Windows 10X’s public announcement co-incided with the reveal of the Surface Neo, a dual-screen device that was the larger compatriot of the Surface Duo. While the latter uses Android as its operating system, the Surface Neo was going to be Microsoft‘s first device running 10X, a variant of Windows geared towards both dual-screened and lightweight spec devices. Then the 10X was retargeted towards single screen devices, both convertibles and clamshells. Now it’s not targeted at all.
In fact, Microsoft has a much better solution to taking on the challenges of lightweight Windows 10 hardware and the rise of the Chromebook platform… and it’s already on every Windows 10 device.
Thanks to the availability of the Edge browser, every Windows 10 user can roll their own progressive web app. Some companies have taken whole-heartedly to this – Twitter’s app in the Microsoft Store is a great example of a PWA with a huge amount of features; to all intents and purposes this is a regular app in the eyes of the user, but it’s built on web technologies rather than native code.
A great example on the benefits of PWA can be found in the Surface Pro X, Microsoft’s ARM powered 2-in-1 tablet computer. Microsoft has included 32-bit emulation to support the countless x86 apps available for Windows 10, and 64-bit emulation will reach the public in ‘the near future’, but the revelation in use, at least for me, is just how useful the Pro X is when you are using a mix of PWA and the web browser.
What’s needed is not a new fork of Windows to try and accommodate different hardware, it’s better use of the tools currently available, and work to make the user interface better suited to the modern use cases. Let’s face it, the tablet mode in Windows 10 is very much a minimum viable product – lots of promise on top of a workable but bare solution.
At which point the question moves on from the idea of Windows 10X and specialist hardware, to the potential of a reworked Windows 10 interface to bring more attention to PWA as well as redefining the user interface away from legacy elements stretching back to the 20th century. That’s the focus of the upcoming Window 10 Sun Valley update.