Microsoft announced Windows 10X at a Surface hardware event back in New York City in November 2019. It was part of an announcement for two new hardware categories in the Surface lineup. The Surface Duo is a new dual-screen device that fits in your pocket and runs Android. The Surface Neo is a larger dual-screen device with two 9″ touch screens and a 360-degree hinge. It can also work with a pen and an external keyboard. It’s essentially a folding tablet. Although that isn’t what Microsoft is calling it.
But what’s most interesting about the Surface Neo is that it will ship with a yet to be finished version of Windows called Windows 10X. Based on Windows CoreOS, Windows 10X is designed for touch, dual screens, and runs Microsoft Store apps. The news that it will also support for containerized Win32 legacy desktop apps was leaked through an internal document soon after the hardware event in NYC.
Microsoft Surface Duo preview SDK
On January 22nd, Microsoft made the preview SDK for the Surface Duo available. Developers looking to create applications for the Surface Duo can download the preview SDK here. Documentation for best practices, UX design patterns, and more is also available.
Microsoft says that the SDK includes native Java APIs to support dual-screen development and an Android emulator with a preview Surface Duo image that is integrated into Android Studio. Developers can use the emulator to test their apps without needing a physical device.
Microsoft Emulator for Windows 10X
While the Surface Duo preview SDK has already debuted, we’re going to have to wait until February 11th until the Surface Neo (Windows 10X) gets the same treatment. February 11th should see the arrival of a preview SDK for Window 10X along with new APIs for dual-screen support, documentation, and code samples.
The Microsoft Emulator is a dual-screen Hyper-V emulator that can be used with existing Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and legacy Win32 desktop apps. Just like the Surface Duo emulator, Microsoft Emulator will allow developers to create applications for Windows 10X, both single and dual screen, without needing a physical device.
To run Microsoft Emulator, you’ll need a recent 64-bit Windows 10 Insider Build, a 4-core CPU, minimum 8GB RAM, a dedicated Direct X 11.0 or later GPU, and Hyper-V enabled.
Microsoft Edge takes center stage
As part of the announcement on the Windows blog, it looks as though Microsoft is placing its new Chromium-based Edge browser center stage for the developer and end-user experience. The new Edge will run on both the Surface Duo and Neo. And it will have support for Progressive Web Apps (PWA) from the get-go.
Windows 10X is still barebones
People who have had the chance to use Windows 10X have said it is rudimentary at this stage and that there is still a lot of work to do. Let’s hope that it won’t be in the terrible condition that Windows 10 Mobile was at launch when devices first appear for the holiday season 2020.