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Hands on with the leaked Windows 10X build for single-screen PCs

Early build of Windows 10X running on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold

Windows 10X has had a confusing history. First leaked as Windows Lite, it was Microsoft's newest attempt at a Chromebook competitor, following spectacular failures like Windows RT and Windows 10 S. But when Windows 10X was unveiled in October 2019, it was shown as an OS that's built specifically for dual-screen devices. Eventually, those plans were delayed indefinitely and it was back to being a single-screen OS. Panos Panay said that Microsoft wants to meet customers where they are, except you still have to buy a new PC to get it.

Microsoft has started publishing near-RTM builds of Windows 10X, and it was only a matter of time until a build leaked. So naturally, we went hands on with it.

The first thing you'll notice is a brand-new boot animation, and the whole look of the OOBE has changed too. The steps haven't changed too much though, asking very important questions like if you want to set up a second keyboard. Obviously, other things have been removed. You'll find that you can't set it up without a Microsoft account; if you try to disconnect from the internet, it won't work.

People seem to love to draw parallels to Chrome OS, but the only thing that they really have in common is that they're lacking legacy features. Windows 10X can't run Win32 apps, there's no command line, there's no Control Panel, and so on. In fact, you can't even run windowed apps. You can do split-screen apps, and that experience sort of reminds me of how Windows 10X worked on the dual-screen emulators.

Other than that, not a whole lot has changed since those days. Honestly, it's a little surprising that this is deemed ready to ship when it doesn't have support for windowed apps, but that should be indicative of the types of hardware that Microsoft plans to ship this on. Check out the hands-on video below.

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