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Windows 10X leak shows us Microsoft’s OS in all its glory – but with some apparent disappointments


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Check out a purportedly near-final build of the lightweight OS in this video clip


What’s apparently a near-final build of Windows 10X for single-screen laptops – the initial incarnation the operating system is arriving in – has been leaked, and it’s looking nicely polished on the whole. Although that said, there are some aspects highlighted here (and rumors seemingly proved right) which will doubtless disappoint some…


Zac Bowden over at Windows Central took the pre-release build of the OS for a spin, presenting the results in an 8-minute video which is well worth a watch.


Windows 10X, for the uninitiated, is a stripped-back and lightweight version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system, so as you might expect, the interface is much more minimalist than the Windows 10 we know.


As you can see in Bowden’s video below, the Start menu is now a centred panel (as opposed to being over on the left) and it’s a simplified list of installed apps (and websites), with recently used files and applications listed below, and a web search box on top. Gone are the live tiles and other complications seen in Windows 10, replaced by something more akin to the streamlined launcher system Chromebooks employ.


< Watch the video at the Source Page. >


Similarly, the taskbar icons (for running or pinned apps) are now centred (instead of left-aligned). The system tray over on the right has been cut back to just the barest of info and clock/date, with other icons shifted to a new Quick Settings panel, which nestles beneath the Notifications panel in what is the new Action Center (which also boasts a handy music playback control panel).


The Quick Settings panel, as the name suggests, allows for quick access to commonly used settings, such as Bluetooth devices for example. It also provides some convenient touches like a volume and display brightness slider.


It’s worth noting that there are some neat touches on the animation front with Windows 10X, such as when you click on an app in the taskbar to open it, the icon presses in slightly to acknowledge the click (while you wait for the program to open). This avoids scenarios where you’re not sure whether your click actually registered or not.


Basic Explorer

File Explorer has also been simplified, and is very basic indeed now, just offering a straightforward method of accessing files with no trimmings. Note that OneDrive integration is a big thing here: everything is synced to the cloud, with the only exception being the Downloads folder. Also, you must sign into a Microsoft Account – there’s no getting round that with Windows 10X, with local accounts being ditched. All this could be pain points for some folks, that’s for sure…


Another potential one of those is the fact that apps only run full-screen, which is a reflection of the fact that the initial incarnation of Windows 10X is designed to run on low-cost and low-power single-screen laptops – that will likely change down the line, though. You can still snap two apps together in a side-by-side view, though, so there’s a basic level of multitasking here – but the sort of machines that Windows 10X will be shipped on initially won’t be capable of handling major multitasking anyway.


Furthermore, as is made clear in the video clip, Windows 10X doesn’t support traditional Windows apps (Win32 applications), at least not at launch, meaning you’ll be limited to universal (UWP) and web apps. We’ve heard this before, and the hope is that the functionality to run Win32 apps will be introduced before too long – but possibly not until 2022 going by the rumor mill.


The sweetener is that here, it looks like the implementation of web apps is pretty slick, as Bowden illustrates with Spotify.




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First screenshot and video of Windows 10X for single-screen devices leaked

A first screenshot of Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10X edition of the company's Windows 10 operating system has been posted today on Twitter. The screenshot shows the operating system's taskbar and Start on a single-screen device.


windows 10x interface


Microsoft designed Windows 10X specifically for multi-display devices and foldable devices but the new edition of Windows 10 will also run on single-screen devices.


Zac Bowden published the screenshot on his Twitter account. A hands-on video with Windows 10 for single-screen PCs has been published to the Windows Central account as well.


The screenshot provides a glimpse of the new operating system, and confirms changes to Start and the taskbar.



The video, embedded above, offers more details on Windows 10X running on single-screen devices. It showcases the functionality of the new Start menu and Search, among other things.


The centered Start menu displays a search field at the top, the list of apps and websites installed on the device, and a list of recently accessed files and apps. A click on "show all" displays all installed apps and linked websites; a right-click on an icon displays options to pin it to the taskbar for fast access.

Live tiles are not supported and there is no option to create app folders either.


The taskbar has been redesigned as well; icons are now centered on it and the system tray area displays just the clock and date by default. A new widget opens up when users activate it that display quick settings and notifications, e.g. options to change the volume. All system panels that were displayed directly or behind the arrow-icon in other versions of Windows 10, are now displayed in the new area. Among the options is a new media control option to control the playback of media directly from the area.


Several system applications have changed as well in Windows 10X. The files application uses a basic interface on Windows 10X that resembles the default file explorers of mobile operating systems. Syncing with OneDrive is enabled by default, and a Microsoft Account is required to sign-in to the operating system.


Files, except for those in downloads, seem to be synced automatically with OneDrive if Windows 10X is used.


Another change is that all applications run in fullscreen mode on Windows 10X, and that has been a deliberate choice by Microsoft as the target devices for the first wave of Windows 10X products will be low-cost devices only. It is still possible to run two apps side-by-side, but there is no option to display multiple windows in any other form on the screen.


It is likely that this limitation is going to be removed for other device classes once the operating system becomes available for those.

Closing Words

Windows 10X is a new version of Windows that looks and feels more like a mobile operating system. It is designed for low-cost devices, and veteran users may get a certain Windows RT vibe from the system, especially since Win32 programs will not be supported when the operating system launches. Microsoft plans to introduce options to run Win32 programs in a future version though.


Whether Windows 10X will be more successful than Windows RT remains to be seen, for now, it seems very limited when compared to other Windows 10 editions.



First screenshot and video of Windows 10X for single-screen devices leaked

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Hands on with the leaked Windows 10X build for single-screen PCs

Early build of Windows 10X running on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold

Windows 10X has had a confusing history. First leaked as Windows Lite, it was Microsoft's newest attempt at a Chromebook competitor, following spectacular failures like Windows RT and Windows 10 S. But when Windows 10X was unveiled in October 2019, it was shown as an OS that's built specifically for dual-screen devices. Eventually, those plans were delayed indefinitely and it was back to being a single-screen OS. Panos Panay said that Microsoft wants to meet customers where they are, except you still have to buy a new PC to get it.


Microsoft has started publishing near-RTM builds of Windows 10X, and it was only a matter of time until a build leaked. So naturally, we went hands on with it.


The first thing you'll notice is a brand-new boot animation, and the whole look of the OOBE has changed too. The steps haven't changed too much though, asking very important questions like if you want to set up a second keyboard. Obviously, other things have been removed. You'll find that you can't set it up without a Microsoft account; if you try to disconnect from the internet, it won't work.


People seem to love to draw parallels to Chrome OS, but the only thing that they really have in common is that they're lacking legacy features. Windows 10X can't run Win32 apps, there's no command line, there's no Control Panel, and so on. In fact, you can't even run windowed apps. You can do split-screen apps, and that experience sort of reminds me of how Windows 10X worked on the dual-screen emulators.


Other than that, not a whole lot has changed since those days. Honestly, it's a little surprising that this is deemed ready to ship when it doesn't have support for windowed apps, but that should be indicative of the types of hardware that Microsoft plans to ship this on. Check out the hands-on video below.



Hands on with the leaked Windows 10X build for single-screen PCs

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