Windows 10X leak reveals another attempt at taking on Chrome OS

Microsoft still wants to make a simplified version of Windows.

Paul Thurott

Windows 10X was supposed to be Microsoft’s dual-screen OS, powering devices from a slew of major manufacturers. But that plan changed last year when the company revealed it was going to be focusing on single screen devices. You know, normal laptops and tablets. So what is Windows 10X really going to be now? Apparently, a lot like Microsoft’s take on Google’s Chrome OS, according to Paul Thurott, who’s been testing a leaked version of the OS.

Early Windows 10X screens show a dramatically streamlined version of Windows 10, with a simple setup experience, a clean desktop with centered taskbar icons, and a Start menu that fills the entire screen. Every app runs in full screen, and it appears as if you can only install software from the Microsoft Store. Windows 10X basically looks a lot like the ill-fated Windows 10S. Microsoft eventually transitioned that into a mode within Windows 10, rather than a standalone OS.

According to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, Windows 10X will likely only work with Intel systems from third-party companies. Eventually though, it could support ARM chips and appear on future Surface devices. The lack of traditional Win32 app support could be a huge downside, but Foley claims that could be mitigated with an upcoming Azure Cloud PC service, which could let you run normal Windows software virtually.