Microsoft Confirms Desktop Apps on Windows 10X

Posted on November 22, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10, Windows 10X with 22 Comments

As we previously reported, Windows 10X will come to normal PC form factors, and it will run desktop applications in containers. A Microsoft leak previously confirmed the former claim. And now the firm has confirmed the latter.

“The Azure Core OS Kernel team is seeking an experienced development lead to manage the Containers team,” a Microsoft job posting on LinkedIn reads. ”The Containers team collaborates with teammates throughout Windows to design, develop, and enable new scenarios that leverage containers for improved security, isolation and compatibility.  These technologies form the basis for Store-delivered Win32 applications, Windows Server Containers, Windows Defender Application Guard, Windows Sandbox, and Win32 application support for Windows 10X on dual-screen devices like Surface Neo.”

The job posting was first “uncovered” by Windows Latest.

As you may recall, Microsoft finally unveiled Windows 10X, previously codenamed Windows Lite and Lite OS, at its October hardware event. At the time, it stated that this new Windows 10 product edition was aimed solely at a coming generation of dual-screen devices. But we had previously reported that this was not the case, and that Windows 10X was really seen internally as yet another potential future direction for mainstream Windows, one that would run on normal PC form factors.

We also reported that Windows 10X would be a stripped-down version of Windows 10, with a new Chrome OS-like user experience, that would suppress many legacy technologies by default thanks to Microsoft’s ongoing componentization (really modularization) efforts. And that it would load the legacy Win32 technologies needed by traditional desktop applications on-demand, and would run those applications in containers to protect the OS from malicious or poorly-written code. This will cause a performance impact, of course, but it should offer full backward compatibility as well.

It’s still not clear what container technology Microsoft will use to attain this goal, but when the software giant announced Windows Sandbox, I wrote that it was “a big step towards doing exactly what I’ve been calling on the company to do for years: Figure out a way to isolate, or contain, legacy desktop applications from the system in a way that doesn’t require a complex and manual Desktop Bridge conversion process.”

But Sandbox is just a first step: It fires up an entire Windows 10 environment virtually, which seems like overkill just to run a single app. So my guess is that some combination of Windows Server Containers and a future Sandbox revision will enable this technology to work with individual applications instead.

It’s always nice to get confirmation. Now we just need to know the details.

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Microsoft Confirms Desktop Apps on Windows 10X”

  1. Chris_Kez

    There's something weird about this photograph which makes the upper screen seem much larger than the lower screen.

    • snow.steve22

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      This shot was taken to mimic a laptop and so the lower screen is seen from an extreme angle which compresses the actual dimension. The other views included with it showed both screens and their true sizes.

  2. chrisrut

    I concur wholeheartedly that "modularization" as contrasted with "monolithic" design is key here. Note that once nailed down, modularization also invites implementation in hardware versus software, which we can reasonably expect to see in future systems.

    Flexibility (i.e. doing everything in software) is key when you DON'T know what a system needs to do. But as the functional elements of a task become better understood, and modularized, various pieces can and will be implemented in hardware, with attendant increases in security and performance. We see this in chip sets all the time. Neural networks allow programmability, but even that most highly programmable system - the human brain - incorporates modular structures that support various I/O and processing functionality.

    As an interesting example: studies have show that learning Morse Code actually causes rewiring between certain centers in the brain. Suggests that external programming changes connection paths, while utilizing existing modularized functional centers. The more modular the design, the more adaptable the design.

    In human terms, such adaptations amount to "non genetic adaptions" (NGAs) which is how Evolution expresses itself once "intelligence" takes over. While natural selection could handle the problems over countless generations, we don't bother to grow taller to reach high-lying fruit: we make ladders.

    • eric_rasmussen

      In reply to chrisrut:

      I've not heard of NGA's before, it's pretty interesting. I think I've adapted to no longer feel pain when Microsoft punches me in the face with a broken update. :)

      Very cool, and agreed about the benefits of modularization. The only drawback to modularization is the increased overhead for inter-module communication.

  3. kb923689

    They're still trying, huh? Give up already. Give us a new Windows 7 with modern UI.

  4. youwerewarned

    No one on staff to manage next big thing? Wuz up with that?

  5. Slvrgun

    Only 4 letters away from being Windows 10 LinuX

  6. dxtremebob

    In the Amateur Radio world, it is necessary to run multiple Win32 applications concurrently to perform a variety of communication tasks. It will be interesting to see whether Win32 applications can communicate between containers and whether more than one Win32 application can be run within a single container.

  7. mikes_infl

    I wonder if Win10X might eventually be called Windows 10 for Home? Or maybe Windows 10 for SOHO? Or maybe...

    I thought Microsoft was going to cut BACK on the number of different versions/sku's/etc of Windows?

    Kinda reminds me of when my wife used tell me she was cutting down on the number of horses we'd own. She meant the number of different breeds - we still kept getting more mouths to feed.

  8. bluvg

    "It fires up an entire Windows 10 environment virtually"

    This is perhaps misleading. These are not "Windows 10 VMs" in the traditional sense--a lot is shared with the host, rather than duplicating binaries in a .vhdx, each consuming their own memory.

  9. ngc224

    I seriously doubt there will ever be something called “Windows 10X.”

  10. crp0908

    I have worked closely with Windows since version 3.1. I don't understand the recent angst against "win32 legacy" or how it would interfere or "slow things down." We used Windows to remain productive and get things done thanks to win32 apps. The win32 ecosystem is mature and robust and is second to none in terms of productivity and capabilities. Running win32 apps in containers is going to slow things down.

    I can understand some might not like win32 and think it is 'dated' or vulnerable. There are many other alternatives out there that those folks could use instead. From an enterprise point of view, I'm a bit worried about the directions Windows has been heading as of recent.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to crp0908:

      I suspect a significant number of business users are not doing cpu intensive tasks and won’t notice the slowdown. Those that do cpu intensive tasks now have multiple and faster core option thanks to AMD’s Ryzen 3 series. And cpus of the future should get faster and cheaper over time.

    • Shehzad Joss Yousaf

      In reply to crp0908:

      Good points, hopefully this is geared towards consumers that might be tempted by Chromebooks / mainly consumption focussed. Any loss of performance for business will be hard to accept, it could have serious impact.

  11. warren

    Someone in the Premium comments stated that Windows Sandbox is still in Insider testing.

    This is incorrect. Windows Sandbox shipped with 1903.

  12. harmjr

    So is the sandbox announced last year even available? Well for PRO or Home W10 users?

  13. Dan1986ist

    Wonder what the memory and disk storage requirements is going to be recommended for Window 10 X, when it comes to running multiple Win32 desktop apps in containers along with Win32 technologies to run those apps? With Windows Sandbox as it is now, I think 4 GB of RAM and up is required.

    • christian.hvid

      In reply to Dan1986ist:

      Containerization shouldn't add any extra disk storage requirement, and - since it's not virtual machines we're talking about - the RAM overhead shouldn't be much of a problem either. In addition, W10X will (I think) only ship with new devices, and the overwhelming majority of PCs will ship with 8 GB or more next year.

  14. kshsystems

    i hope this is a first positive step, towards a future where all the win32 legacy doesn't have to interfere or slow things down.


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