Windows 10X is a new expression of Windows 10 designed primarily for foldable and dual-screen devices (Such as Surface Neo). The operating system is new, but it’s not a complete rewrite. Instead, it’s a new version that uses the Microsoft OneCore, a system that makes the operating system modular allowing a lighter and more consistent experience.
Although Windows 10X isn’t finalized, since the company made available the emulator and documentation for developers, we now have a better understanding of the new system.
1. Start menu
Windows 10X also moves away from the traditional Start menu in favor of a new minimalistic interface that floats above the taskbar with rounded corners, which is similar to the Office hub page online, where you have a search box on the top, more frequently apps and web apps in the middle, and a timeline of your recent files for quick access to your documents at the bottom of the experience.
In addition, the Start menu for Windows 10X, you’ll also notice that Live Tiles are gone in favor of app icons, which you can’t resize, but you will continue to have access to options, such as to uninstall, change settings, and pin to taskbar.
Although it’s not a productivity feature, another interesting change is the new iconography. On Windows 10X, in the taskbar, Start menu, and across the experience, you’ll notice new icons for Start, Task View, and apps.
If they look familiar, it’s because these are part of the new iconography created using the Fluent Design System language that Microsoft has been pushing to its products online and devices, and soon coming to the desktop version of Windows 10 as well.
Starting with Windows 10X, Microsoft is introducing a new taskbar optimized for dual-screen devices.
The new design is a narrow strip at the bottom of the screen with a notch in the middle and a notification area displaying the time, network connection, and action center icon.
As you swipe or press the notch, the taskbar will unveil with icons aligned to the center, instead of the left like in the desktop version of Windows 10. However, if you want to align the Start button and apps to the left, this is a supported option by opening the taskbar context menu and selecting the “Orange” option.
By default, you’ll see the Start and Task View buttons in the taskbar and pinning apps will group separately from running apps.
3. Action Center
Action center has also been redesigned. On Windows 10X, the experience now shows notifications in modules.
The “Quick actions” are now known as “Quick Settings,” and the interface has been redesigned. You’ll notice quick options to change volume and brightness, and the settings are now more useful. For instance, you can no only enable or disable Bluetooth, but you’ll also notice a new option next to the setting to further customize the feature without having to open the Settings app.
At the bottom of the Quick Settings, you’ll also find options to access the Settings app, adjust language options, and perhaps more interesting, in this menu is where you’ll now find the power menu to shutdown or restart the device as well as the option to sign out of the current profile.
4. Dual-screen experiences
Windows 10X is a new experience designed for dual-screen devices, which means that the interface has been optimized to allow apps to expand across multiple displays.
This means that with the new “Expansive Workspaces” feature, apps will understand how to use two screens more intelligently. For instance, if you use the Mail app for Windows 10, the accounts and inbox columns will appear in one screen and the email you selected will open in the second screen, instead of just cutting the app in the middle when trying to use both displays.
The “Focused Screens” feature allows you to work more efficiently with apps. When working with an app designed to take advantage of this feature, you’ll be able to perform a particular task without interruption. An example of this feature would be using an app on one screen and accessing the tools on the other display.
Then there’s the “Connected apps” feature that simply allows you to work with two apps side-by-side on both screens. For example, you can open the Mail app on one screen and the Photos app on the other display, and you can then drag-and-drop an image on a new email.
5. Virtual keyboard
Although Windows 10 already includes a touch keyboard, the virtual keyboard experience available with Windows 10X is much more useful.
When using the device in laptop mode, the touch keyboard will open on the second screen with a virtual touch pad on the top, which transforms into a rich set of input, including emojis and gifs.
Starting with Windows 10X, Microsoft is finally removing all the legacy components from the operating system.
However, traditional desktop programs (win32) will continue to run, but using secure containers, which is a sort of virtualization technology isolated from the main system. As a result, legacy problems will be a thing of the past, apps Registry will be kept in the container and apps will no longer be able to make system changes, and the approach will help with performance and battery life.
This isn’t just for legacy applications, Windows 10X will also have a different isolated container for modern apps and another for web apps.
7. Faster updates and better security
Another best feature of Windows 10X is that for the first time, the operating system will be available as read-only. This is achieved by completely separating the operating system from the apps and drivers. Apps will continue to be able to interact with the operating system, but only by using a clear set of APIs.
As a result, we’re getting a more secure operating system, and this means that updates will happen in the background, and then you’ll only need a simple reboot to switch to the new version. A process that Microsoft claims will take less than 90 seconds.
In addition, because of the new separation, there will be no more need to change the Registry to optimize the operating system. No more need to use Registry cleaners. And Microsoft even claims that the system performance will be sustained, which means that over time, Windows 10X will keep its performance as the first day you bought the device.