Did you know that, for years, Microsoft has been deathly afraid of Chromebooks? This fear led the company to try and build a more streamlined, slimmed-down version of Windows — called Windows 10X — as competition. You probably never heard about Windows 10X, because honestly, it wasn’t worth concerning yourself with until Microsoft actually put the operating system on a product, which it never did. And now Windows 10X is reportedly dead, according to Petri (via The Verge). It is not coming out in 2021 as planned, and will likely never see the light of day at all — at least as a separate product.
The story is interesting to me, at least, because of how I think Microsoft seems to have misread the market. Chromebooks are attractive because they’re simple and cheap. People know they’re getting a computer that is basically just a glorified web browser. Really, that is all some need.
But Microsoft saw Chromebooks and decided to try and do that while still grafting some of Windows onto that experience. That approach, however, comes with some very obvious drawbacks. You’re essentially creating two Windows ecosystems at that point. That can get messy and a bit confusing for those who are unsure what works with their particular version of Windows and what doesn’t.
Really, if Microsoft wanted a Chromebook competitor, what it could’ve done is just fashion some sort of Linux-based OS that only ran Edge and set that loose. It could’ve put that OS on laptops and tablets. It could’ve called the products Edgebooks and Edge Tablets or something, and nudged people toward Office 365 and such with those. People understand web browsers! They know what websites are, and that websites are different than actual apps on a PC.
Instead, Microsoft appears to be canning Windows 10X with the hopes it can shift some of its ideas into Windows 10 proper. Hopefully these 10X concepts don’t muck up the Windows 10 some of us very much like to use.