Leaked internal Microsoft documentation has revealed new details around Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10X operating system announced earlier this month for foldable PCs. The documentation reveals minor details around some of the user experience changes and enhancements you can expect to see on Windows 10X, and also confirms what we’ve been hearing about how Windows 10X will also be made available for laptops in addition to foldables.
Launcher replaces Start menu. We’ve been saying for a while that live tiles are on the way out, but Microsoft is also apparently renaming and replacing the Start menu with something called the Launcher. That sounds a lot like Chrome OS terminology to me. “Launcher helps users start and resume tasks quickly,” the documentation notes. “Search is seamlessly integrated with web results, available apps, and specific files on your device. Next up in the hierarchy of content is your default grid app, which can be customized and changed to meet individual needs and preferences. Launcher is opened and further assists in accelerating users with the use of muscle memory over time. And lastly, Recommended content is dynamically updated based on your most frequently and recently used apps, files, and websites. Jump back into your personal workflow without having to start from scratch.”
There’s also going to be a new Action Center and Quick Actions design, which will also house many system tray elements. Visually, notifications will now be separated from the quick actions area, although they are still accessed using the same entry point on the taskbar. The taskbar is also configurable, with the user being able to have a centered taskbar like we’ve seen so far, or a left-aligned taskbar like what’s on Windows 10 today.
The documentation also reveals a list of apps Microsoft expects will be inbox with Windows 10X when it launches next year. The list includes the usual apps:
- Microsoft Edge
- Microsoft To Do
- Microsoft Whiteboard
- Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Store
- UWP File Explorer
- Alarms & Clock
- Movies & TV
- Sticky Notes
- Snip & Sketch
- Voice Recorder
- Groove Music
- Feedback Hub
- Media Plans
This list likely isn’t final, as apps such as Your Phone and Skype don’t appear to be listed just yet. It’s also worth mentioning that the bundled Office apps such as Word and PowerPoint will be the PWA versions wrapped in a UWP wrapper, meaning they will be native to Windows 10X. Users will of course be able to download the Win32 versions of Office if they need.
The documentation makes brief mention of a new modern File Explorer, something we’ve known about as being in the works for Windows Core OS devices for some time. While no images of the new File Explorer have leaked yet, this documentation is the first time we’ve seen it confirmed via Microsoft itself. The leak also talks about a slightly updated login UI.
Improved Windows Hello. “When the screen turns on, you are immediately brought to a state of authentication,” the document noted, “unlike Windows 10 where you first need to dismiss the lock curtain before authenticating. Upon waking the device, Windows Hello Face instantly recognizes the user and will immediately transition to their desktop.” Just like the Pixel 4, as it turns out.
Optimized for local apps and PWAs. The documentation specifically called out “local apps and PWAs,” but I’m sure all Windows 10 app models (including UWP) will be supported in some way. We’ve heard that desktop applications will run in containers, for example, but I don’t believe this documentation confirmed that.
Overall, these details don’t reveal too much new, but they do give us a better idea at how Microsoft is planning to position Windows 10X when it starts shipping. While it will be exclusive to foldables at launch, Microsoft fully intends to make Windows 10X a version of Windows that users can buy on normal laptops and tablets as well.