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Report: Microsoft likely to scrap Windows 10X operating system project

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Microsoft Corp. is likely to abandon its efforts to develop a simplified version of Windows for personal computers and folding handsets, according to a report published today.

In 2019, Microsoft announced plans to develop a new edition of Windows called Windows 10X that would feature both interface and architectural improvements over the original. The operating system was originally scheduled to release with the dual-screen Surface Neo tablet the company debuted that same year. But the release of the Surface Neo was eventually pushed back and Microsoft stopped sharing updates on Windows 10X.

Today’s report, from technology publication Petri, cites multiple sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans as saying that the operating system won’t launch this year. The sources added that the company is likely to cancel the project altogether.

Multiple factors are said to be behind the decision. Some Microsoft insiders reportedly believe that the operating system is “not ready to ship,” while early user feedback collected by the company has indicated that Windows 10X may not prove popular with consumers.

Even if development work won’t continue, some of the features that Microsoft has created as part of the project could reportedly still become available to consumers. Today’s report indicates that the company plans to incorporate them into Windows 10. It’s believed that the features Microsoft is looking to release include Windows 10X’s software container engine for running applications and certain elements of the user interface. 

According to previous reports, the software container engine works by running each program in a sandbox isolated from the underlying operating system. It has been reported that this isolation could increase operating system security. Another reported benefit is that the container engine disables Windows applications when they’re minimized, which can extend the battery life of devices such as laptops. 

The other major difference between Windows 10X and Windows 10 is the interface. According to leaked screenshots, Microsoft has revamped the Taskbar to display application shortcuts at the center of the ribbon rather than to the side and refreshed the Start menu with a new, minimalist design.

Some of the interface changes introduced in Windows 10X could roll out to standard Windows as early as this year. Microsoft is said to be preparing a new operating system update called Sun Valley that is expected to bring Taskbar and Start menu redesigns inspired by Windows 10X.

Microsoft may have originally planned to use the platform to challenge Google LLC. Windows 10X, which in its original form was meant to support dual-screen handsets such as the Surface Neo, could have created some competition for Google’s Android. Moreover, the operating system’s container-powered security and power-saving features suggest Microsoft was planning to target the part of the laptop segment in which Google competes with Chrome OS.

Depending on how the company ports Windows 10X’s features to Windows 10, it could potentially still continue the strategy. Windows 10 already has a set of programming interfaces, collectively known as UWP, for creating power- and hardware-efficient applications that can run well on devices such as laptops.  

Photo: Microsoft

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