What’s Windows 10X? Here’s the best answer.

Are you still wondering what's Windows 10X? Here's the best answer, and the details you need to know about the OS for dual-screen devices.

Windows 10X interface (image source Microsoft)
Windows 10X interface (image source Microsoft)

What’s Windows 10X? It’s a new variant of Windows 10 designed specifically for dual-screen as well as foldable devices (such as Surface Neo). Windows 10X is not a new version to upgrade your desktop computer. Instead, Microsoft describes it as another eXpression of Windows 10, and that’s the reason for the “X” in the name. Windows 10X is the official name for the project, which was previously known as Windows Lite (Santorini).

Similar to the version of the operating system for desktops and laptops, Xbox One, Surface Hub, and HoloLens, Windows 10X runs on the common set of share technologies internally known as “OneCore.”

OneCore is the technology that makes Windows 10 a completely modular operating system allowing an adaptive interface — known as Composable Shell (CShell) — and familiar experiences to run across different device form factors.

Unlike the Windows 10 that you already know, Windows 10X doesn’t include any of the legacy components. Instead, this variant features only modern components designed for a lightweight experience and more consistent and streamlined experience. The operating system will continue to support legacy desktop programs (Win32), but using a container technology isolated from the main system to preserves battery life and prevent legacy problems.

Of course, with this new expression, you can also run Microsoft Store apps, including web apps and Universal Windows Platform apps.

Windows 10X interface

Although Windows 10X will preserve a familiar user interface that will partially require no learning curve, the new variant will introduce a number of new elements, including a new Start menu that ditches Live Tiles in favor of traditional icons with a search box at the top, and a taskbar that features a Start button at the center, rather than on the left side.

Windows 10X desktop interface (image source Microsoft)
Windows 10X desktop interface (image source Microsoft)

Windows 10X will also introduce the WonderBar, which is a better take of the Mac Touch Bar, that gives you a quick access to emojis, gif, and other shortcuts. And it’ll provide a new feature allowing an app to split on two displays.

Windows 10X faster updates

Also, Windows 10X is a read-only operating system, which means you’ll be able to download updates and switch to the new version on reboot making upgrade a lot faster. Microsoft estimates around 90 seconds to install major feature updates.

Windows 10X devices

Initially, Windows 10X will be available on a select number of Intel-based devices, including Surface Neo, the new dual-screen tablet announced during the October 2019 event in New York City, and on devices from other partners, including Lenovo, ASUS, Dell, and HP.

Just to be clear, Surface Pro X doesn’t run Windows 10X. Instead, it runs the full-blown desktop version of Windows 10 optimized for ARM-based devices. Also, Surface Duo, which is a smaller version of Surface Neo, will run a custom version of Android, not Windows 10X.

In addition, even though Windows 10X is meant for a new wave of form factor devices, it’s likely that this operating system will eventually come to all devices. 

Windows 10X release date

While Windows 10X won’t be a version of the operating system that you’ll be able to purchase, devices with this variant are expected to start shipping in holiday 2020. Microsoft is offering a glimpse now to get developers involve to build apps that will work with the new variant.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me. Email him at [email protected].