Windows 10X Delayed to 2021, Loses Win32 Support

Posted on July 20, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10X with 122 Comments

Citing multiple sources, Mary Jo Foley reports that Microsoft has delayed Windows 10X to Spring 2021 and won’t rollout a dual-screen version until 2022. (Update: Zac Bowden was the first to report this apparently, but Mary Jo independently confirmed it.)

As Foley notes, Windows 10X is not a new operating system. Instead, it is a more modular hybrid of what Microsoft now calls Windows 10 desktop, one that will offer a simpler user experience and a new container-based model for backward compatibility.

While Windows 10X was originally designed for familiar form factors like laptops and tablets, Microsoft in 2019 decided to push its use in more interesting dual-screen form factors in a bid to further differentiate it from Windows 10 desktop. But those plans hinged on too many moving parts, and with the core of Windows 10X both untested and unready, the firm decided to delay its release and focus on single-screen PCs earlier this year.

Foley’s report is the first update we’ve gotten since Microsoft announced the delay and refocus. She says that the latest plan is to deliver Windows 10X with new single-screen devices in early 2021 and that this first release will not include the Win32 container technology that provides backward compatibility with legacy desktop applications. Instead, this system will operate much like Windows 10 in S mode and will run Store and web apps only.

With this change, Win32 app support is now delayed to 2022 at the earliest. That year, Microsoft also expects to ship Windows 10X on new dual-screen PCs.

Even better, Foley has heard that Microsoft may be stepping back from the feature update cliff and will shift from the current twice-per-year schedule to a once-per-year schedule in 2021 so that it can put more engineering staff on Windows 10X.

“If that’s accurate, this would mean Microsoft will deliver Windows 10X releases in H1/spring seasons and new Windows 10 feature updates in H2/fall, moving forward,” she writes. “As I’ve reported previously, Microsoft is expected to bring some features it is building for Windows 10X, such as UX elements and possibly containerization and security technologies, over to regular Windows 10.”

Of course, Microsoft really moved to a once-per-year schedule last year since the H2 releases in 2019 and 2020 are/were both just cumulative updates with few or no new features. That Microsoft calls them feature updates is, of course, just semantics.

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