Microsoft has been unsuccessfully trying to build a lighter version of Windows for over 10 years. The latest effort, Windows 10X, has now reportedly been shelved, in favor of improving Windows 10.
Petri reports that Windows 10X will be discontinued this year, and the operating system will likely never arrive in its current form. Microsoft originally planned to provide Windows 10X, a lighter and simplified version of Windows, in addition to new dual-screen devices such as the Surface Neo. That was before the pandemic hit and Microsoft decided to prioritize Windows 10X for single-screen laptops instead.
The switch is designed to position Windows 10X more like a competitor to Chrome OS. Windows 10X included a simplified interface, an updated Start menu without Live Tiles, improvements for multitasking, and a dedicated app container for performance and security. Microsoft’s overall goal with 10X was to create a stripped-down, streamlined, and modern cloud-powered version of Windows.
Microsoft has always viewed Chromebooks as a major threat to businesses and schools, but the demand for regular Windows laptops has skyrocketed over the past year. Despite a global chip shortage, the PC market did not slow down during the pandemic. Microsoft benefited directly from higher Windows revenues. Windows OEM sales grew 10 percent in the quarter, driven by strong consumer demand for PCs. Windows retail OEM sales also grew 44 percent.
According to Microsoft, there are now 1.3 billion active Windows 10 devices. That’s a huge number of existing devices, and it seems Microsoft is now focused on improving the core of Windows rather than delivering a new variant. Microsoft has been gradually improving the Windows 10 user interface, with new system icons, improvements to File Explorer, and even the end of Windows 95-era icons.
All of these visual changes are part of a wider effort code-named Sun Valley. Microsoft hasn’t officially detailed this work yet, but a job posting earlier this year teased a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows.” We expect there will be a lot of visual changes in the Windows 10 21H2 update that should be released in October.
Elsewhere, Microsoft is also focusing on improving Windows for those who rely on it every day. The software maker finally solves the problem of rearranging apps on multiple monitors, adding the Xbox Auto HDR function and even improving the Bluetooth audio support.
Obviously, Microsoft is going back to basics, after more than a decade of trying to simplify Windows. Windows RT first debuted in 2012, then Windows 10 S came in 2017. Both failed to simplify Windows, but Windows 10X had some interesting changes that will undoubtedly make their way to Windows 10.