Microsoft Reportedly Changes Windows 10X Plans, Won’t Launch Surface Neo This Year

Posted on April 9, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows, Windows 10, Windows 10X with 34 Comments

Microsoft has reportedly made major changes to its strategy for Windows 10X this week. The company informed employees of the new change in strategy internally yesterday, and it affects the upcoming Surface Neo, too.

Mary Jo Foley first reported that Microsoft is now changing its focus for Windows 10X from dual-screen, foldable devices to single-screen devices. That also means the company’s Windows 10X device, the Surface Neo, may no longer be launched on Holiday 2020 as originally promised.

The news comes just weeks after Surface lead Panos Panay took charge of the Windows team at Microsoft. The company’s new strategy focuses on bringing Windows 10X to existing single-screen devices first, while Microsoft continues to work on virtualization features to get classic Win32 apps to work better on Windows 10X. “Officials didn’t discuss how well/badly Win32 apps worked when virtualized on 10X, but the inside word was the team had a long way to go to make this something “normal” users would understand and accept, as compatibility levels were not great,” said Mary Jo Foley.

The change in plans means Microsoft’s dual-screen Windows 10X device, the Surface Neo, is no longer set for a 2020 launch. The company’s Android-powered dual-screen phone, the Surface Duo, is still apparently planned for later this year. Microsoft also won’t allow its partners to release dual-screen Windows 10X devices this year.

With Microsoft now focusing on single-screen devices, it’s possible we could get a preview of Windows 10X for existing devices soon. Brad Sams reports that the company is planning to release preview builds of Windows 10X, possibly at its Build conference, in May.

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Comments (34)

34 responses to “Microsoft Reportedly Changes Windows 10X Plans, Won’t Launch Surface Neo This Year”

  1. digiguy

    Wise decision. Given how much people have criticized MS for the compatibility issues with the Surface pro X it's better that people learn to wait and complain less...

  2. dcdevito

    I always liked the idea of this device, but let's be honest, the iPad has become the defect corporate tablet. This thing has quite an uphill battle it faces when it DOES launch.

  3. steam960

    Well, we need something to carry the power of Windows on a handheld, for sure, and it would be great if it had mobile phone capabilities. Handling my business consulting company on an android or apple device is currently unacceptable; I want my pc desktop/laptop in my hand.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to steam960:

      You and a gazillion more people as well. Since a Windows PC is what much of the world works on, not having a seamless experience with a Windows PC is just stupidity and unabashed arrogance forced upon us.

      I recently learned just how insanely messed up development houses are in this current "mobile first" environment. While you can sit down and use the Instagram app on a Windows PC the only way to really post any content, with the full feature set, is to revert to a darn cellphone and get it done from there. Why would Facebook not allow full editing/posting from a proper device??? It is ridiculous to walk by a content creator and see them hunched over their desk using their phone all day log rather than their PC. Yes, in this case you can get a subscription from a Hootsuite or Sprout Social but why should you have to do that?

      • waethorn

        In reply to VancouverNinja:

        The technology doesn't exist because this represents a minority of the user-base. Consumers use their Android and iOS stuff exactly because it DOES give them a good mobile experience -- on ARM. Windows software (all of it) is built for x86, and Intel can't/won't build mobile chips with CISC architecture in a TDP that matches ARM because they want to sell higher-priced, higher-margin chips (this is why they stopped making Atom and Spark). AMD doesn't care to either because their current Ryzen chips are getting them big OEM wins on mainstream PC's and of course, they own the game console market now. Most consumers don't give a shit about running x86 Windows apps on mobile because the ones they're forced to use on their computer are productivity apps for mouse and keyboard and don't translate down well to tiny-screen finger input, and even so, Windows and its software ecosystem doesn't run well on low-end x86 hardware. Apple seems to get that, what with pushing the idea of getting pro apps on iPadOS even though the ARM processor that they have in it can't compete with a multicore Ryzen or Core iX processor, albeit Apple's ARM designs are still at the top of their class and developers are able to optimize their software very well, all things considered.

