When we Microsoft watchers first got wind of Windows Lite/Santorini, tipsters indicated that the coming Windows 10 variant would be key to Microsoft's Chromebook-compete strategy. But when Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 10X, as the coming new flavor of Windows 10 is known officially, there was no mention of the OS being available anywhere other than dual-screen devices like the coming Surface Neo. However, a new leak sheds more light on Microsoft's real intentions with 10X.
On October 25, the WalkingCat on Twitter posted a link to a password-protected Microsoft site known as santorini-os.azurewebsites.net. Shortly after that, "Boris" (a k a @_milincic_) posted screenshots of what was behind that link. (Microsoft has since removed the site.) And one of the most interesting bits in what he posted was a mention of Windows 10X being available "for both clamshells and foldables."
Microsoft went public with Windows 10X during its fall Surface hardware event in early October. At that time, officials described Windows 10X as built for "dual-screen PCs." Officials made no mention of 10X being available on any other type of device in early October.
Though pricing isn't yet available for Microsoft and third-party devices running 10X, it's a safe bet that anything with two glass screens won't be cheap. They won't be competing with Chromebooks in the education market. But if PC makers bring Windows 10X to more traditional clamshell laptop form factors, there's a chance they could deliver machines running the simpler and cleaner Windows 10X OS that could compete with Chromebooks, at least price-wise.
Some of the other tidbits from the screenshots posted by Boris:
- Microsoft seemingly is calling the new Start menu in 10X the "Launcher." (See a screenshot of it from the Santorini site embedded in the post above.) Microsoft currently calls its Android launcher "Microsoft Launcher."
- The unified Microsoft Search technology will be front and center on Windows 10X devices.
- Staying in "your flow" is a recurring theme in the leaked Santorini documentation. Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay often uses this metaphor to describe the way Microsoft has designed its Surface devices. Because the Windows, Office and Surface teams all work together on building hardware/software experiences these days, the choice of wording isn't coincidental.
- Regina Son, who is mentioned in the Santorini documentation, is a Senior Designer on the Microsoft 365 Foundational Experiences and Devices team. She's been on that team for four months, according to her LinkedIn page. Her profile says she is "currently working on the next generation of Windows OS and devices" and mentions Surface Neo, the coming dual-screen Windows 10X device from Microsoft as an example.
Like Windows Central, I am hearing from my contacts that Microsoft intends to finalize the Windows 10X code in early 2020 -- around the same time it "finishes" Windows 10 20H1 -- so that it can get 10X into developers' hands in a timely way. Microsoft officials have said Surface Neo running 10X will be available commercially during holiday 2020, as will other PC makers' devices running Windows 10X.