Microsoft has announced that it intends to bring Windows 10X, its upcoming cloud-first, stripped back version of Windows, to single screen devices first. This is a reversal of its initial announcement, when Windows 10X was going to debut on the dual-screen Surface Neo foldable device.
The company is developing Windows 10X in an attempt to modernise Windows, which has always followed the same UX and UI elements despite numerous facelifts. Changes are set to include a reworked Start menu, new settings options, and better ways to multitask in a world of app and cloud based computing.
In an official statement, Windows and devices head Panos Panay said:
“The world is a very different place than it was last October when we shared our vision for a new category of dual-screen Windows devices. As we continue to put customers’ needs at the forefront, we need to focus on meeting customers where they are now … With Windows 10X, we designed for flexibility, and that flexibility has enabled us to pivot our focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices that … will be the first expression of Windows 10X that we deliver to our customers, and we will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market.”
While not official confirmation that the Surface Neo will be delayed indefinitely, it certainly looks to be that way. The dual-screen Neo was announced alongside the Android-running Surface Duo last October, but Microsoft only said they would release in 2020. That is now in doubt.
Windows 10x was always meant to launch with the Neo and other dual-screen devices, perhaps like Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold. But now after the coronavirus pandemic has set in worldwide, Microsoft is refocusing priorities for its customers.
Pany said that “over 4 trillion minutes are being spent on Windows 10 a month, a 75% increase year on year”, and has decided that the company must focus on better addressing the needs of current users of single screen devices as Windows 10 use skyrockets, rather than future users of dual screen ones.
While that’s good news and will be exciting to see if Microsoft can implement Windows 10X on affordable single screen laptops and tablets, it’s bad that the Surface Neo and Duo will be delayed. Hopefully they don’t become concept devices that never actually get released, though at this stage that is unlikely.