        • VancouverNinja

          In reply to Waethorn:

          The issue is not the hardware. The main issue lies with development houses. An example of this is Snapchat or Instagram that ignores completely, or fully, supporting desktop PCs in pursuit of active mobile users and usage time on their mobile device apps - this comes at the expense of the users by forcing use of mobile devices in scenarios that make no sense.

          At the other end of the spectrum you have a service like Spotify that fully supports Windows PCs with vastly superior features than you could expect on a mobile device. I have a massive music library and doing anything on the Spotify mobile app to manage my library is not reasonable, but the Windows version is perfect for getting it done.

          Those two examples above are the same issue. To me it feels that proper business management left the building in the mid to late 2000's and we have broken solutions that people are not happy with and have no choice but to work with what they are being sold - what else can they do?

          So, it comes down to companies like Microsoft to try and pull it together and that's what we are watching unfold, especially with them embracing Android to get us better solutions.

          • waethorn

            In reply to VancouverNinja:

            In general, most people use their phones for stupid social network applications. They're designed to track users' location, data, habits, and contacts, and mobile platforms give them that spy platform.

            • VancouverNinja

              In reply to Waethorn:

              You are correct, and one of the reasons I say respectable business management has left the building, but out of hundreds of millions of Windows PC users there are most likely millions of users that need, or would like, tighter integration and support between their devices.

              The following article backs up what I was mentioning, in the prior reply, it is coming down to Microsoft to help users get a proper integrated device ecosystem in place for Windows PCs. Once Microsoft launches these capabilities other developers and device manufacturers will fall in line. If not, they can let Microsoft and their willing partners start to eat up their market share.


    • shameermulji

      In reply to steam960:

      MS tried that before the iPhone came along with Windows Mobile. It bombed miserably. The Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones have great integration with Windows 10 via the Your Phone app and MS' cloud services. Android & iOS have won the smartphone wars. Just like MS won the desktop wars.

  4. shameermulji

    What are the chances that dual-screen Win10X devices get scrapped permanently? Seems like a strong possiblity.

  5. sharpsone

    I'm okay with the delay and push to fix and release on single screen devices. I'm personally waiting for the Duo and the great mobility based ideas MS has for Android all baked into a MS device with access to the Playstore apps. This launch could give MS the inroads it needs to bridge gap between mobile, desktop and swing users to 10x along the way. The NEO is still a neat device I hope it launches, I want a good production based device that's not a standard phone or large tablet...Duo should fill that need.

  6. alsorun

    To focus on traditional single screen is the right decision as it reduces complexity. The key is to get a preview version out. Fans will not be as upset if they have something to play with and something to occupy their time.

  7. irfaanwahid

    As much I want Neo and Duo to release like yesterday but with current circumstances, they have taken the right decision.

    Also, it should not happen due to the pandemic people don't end up buying and the market don't get the true potential of the device if the v1 does not succeed based on factors not in its control.

  8. StevenLayton

    Obi-Wan: I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if dozens of voices suddenly cried out in disappointment and then voiced their frustration on Twitter.

  9. UK User

    Are the shutters starting to come down on Windows 10 as is? (pun intended)

  10. spoonman

    Well crap. I hope they don't can Neo completely. But of course this is better than releasing something that doesn't work as it's meant to.

  11. harmjr

    So now we get to the guessing game... Is it because of:

    1. Hardware issue
    2. Hardware manufacturing problem/slowness
    3. Windows 10X issue
    4. Dont want to release until 10X is ready
    5. Satya Nadella about to Surface Mini this thing.

  12. waethorn

    Are they trying to isolate all Win32 applications individually? That sounds like a nightmare and a performance hog for the system to isolate applications when a user installs them. They should probably just isolate the "classic Win32" stuff into a single legacy-mode container. Windows Store stuff is already in individual AppX containers.

