Microsoft confirms Windows 10X is coming to laptops amid big jump in Windows usage

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Microsoft is confirming today that it’s planning to refocus Windows 10X on single-screen devices. “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,” explains Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Windows and devices chief. “With Windows 10X, we designed for flexibility, and that flexibility has enabled us to pivot our focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices that leverage the power of the cloud to help our customers work, learn and play in new ways.”

Microsoft isn’t saying exactly when single-screen devices like laptops will support Windows 10X, nor when dual-screen devices will launch with the OS. However, Windows 10X will launch on single-screen devices first. “We will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market,” says Panay.

The new Windows 10X Start menu.

Microsoft is reprioritizing Windows 10X for laptops and single-screen devices because of the coronavirus pandemic. The software maker has seen a 75 percent year-over-year increase in the time spent in Windows 10. More people are turning to using their laptops or PCs instead of a smartphone or tablet during the lockdowns we’ve seen worldwide to work or study.

Originally planned for dual-screen hardware like the Surface Neo, Windows 10X includes a more stripped-back, simplified, and modern Windows interface. Microsoft has been working to modernize Windows 10X with some UI and UX changes that improve basics like multitasking, using the Start menu, and quick access to settings.

Microsoft has, to date, only discussed Windows 10X running on dual-screen and foldable computers, but leaks soon after its announcement suggested the streamlined OS would also appear on laptops. Microsoft is not discussing a timeline for its release, though, or whether the dual-screen Surface Neo is delayed beyond 2020 as reports have suggested.

It’s not clear exactly what Windows 10X will bring to regular laptops outside of its UX improvements, modernization, and container app technology. Windows 10X already needed some explaining for dual-screen devices, so Microsoft is going to have to be careful about avoiding having two different versions of Windows for single-screen devices.

We’re now expecting to hear more about the cloud-powered virtualization parts of Windows 10X at the Build developers conference later this month. There will be a bigger focus on Windows, given its importance during the pandemic, and Panay promises “we are going to share how we will reduce complexity for developers by making it easier than ever to build for all 1 billion Windows 10 devices, all at once.”

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