Through the looking glass: If you love Windows 10’s fantastic Search implementation, glittery Start Menu, and all-round fantastic reliability, then a sneaky Microsoft internal document has some good news for you. The new Windows 10X, announced as a companion OS for the dual-screen Surface Neo, will be doubling down on all those things and clambering onto clamshell laptops, too.
Microsoft’s intentions regarding 10X’s user interface were almost entirely revealed by a now-absent webpage, first mentioned to a little blue bird by a prowling feline. The changes are sweeping for the typically static Windows, but there’s nothing revolutionary: call it ChromeOS for Windows.
The Start Menu, now called the ‘Launcher’ in very Android-y fashion, is helmed by a new Search feature that is “seamlessly integrated with web results, available apps and specific files on your device.” It supports voice, keyboard, and touch and is based on everyone’s favorite search engine, Bing. Sitting just below is a semi-permanent app grid, that’s chosen by the user but can shift slightly based on use. Websites can be installed as apps from Edge. Expanding it reveals all the device’s apps, and they can be uninstalled from there.
Beneath that is a “recommended” section, focused on content that is “dynamically updated based on your most frequently and recently used apps, files, and websites.” Live tiles, and the app list as we know it is entirely gone. As a bonus, so is Cortana.
At the bottom of a new Windows 10X interface you’ll find a revamped Taskbar, which might have a mysterious new File Explorer. “For both clamshells and foldables, the taskbar will be the same base model with a series of ‘levers’ which can be pulled to create some alternatives in the model.” Levers include alignment, number of recents, the order of recents, and a few stylistic choices.
On the right will be an Action Center, that seems to replace both the notification center and quick settings. Taking another cue from Android, there’s a normal notifications list and some configurable quick settings behind a swipe. Interestingly there’s also a reference to cellular settings, which might suggest the Neo has a SIM slot.
The documents show there’s plenty still undecided about Windows 10X – we’re commenting on design abstracts here, so don’t think anything is a guarantee. In fact, if these documents are as recent as they suggest, then Microsoft doesn’t even have a single line of code ready for Windows 10X. That makes this the perfect opportunity to give some feedback to Microsoft so they can implement it for the Surface Neo’s release next year. If you have some ideas, be vocal.