Actually, lots of apps have undockable windows that can be positioned wherever. So not sure what you're referring to.

        • darkgrayknight

          In reply to Skolvikings:

          I think the point is more that the app can be aware of the two screens, where as currently this is not directly the case with multiple windows. I can dock visual studio windows and span screens, but it is unaware of being spread across multiple screens.

        • igor engelen

          In reply to Skolvikings:I might be completely wrong but when I read about support for 2 screens I think about applications that intelligently handle this themselves. eg. You open your email app and by default you have a list view on the left screen. If your happy scrolling through the list nothing happens. If you open an email however the app automatically puts the full email on the 2nd screen.
          Or more futuristic, a photoshop that can run on 1 screen like now but when you get a second screen maximizes the picture on the main screen and puts a variety of tools on the 2nd screen based on what's going on on the main screen.

    • starkover

      In reply to wbtmid:

      Actually, the least interesting thing about 10X is dual screens. That is interesting, but the architecture is more interesting.

      • Paul Thurrott

        I wrote exactly that here:
  11. tonchek

    Slowly but surely... There is only one way for Windows...

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to tonchek:

      Maybe, but the same was said about Windows 8 7+ years ago. If MSFT leads but no one else follows, MSFT will return to where their users choose to be. Especially so if MSFT's enterprise customers say NO WAY IN HELL to 10X.

  12. 7ajefmz

    Windows 10X development tools ...

    AMD processors are not supported at this time. Nested virtualization is required to run Windows 10X in the emulator and Windows does not yet support this on AMD processors. Stay tuned!

    *sigh* :(

  13. christian.hvid

    Me: So what's the developer story for Windows 10X apps? Is it UWP, PWA, React Native or Xamarin?

    Microsoft: Yes.

    • longhorn

      In reply to christian.hvid:
      Me: So what's the developer story for Windows 10X apps? Is it UWP, PWA, React Native or Xamarin?

      If you watch the video it seems only UWP container is native. Everything else runs in Win32 container with its own kernel etc. If Windows 10X is your only target, then UWP is the way to go.

      What worries me is the simplified shell without system tray support, but on the other hand Windows 10X isn't intended for desktops. Maybe it will make sense on iPad-like devices with or without dual screen.

      The architecture seems pretty smart on paper. But will it be able to reach mainstream and compete with iPads and Windows 10 x64 on laptops? It could be a Chromebook killer though.

      • Paul Thurrott

        It's all of those things. It's exactly the same as the Windows 10 developer story: Choose your environment, language, framework, whatever and do what you want.
    • Paul Thurrott

      Yes, it is all of those. Just like "normal" Windows 10. We're not really confused by this, are we?
  14. bnyklue

    If 10X is as great as everyone says, why is Microsoft only selling it on expensive dual-screen devices? That strategy makes zero sense.

    • slbailey1

      In reply to bnyklue:
      10X will be on OEM devices also. These devices are usually cheaper than Surface devices. Dell, Lenovo, and HP have dual screen/foldable devices in the works. Some will be shipped with Windows 10 pro (Lenovo) and when 10X is ready be updated to 10X.

      Also, Microsoft may want to launch 10X on a "niche" device to work out the bugs before selling all device types with 10X.

    • Paul Thurrott

      It's new. They need to get it broadly tested and improved before moving it to more mainstream form factors.
    • glenn8878

      In reply to bnyklue:

      I wonder if running it on a slow system is just not feasible. This isn't about an entry level system. It's about a new Windows paradigm. In any case, it sounds like a crippled system with no startup and background tasks and a simplified Win32 shell. I wonder how much more compromises will be expected before people give up on it. These changes should occur hand-in-hand with regular Windows development or people just won't understand. I don't understand.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to bnyklue:

      You have to start somewhere. Let them get it out the door and then maybe they will adapt it to work on other types of devices.

  15. netwrkr

    It's interesting what people have taken away from this article. This is an experiment to begin with but mostly a specific version of windows for a device that has yet to be delivered. Microsoft has several other versions of windows for targeted applications (Windows PE, Windows 10S, etc.) I believe that they stated in the article that some of the features being developed would actually end up in Windows. The idea is to make Windows 10 a service based OS regardless of the device it's running on. I think what they are doing sounds interesting. My question is why do we need a screen that folds??