Microsoft Confirms 10X Death, Will Bring Some Features to Windows 10

Posted on May 18, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10, Windows 10X with 64 Comments

Microsoft today confirmed the death of Windows 10X and said that it is bringing key 10X features to mainstream Windows 10 instead.

“Following a year-long exploration and engaging in conversations with customers, we realized that the technology in Windows 10X could be used in more ways and serve more customers than we originally imagined,” a Microsoft blog post notes. “We concluded that the 10X technology shouldn’t just be confined to a subset of customers.”

That’s an interesting take on “we talked to customers and were told that they do not want Windows 10X.” But more interesting, perhaps, is what happens to the technology that Microsoft has developed for Windows 10X.

“Instead of bringing … Windows 10X to market in 2021 like we originally intended, we are leveraging learnings from our journey thus far and accelerating the integration of key foundational 10X technology into other parts of Windows in Windows Insider preview builds, for example, the new app container technology we’re integrating into products like Microsoft Defender Application Guard, an enhanced Voice Typing experience, and a modernized touch keyboard with optimized key sizing, sounds, colors, and animations. Our teams continue to invest in areas where the 10X technology will help meet our customer needs as well as evaluate technology experiences both in software and hardware that will be useful to our customers.”

This is a stunning mouthful of nonsense. And it’s unclear why Microsoft can’t just tell the truth: Customers, including PC makers, do not want Windows 10X. And the software giant has no plans to bring 10X to market at any time in the future.

Worse, Microsoft hasn’t addressed the single most important 10X feature, its planned ability to run Win32 apps in a container. Is that key work continuing?

One can only guess.

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Comments (64)

64 responses to “Microsoft Confirms 10X Death, Will Bring Some Features to Windows 10”

  1. sherlockholmes

    Oh well, Microsoft. Never admits a failure.

  2. vladimir

    Kudos to Microsoft marketing for how they turned the tables in their favor.

  3. hrlngrv

    MSFT's corporate communications people seem to have mastered semi-random sentence generation. The structured word salad. Is this what happens when Clippy meets AI?

  4. Chefgon

    Windows 10X was a promising idea when they announced it as a dedicated dual-screen tablet OS. It died the moment they decided to ship it on regular laptops instead.

  5. scovious

    I would rather see Windows 10 grow into something better and more efficient, than see it splinter into different operating systems. I wonder if Panos Panay's leadership has driven Microsoft's refocus on Windows rather than fragmenting it, or if it was purely their research and user feedback.

  6. glenn8878

    The problem is the app container technology suggests Microsoft only want it available through the store. No one wants to buy apps through an app store on Windows. The market is dead. Microsoft should push this new container model for all apps development or via installation on Windows. Make it seemless.

  7. sandeepm

    "the truth: Customers, including PC makers, do not want Windows 10X"

    Two lies dont make a truth

    I was hoping that this time around, they would finall fix the MCE remote cursor keys that have stayed broken since Windows 7. No such luck, I guess.

    And seems like their customers don't want a Windows with battery life like Android, without 200+ rubbish background services that kill the battery and dont allow the PC to go to sleep in the night.

    I am pretty sure I am not their customer and want to have nothing to do with their customers.

    They put a B-Team on it and could not make it work, so blame it on customers.

    Couple of days back, the changed the logo for Azure, that is what their customers want.

    • hrlngrv

      | Couple of days back, the changed the logo for Azure, that is what their customers want.

      Slapping lipstick onto pigs, flamingoes, chimpanzees, Clippy is the proverbial low hanging fruit. It's the easiest and cheapest way to present the image of MSFT maintaining relevance.

    • lvthunder

      Of course, their customers want those things. They just don't want the downside of how 10X did those things. What good is an OS of it doesn't run the apps you want to run on it.

  8. darkgrayknight

    Isn't "the new app container technology we’re integrating into products like Microsoft Defender Application Guard" pretty much the same as "ability to run Win32 apps in a container"? Technically, I think the majority of what made 10X a thing will continue on as part of Windows. Windows 10X was basically just another run at WinRT, Windows S Mode, Windows on ARM, etc. I expect we'll still get to see app containerization in future updates to Windows. Also, like you've mentioned Paul, a Windows S Mode with exceptions certainly seems viable and a great compromise with moving Windows forward. If the Win32 app container can be made to work, then some parts of the OS can be lightened up. I think this is good news, as having "another almost Windows but not really" version isn't worth anything at this point.

    • curtisspendlove

      Be nice if they cross-pollinated the Windows container team with the WSL container team.

      They are doing some awesome things with WSL and I’d love to see them rejigger Windows itself to work well when containerizing itself.

    • IanYates82

      Yep. I see the defender bit as enterprise level containerisation, and perhaps that'll flow down to consumers over a few releases.

