At the start of 2021, a “near final version” of the operating system with which Microsoft intends to counter Chrome OS leaked. It revealed key visual similarities to Google’s offering, but it has now emerged that Windows 10X is not shipping in 2021 and might have been killed, at least in its current iteration.

According to reports from Petri and Windows Central today, Microsoft is abandoning its plan to launch Windows 10X this year. Development has halted, with the former publication noting that “the OS as you know it today, will likely never arrive.”

Windows 10X was expected as early as this spring and primarily aimed at businesses, as well as education customers. That audience closely aligned with Chromebooks, with web apps and the cloud driving the core experiences. 

Visually, the 10X UI that leaked in January showed a desktop with no folders and a taskbar with centered apps. A full-screen web launcher prompted users to “Search the web or your devices,” just like Chrome OS: “Search your device, apps, settings, web… ” This was followed by a grid of “apps and websites.” Quick settings and notifications in the bottom-right corner were another visual similarity. Meanwhile, the Windows 10X set-up process required a Microsoft account and internet access.

According to Windows Central, “movement on 10X as a whole has grinded to a halt” in favor of Windows 10 and its Sun Valley update in the fall to modernize the Desktop UI and experience. Windows 10X innovations like faster updates and the need for less powerful hardware specs are not currently expected for the main OS. Those are two key advantages of Chrome OS today and their growing market share. It comes as Google in March celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first Chromebooks with a big version 89 update.

Petri notably adds that “many inside the company” did not feel Windows 10X was ready to launch and that feedback from customer testing was “not aligned to the product that they were producing.” It’s important to note that Windows 10X originally started as an OS for dual-screen devices, like the Surface Neo — which might also have been killed given a lack of rumors. Last May, Microsoft pivoted to regular laptops amid the work-from-home surge. 

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