What Office users need to know about the new Windows 10X

Windows 10X is coming and you’ll hear a lot about it in the coming months. Let’s see what Windows 10X is, how it will run Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook) and why most people won’t need to worry about Windows 10X.

What is Windows 10X?

Windows 10X is a very scaled-down or lightweight version of Windows 10.

It’s NOT a replacement or upgrade for Windows 10 or any other Windows.

10X is designed for tablets and cheap notebooks.  It’s (yet another) attempt by Microsoft to rival Chromebooks and iPads. 

(Windows 10S was another bid at a low-end Windows which got nowhere, now Redmond is having another go.)

Windows 10X will only be sold on new devices (just like Chromebooks or iPad). 

Originally 10X was for dual-screen Surface devices out in 2020 but, like so many other 2020 things, that plan was pushed into 2021. Now 10X will come out on single screen devices.

Pre-release image of Windows on a dual-screen device.  Source: Microsoft

What will 10X look like?

10X got some press interest recently because a preview version leaked (deliberately?).

Click on the Windows icon to see a menu of apps and recent documents for the Microsoft account.

The core of 10X is the Edge browser, similar to a Chromebook that’s mainly a home to the Chrome browser.

There’s a simplified Action Center supporting VPN, external (wired) displays, Ease of Access etc.

Apps can be windowed and side-by-side just like the current Windows.

File Explorer is greatly simplified for managing OneDrive cloud storage.  Files can be saved on the small internal drive or USB memory stick. Right-click on a file and choose ‘Always keep on this device’ which is the same option on Windows 10 plus Apple and Android OneDrive apps.

10X and Microsoft Office

At first, 10X will be limited to using Office in a web browser and as Progressive Web Apps.

Office Mobile apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote might also be available. (They don’t work in the current preview but should be the public release). The Office apps will, presumably, need a paid Microsoft 365 plan if the Windows 10X device is over 10.1″ screen size (that’s the current policy for other devices like iPads)

Remote Desktop is available so people can access a Windows computer with all its programs and features.  That means a 10X device could link to a full Windows 10 machine and operate it remotely – including any Office software installed on it.

TeamViewer is also available.  It can remotely connect to Windows and Mac computers across the Internet.  This is TeamViewer running on Windows 10X, remote controlling a Mac computer.

TeamViewer app running on Windows 10X, remote controlling a Mac computer.

Chromebook and iPads can do the same thing with Remote Desktop or TeamViewer (to access Mac computers).

Promised for later release will be a virtual container to allow Windows desktop programs like Office 365/2019 to run on a 10X machine. We’re wary of this promise, the container might run 32/64-bit apps but could be very sluggish unless the computer has a powerful CPU and enough memory.

Will Windows 10X succeed?

Microsoft has never done well chasing the low-priced end of the market. Chromebooks have become popular as low-cost notebooks for education and organizations or secondary machines at home. Apple’s iPad caught Microsoft napping and they’ve never caught up.

Chromebooks have grabbed market share mainly for their low price – far lower than Windows 10 machines.  Chrome OS runs well on less powerful CPU’s and has excellent battery life.  They are also very easy to use without the cluttered interface of Windows 10.

Windows 10X devices will need to be cheap to compete with Chromebooks and have equivalent battery life.

Who knows what 2021 will bring?

What about Windows 10?

Later this year, Windows 10 will get a revamped interface or what Microsoft hypes as a ‘sweeping visual rejuvenation’. The Start Menu, Explorer and supplied apps are all marked for changes.

Time will tell whether these will be an improvement, a dumbing down or mere superficial changes.  Based on Microsoft’s track record, place your bets on the latter two options <sigh>.

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