Microsoft Adapts Windows 10X Strategy To Compete With Chrome OS

Windows Android apps AH 2019

Microsoft is switching its strategy with Windows 10X to focus more on competing directly with Chrome OS, based on recent reports. The company has effectively decided to shift from developing the OS for dual-screen devices to laptops and other single-display hardware. The move also comes amid ongoing work-from-home trends but also seems to hinge on decidedly Chrome OS-like features.

For starters, Windows 10X will utilize a simplified interface, including a reworked Start menu. Multitasking improvements are another key area of import that will take center stage. The new version will be stream-lined and cloud-focused. Windows and devices chief Panos Panay has said that’s because customers are ‘leveraging’ the cloud more than ever. That signals to the company that “the time is right to lean into this acceleration in a different way” than it had been.

Perhaps more importantly, Microsoft is working to ensure that security takes the lead alongside portability and performance. To that end, it is reportedly working to include a way for apps to run in specialized containers.


Why shift Windows 10X toward Chrome OS-like computing?

Windows 10X was, as mentioned above, intended to be designed for multi-screen devices rather than compete with Chrome OS. The plan was to adjust for laptops later on but focus initially on lightweight devices that were ultra-portable such as the Surface Neo. But Chromebooks have increasingly stolen market space, particularly in the education and enterprise markets, since their inception.

As more employees and students are working from home, that’s meant a serious uptick in Chromebook sales. Chromebooks are increasingly difficult to find at retailers and online as a result. That’s left little room for Microsoft to compete. Additionally, it’s meant that fewer consumers are interested in new and novel technologies such as dual-screen computers.

As a result, Surface Neo has been delayed beyond the end of 2020. And Microsoft has also indicated it won’t be shipping Windows 10X to any multi-display devices for the remainder of the year either. That includes laptop-like dual-screen computers that were in the works from some of the biggest names in the industry.


This isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt

Now, this isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt to take on Google’s Chromebook OS directly. In fact, it isn’t even its second attempt. Microsoft first pushed out a new “S Mode” for Windows 10 back in 2017. Geared toward low-end laptops with budget-friendly hardware, Windows 10 S aimed to help make Windows machines cheaper.

In 2018, rumors began to swirl about a second attempt to reclaim some market share from Google. The competitor for Chrome OS this time around was speculatively dubbed Windows 10 Lite.

Windows 10X, takes a different approach, however. Instead of focusing solely on budget components and optimizations, it places a greater focus on security and portability. Equally important, it places emphasis on cloud applications. Those serve as an increasingly important piece of the software puzzle for laptops, arguably garnering more attention than traditional installations. So this is a natural shift in direction for Microsoft as much as it is about Windows 10X competing with Chrome OS.