    • sandeepm

      Win32 apps can already run in containers. But what good is it to run notepad or calculator in a container? Can Excel and it's addins, and Photoshop and it's addins run in containers? Can PowerDVD play UltraHD Bluray in containers?

  9. crunchyfrog

    Maybe the leadership at Microsoft decided it would be too embarrassing if they actually released an OS that was more stable, ran smoother, was easier to manage and took up a fraction of the space Windows 10 does.

  10. jgraebner

    I'm betting that the true core of all this is that they never were able to get the containerization of Win32 applications to work with acceptable performance and/or reliability. That was really the only significantly important part of 10X. Everything else seemed to be window-dressing.

  11. JH_Radio

    I wonder if anyone at Microsoft reads pauls sites a or things from say Digital Trends or etc. hmmm.

  12. GT Tecolotecreek

    I think ultimately costs may have more to do about this decision than anything else. Show me the money for 10X. PC makers aren't very interested, and does MS really want to be developing and supporting two OS platforms long term? They have enough issues trying to maintain one. Especially considering the current long term strategic direction is cloud.

  13. rmlounsbury

    I think, like Paul has noted in other musings, that it does make more sense to have a single Windows platform that you can toggle on/off the bits you want or do want. It should be able to flow to the device your on an the state that device is in (tent, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc...).

    I was looking forward to the idea of a brand new Windows. But given how much legacy Microsoft has and how little interest it seems anyone has for building new apps for a platform outside of the major platforms today (Windows, macOS, iOS/iPadOS, Android) it seems doubtful Microsoft will ever be able to move off of Windows as their main platform. When that happens, my guess is that mobile operating systems reach a level of maturity that obviates the need for a heavier desktop OS.

  14. brettscoast

    Unwanted and unloved Windows X disappears into the ether. Disingenuous post from Microsoft really.

  15. curtisspendlove

    I see you’re trying to write a product sunset post…

    would you like me to write it for you?

    • Paul Thurrott

      Microsoft seems incapable of clarity and, hate to say it, honesty. Certainly from the Windows team these days, anyway.
  16. spacein_vader

    Microsofts latest attempt to make win32 legacy in practice (rather than just in name,) fails.

    The issue is, without win32 support, why run Windows at all?

  17. javial

    Paul, remember you think Windows 10X as the new NT. The thruth is that Windows 95 and NT Technology they were much more powerful platforms, with much higher performance and speed, and a lot more features than their predecessors.

    Talking about Windows 10X is talking about containerization, emulation, UWP, etc. technologies that are limited, less powerful, with much less and worst performance and speed and a lot of less features and personalization than the actual Win32 technology in Windows. And this is not what users want, seek or need. Never want a limited and less powerful and slowly platform like UWP or an emulated platform compared to executing native powerful Win32 applications.

    It was clear, as he says in a previous comment in another post, that Windows 10X would never become the new NT and that it would never come to fruition.


    When Win32 dies, Windows will die with it. All of Microsoft's efforts to destroy, remove, and get rid of Win32 are efforts to destroy, remove, and get rid of Windows. Windows without Win32 doesn't make any sense.

  18. ben55124

    They should have called it Windows LLJ (leveraged learnings journey)

  19. nine54

    Windows 10X seems more and more like a product Microsoft wanted even though the audience or market for it was unclear. What seems clear is that the customers and OEM partners that want Windows, want real Windows--not some handicapped or limited look-alike.

    However, what about the customers and OEM partners that don't want Windows or, rather, want Chrome OS? The advantages of Chrome OS are the disadvantages of Windows and vice versa. So, what can Microsoft sell to these customers? Something with the advantages of Chrome OS won't have the advantages of Windows, which begs the question, why wouldn't customers just buy the more mature product with a more robust ecosystem, which in this case, would be Chrome OS?

    That is Microsoft's challenge.

    • anoldamigauser

      I think this sums it up well. While I would be happy with a Chromebook without the Google, most people are not worried about it, and why would the OEMs want to put out yet another SKU, with the costs that incurs, for a Chromebook from Microsoft that would probably sell in limited numbers? Why would Microsoft want to create a product that it will have to support for 10 years if it is not going to sell in quantity?

      The failure of Microsoft to find success in the mobile space, whether with Windows Phone, or Windows RT for tablets, means they will always be outsiders in these markets. I think this decision falls into the same category as cancelling the Surface Mini, just a business decision to cut loss.

  20. vernonlvincent

    I see Panos making the call on this. Instead of having multiple OS versions - have one that incorporates the benefits of Windows 10X. Which works in Microsoft's favor as it doesn't make Windows 10X function differently from Windows 10 Normal.

    While I was looking forward to Win10X - if they pass along the benefits to regular Win10, then I see this as a good thing.

  21. stassi801

    " . . . sounds, colors, and animations." Old Clippy is making a return?

