Something to look forward to: Microsoft’s initial plans for Windows 10X derailed and then were moved last year, but the company is moving closer to offering a version for single-screen devices. A leaked build of the upcoming operating system shows a striking resemblance to Google’s Chrome OS.
Windows 10X has been building for years, and as it gets closer to release, more and more builds are leaking. Originally, the new operating system was meant to come with novel form factors such as dual-screened tablets, most notably the Surface Neo, but with delays on the hardware front, Windows 10X is now set for the first time on single-screen devices Has been done, possibly as soon as possible this year.
Windows Central, Throat, and The Verge are showing us what to expect from Microsoft’s response to Google’s Chrome OS. The two operating systems are similarly designed as a lightweight alternative to Windows 10 that will only come pre-installed on new hardware.
With Windows 10X, Microsoft hopes to prevent consumers from purchasing Chromebooks, which are seeing strong demand – 122% growth year over year on Q3 is nothing to sneeze at.
Like Chrome OS, Windows 10X focuses mostly on web apps. Leaked builds suggest that you can easily install progressive web apps from the Edge browser and pin them to the taskbar. It also confirms that Windows 10X will be limited to launch and store apps only, with Microsoft making a dent in supporting Win32 containers.
Taskbar Center has a simplified version of the regular Windows bar with the Start, Edge and Task View buttons. Opening the Start menu reveals a launcher, where you can search for apps, files, or websites. The settings are a similar experience to what you have on Windows 10, while Explorer is a lesser experience that limits you to some local folders and the contents of your OneDrive.
The interesting thing is that the apps run in full-screen mode, unless you snap them side-by-side. Switching between them can be done using traditional Alt-Tabbing as well as task view. There is no timeline support, but it will probably not be missed by most users. Action Center is a pop-out that reveals quick settings and notifications along with widgets for media playback control.
This preview of Windows 10X may also signal changes that Microsoft is expected to bring to the traditional version of Windows. Earlier this month, news came that Microsoft was working on a “comprehensive visual rejuvenation” for the operating system, which is currently a mixed bag in terms of UI design philosophy.