    This is how Fedora Silverblue works: all apps in the store are in independent Flatpaks. A user can create a separate container for any legacy RPM packages through toolbox/podman though (or multiple containers, but that's beyond the necessity of mainstream Windows users). They can use all the regular Fedora Workstation tools inside a podman container, including dnf. An installed application on Silverblue works more-or-less the same to the user (aside from the odd cosmetic issue with desktop themes not being presented through a Flatpak runtime) as any application on Fedora Workstation. The bare-metal OS image itself is write-protected, only getting delta updates that rebase a new image that requires a reboot to update.

    The only thing Microsoft needs to do differently is to set up that legacy container for mainstream users ahead of time. This would make it entirely easy to manage, and fits with their existing "Reset PC" option, in which all it really needs to do is just wipe out that single legacy-mode container, not containers for each and every application. Just FYI: Google does this for you when you enable Linux support on Chrome OS - a VM ("termina") with a separate Linux kernel from the one used in Chrome OS is set up, and on top of that, a Linux userspace LXC/LXD container image. These containers are provided by and can be changed to another Linux distro if you prefer their toolset and repo instead. The kernel is always provided by Google AFAIK though, so it won't be updated as frequently as your favourite distro would, but it's enough to run the userspace container on your Chrome hardware. Bottom line, when you enable Linux support in Chrome OS, this work is done for you. You just use the installed terminal app and Debian commands to install software. On Windows, a Win32 container could be set up in a similar way, but ahead of time - fully automated, and when a user is using the Win32 namespace, applications install within that container. If they're getting performance issues with it, they're probably doing something extreme to isolate Win32, like creating a secondary kernel layer space or using a traditional full-fat VM with emulated hardware. This is also an issue with Google's Linux support because the baremetal kernel can be different from the one in the termina VM. Hardware support isn't complete, so things like peripheral connections and video acceleration in Linux/CrOS just aren't present, but also because they're using a pretty lightweight kernel right now. It's also still in beta. If Microsoft figures that Win32 has to be isolated so much from baremetal to get things like good battery life and fast resume on low-end tablet-like hardware and such, then that's a problem with Windows Core that just won't easily go away.

    • F4IL

      In reply to Waethorn: Are they trying to isolate all Win32 applications individually?

      They have a single Win32 container which contains your installed "classic" apps. As a result, those apps are isolated from the host OS but not among themselves; which is usually fine.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Waethorn:

      It is a single win32 container . All modern apps will run in their own container.

      • waethorn

        In reply to wright_is:

        They probably include some kind of process isolation then, meaning it likely has some kind of lower-level Win32-compatible kernel space added on top of a mobile, battery-friendly, stripped-down version of NT. Silverblue doesn't show any kind of additional latency using legacy RPM app packages in its podman container, but it doesn't duplicate the underlying bare-metal kernel either - it uses the kernel from the host install. I guess this shows you how Windows NT is still not a good kernel to use on mobile devices.

      • red77star

        In reply to wright_is:

        It is dead on arrival. Whole UWP thing turned out to be one big joke. it is such a joke that 99.9% of people running Windows 10, regularly run a powershell script to remove them all.

    • red77star

      In reply to Waethorn:

      They are creating a problem where there is no problem. They don't need to isolate Win32 at all. If someone has battery problem, go buy AMD Ryzen 4000 for laptop, problem get the point.

       If Microsoft figures that Win32 has to be isolated so much from baremetal to get things like good battery life and fast resume on low-end tablet-like hardware and such, then that's a problem with Windows Core that just won't easily go away.

      That ship sailed away. We don't need Windows on Tablet. Microsoft should create OS for Tablet and Phones and do not call it Windows because the concept of Windows cannot be applied to such devices, and problem solved.

      • waethorn

        In reply to red77star:

        We don't need Windows on Tablet

        I'm sure there's a number of Surface Pro and Surface Book owners that would tell you otherwise. And a Ryzen 4000 won't run in something like that either.

      • shameermulji

        In reply to red77star:

        "Microsoft should create OS for Tablet and Phones and do not call it Windows because the concept of Windows cannot be applied to such devices, and problem solved."

        That should have been done years ago. Might be too little, too late for that.

  13. waethorn

    In reply to red77star:

    You're wrong, of course.