  22. Shel Dyck

    Beta level insiders get to test 21H2 soon?

  23. peterc

    Well I was hanging on waiting for a modern light OS from MS for quite some time now, but It’s not coming.

    Looks like Chrome OS and iPad OS have a clear shot at dominating the consumer market now, it just depends whether your an android or iOS mobile user I guess. Personally I’ll wait to see what apple feature on the new iPad OS for the M1 iPad Pro … which will likely replace my surface pro 7.

    I’ll keep my gaming PC for legacy stuff, but that’s it.. time to switch and move on.

    • ebraiter

      Hahaha. Chromebrick OS.....

    • curtisspendlove

      Personally I’ll wait to see what apple feature on the new iPad OS for the M1 iPad Pro … which will likely replace my surface pro 7.

      I’m just waiting for Apple to reverse a few App Store policies and toss a containerization layer on iPadOS.

      If I could run Docker it would pretty much solve most of my current coding productivity issues on “modern” OSs.

      • bkkcanuck

        Well, the M1 now supports virtualization... Give me the same shell and utilities as I have on macOS and that would be wonderful... I would not be surprised if they decided on the M1 over the A14X/A15X because of the addition of virtualization etc.

  24. lvthunder

    My guess is the container work will continue. That is something that they could use in the cloud even if it never comes to the desktop version of Windows.

    • remc86007

      I admittedly know nothing about programming and software engineering, but I fail to see why the entire Windows environment couldn't eventually be containerized. Perhaps there could be a legacy environment which would load if an application was not compatible with containerization, but for 95% of users using Edge/Chrome, Office, Spotify, etc. why can't Windows run in an extremely stripped down form and run the apps in containers? I imagine many of the design decisions about Windows were based on the reality of the loading speeds and latency of mechanical hard drives which necessitated keeping large amounts of code in RAM at all times to make the experience seamless. Now with NVME, as we are seeing with quick resume on Xbox, entire RAM states can be loaded in seconds. Surely using modern virtualization and NVME storage, Windows can be cut down to a much more efficient form.

      • ringofvoid

        I'm still hopeful that they get to the point where legacy apps can move to a Win32 container. Getting to the point where legacy code can't run on the base OS will be a leap forward for OS security.

        • hrlngrv

          | legacy code can't run on the base OS

          All that'd be needed is a new OS which could run Edge, Hyper-V and whatever software used the new & improved .Net and other ABIs. Make a Windows 8.x or Windows 10 shorn of UWP VM to be run by Hyper-V. Done.

          The questions would be would MSFT try to name this new OS Windows even though it couldn't run Win32 software directly? What else would MSFT add to the new base/host OS? Would it have Powershell but not most of the command-line tools found in C:\Windows\System32? Would it still use driver letters? Would it still default to stuffing everything in a single volume/drive/partition?

      • leonard.smith

        Technically they could, but remember that Windows 10 is almost 3 decades old and is layer upon layer of code 'rot'. This presents a challenge when you want to run it on h/w with limited CPU/RAM capability, aka Chromebook type of devices.

    • bluvg

      I realize "container" is usually associated with a particular tech these days, but they've had App-V/SoftGrid, AppX, MSIX, and probably some other app-virtualization/containerization tech for Windows for a long time. I can't imagine they wouldn't continue?

  25. paulwp187

    Microsoft and Windows 10x announced their divorce saying "We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple". "After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship we realise our technology can be used in more ways and serve more customers than we originally imagined".

  26. thalter

    I read Microsoft Defender Application Guard as being Win32 containerization, which means they are still working on this. Or is this something else?

  27. ngc224

    “This is a stunning mouthful of nonsense. And it’s unclear why Microsoft can’t just tell the truth”

    Exactly! Unfortunately Paul has always known this (NDA).

  28. mike2k

    Tell me you failed without telling me you failed

    • Paul Thurrott

      Or, just tell us you made the right decision for yourself and your customers. This isn't hard to do. It's hard to obscure the truth, really.
  29. jimchamplin

    Windows 10X seems like maybe it was less product and more ruse.

  30. sykeward

    we are leveraging learnings from our journey thus far and accelerating the integration of key foundational 10X technology…”

    I have a pretty high tolerance for corporate buzzwords but this posting borders on insulting. The fact that Microsoft released it during Google I/O says more than the actual blog post does.

    • Paul Thurrott

    • bkkcanuck

      Yep, Probably wanted to get it out of the way before Build began... and a good time to 'let everyone know' is when something is happening that might suppress it from being 'headline tech news'.

  31. navarac

    Reads like another lot of waffle from John Cable. Microsoft's marketing department/person needs to return to school.

  32. ruivo

    It would have just languished, with a couple of false starts, until it met an undignified death, mourned for a few die hard fans. Microsoft just skipped the middle step. I'm actually surprised that they gave any sort of closure at all.