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Windows 10X is coming to laptops soon — and that could be bad for Chromebooks

Windows 10X
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Last fall, Microsoft took the wraps off of the Surface Neo: an exciting dual-screen PC built to offer fresh ways to work and play via a nimble new version of Windows dubbed Windows 10X. The current global crisis has forced Microsoft to shift its focus to core Windows products, but it now plans on bringing Windows 10X to traditional laptops — which could lead to a suite of serious Chromebook rivals.

In a blog post shared today (May 4), Panos Panay, chief product officer for Windows and Devices, discussed a variety of new Windows updates, and outlined how Microsoft has adapted to the state of the world. While dual-screen devices such as the Surface Neo seem to still be on the company's roadmap, Microsoft seems focused on better supporting people around the globe who suddenly find themselves having to work from home.

"As we continue to put customers’ needs at the forefront, we need to focus on meeting customers where they are now," wrote Panay. "Our customers are leveraging the power of the cloud more than ever, and we believe the time is right to lean into this acceleration in a different way."

Panay notes that Microsoft is now focused on "single-screen Windows 10X devices that leverage the power of the cloud to help our customers work, learn and play in new ways." He didn't give a timetable for when Windows 10X laptops may arrive, but the operating system was originally intended to launch by fall 2020.

The idea of a nimble, cloud-dependent Windows 10 laptop sounds a whole lot like Microsoft's answer  to Chromebooks, which rely largely on web-based apps like Chrome and Gmail and have become popular due to their low price. If Microsoft and its hardware partners can roll out a suite of dependable Windows machines for under $400 or so, then parents, teachers and the millions of people working from home might have a reason to buy something other than an affordable Chromebook.

Panay also outlined the Windows 10 May 2020 update, which will introduce more streamlined Bluetooth connectivity options, a better tablet mode for 2-in-1s and drag and drop functionality for those using eye-tracking devices. We're hoping this update ships without any nasty bugs, but recent Windows updates have been plagued by some pretty serious issues.

Finally, Panay touched on the upcoming Microsoft Build 2020 virtual conference, and how it will make it "easier than ever [for developers] to build for all 1 billion Windows 10 devices." Perhaps we'll get a better idea of the future of Windows 10X devices at the show, so be sure to tune in starting May 19.