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Microsoft: Don't expect any Windows 10X devices this calendar year

Microsoft is shifting its Windows focus to reflect the new world where virtualization and single-screen devices are more of a priority than brand-new form factors.

Microsoft is setting internal expectations that it won't deliver any Windows 10X devices in calendar 2020, my contacts say. This isn't really surprising, given what's going on externally with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. But for enthusiasts who were looking forward to dual-screen Surface Neo devices this holiday season, the reality is taking root.

My contacts say that Chief Product Officer Panos Panay informed some of his team internally today, April 8, that Microsoft wouldn't be delivering its own Surface Neo dual-screen 10X devices this calendar year. In addition, Microsoft also won't be enabling third-party dual-screen Windows devices to ship with 10X in calendar 2020, I hear. 

Microsoft's new priority is to get Windows 10X on single-screen devices first -- which could be good news for those who were hoping that Microsoft's 10X push might help the company in its Chromebook-compete effort. (Single-screen devices means both 2-in-1-type form factors and traditional clamshell-type devices.)

I am hearing Microsoft is not saying that it plans to delay its Android-based Surface Duo to some time beyond this holiday season. 

I asked Microsoft for comment, but a spokesperson said the company had nothing to share.  

In late February 2020 Microsoft officials warned that the COVID-19 coronavirus was affecting the company's China-based supply chain. But officials had been hinting recently that the supply chain was coming back, giving some hope that Microsoft still could meet its original holiday 2020 goal for its new Surface dual-screen devices.

Windows 10X is a variant of Windows 10. It was formerly known by the Windows Lite/Santorini codenames. Microsoft officials have said publicly that Windows 10X is for dual-screen devices only, but privately, Microsoft has been working on making Windows 10X work on single screen/clamshell devices, as well.

In January 2020, Microsoft began rolling out developer tools for its dual-screen Surface Duo Android phone. Just yesterday, Panay made available on Instagram a photo taken with the Surface Duo. 

In February this year, Microsoft showed off publicly how containerized apps would work on Windows 10X. Officials didn't discuss how well/badly Win32 apps worked when virtualized on 10X, but the inside word was the team had a long way to go to make this something "normal" users would understand and accept, as compatibility levels were not great.

I've heard from some of my sources that Microsoft still has hopes that it could deliver some of the promised features for 10X -- specifically the ability to make existing Windows applications available virtually using containers -- sooner rather than later, which would mean they'd be incorporated in Windows 10, not just 10X. I'd expect the company is also figuring out how it could make promised 10X features beyond containers, such as some kind of trust system for applications, available as part of Windows 10 before 10X is available, as well.

Given how many people are working remotely right now, Microsoft prioritizing virtualized environments, enabled by containers and/or Windows Virtual Desktop, makes a lot of sense.