Microsoft has confirmed a drastic change to its next-generation version of Windows 10. Dubbed Windows 10X, the overhauled version of the operating system was first announced alongside the dual-screen Surface Neo. A short video preview of the new software showcased the ability to snap windowed applications one either touchscreen or allowing it to stretch between the two displays if you need more screen real estate.

Windows 10X also includes a more simplified and modern user interface design. Improvements to multitasking, the design of the Start menu and faster access to Settings – which are confusingly split between the Control Panel and Settings app in the current iteration of Windows 10. It’s a fresh new start for Windows 10 designed for a fresh new category of devices from Microsoft.

The Redmond-based firm has confirmed plans to refocus Windows 10X for single-screen devices like, erm, the existing Windows 10 operating system running on two billion PCs worldwide. It’s unclear exactly why Microsoft has decided to bring the operating system to the devices already being serviced by the existing version of Windows 10.

“The world is a very different place than it was last October when we shared our vision for a new category of dual-screen Windows devices,” explained Windows and Devices chief Panos Panay in an announcement about the future of the operating system. “With Windows 10X, we designed for flexibility, and that flexibility has enabled us to pivot our focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices that leverage the power of the cloud to help our customers work, learn and play in new ways.”

Microsoft hasn’t confirmed exactly when Windows 10X will be rolling out to laptops, tablets and desktops worldwide. It is also keeping mum about when the operating system will be coming to dual-screen devices – the hardware it was originally created to serve.

“We will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market,” offers Panos Panay.

The pivot has been triggered by the ongoing public health crisis. Microsoft says it has seen a 75 percent year-over-year increase in the amount of time spent in Windows 10 as millions stay at home or work from their living room.

More people are turning to traditional laptops or desktops – instead of the tablets, two-in-one hybrids, or smartphones more useful when travelling on commuter trains, buses or business flights before the pandemic hit.

With the change to single-screen devices, it’s not exactly clear what advantages Windows 10X will bring – aside from a lick of paint to the user interface and the speed and performance improvements you’d expect from a ground-up redesign.

But is that worth the widespread confusion Microsoft is undoubtedly going to cause by having two distinct versions of Windows available for laptop and desktop owners? Should you run Windows 10 or Windows 10X on your single-screen device?

Microsoft hasn’t offered any advice for users asking themselves that question. Hopefully, that changes as the release approaches.

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World news – US – Microsoft confirms drastic change to next-generation version of Windows 10

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