The little secrets of Windows 10X dvoil by Microsoft

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By unveiling the next OS, Windows 10X intended for dual-screen terminals, Microsoft has given an overview of development directions. The editor relies on better ergonomics, containers for applications and enhanced security.

Windows 10X a

Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled Windows 10X, an optimized version of the famous OS for dual-screen terminals like the Surface Neo. These new formats are starting to develop and the publisher must respond. At its latest event, Microsoft provided developers with a Windows 10X emulator that requires a powerful PC and Windows Insider registration. Our colleagues from PCWorld had the opportunity to analyze the various contributions of this next operating system.

A simplified and prettier Windows shell

Windows 10X features a redesigned user interface. Traditional Windows features still work: different inputs, drag and drop, clipboard, etc. But in Windows 10X, there is a small dock that integrates the elements of the classic Windows taskbar and an “app drawer” (portfolio of applications) for smartphones. The Windows start button is placed on the screen from left to bottom center. The way in which the app icons are positioned on the screen uses the codes of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) more than the PC OS.

Adaptation to different formats

On dual screen terminals, Microsoft considers that there will be a variety of formats and that it is therefore up to the OS to adapt to it. The American firm is therefore considering 5 different hardware models (see diagram below): laptop, digital book, tablet (single and dual screen) and tent format.

The different terminal formats capable of accommodating Windows 10X. (Photo Credit: Microsoft)

Windows 10X offers, for example, on dual-screen formats where one is rotated, a function to turn off the screen both to save energy and avoid typing errors. In addition, on the Surface Neo, it is possible to integrate a keyboard that leaves space for a Wonder Bar, equivalent to the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro. Compared to its Apple counterpart, it is larger (see image below) and more intuitive, especially in the text suggestion in the search. Windows 10X in this case uses the automatic entry from smartphones to adapt it to the Windows environment.

The Wonder Bar in emulation mode (Photo credit: Microsoft)

Large workspaces

Anyone who’s ever worked on multiple screens understands the information benefits. Windows 10X provides a triple answer to these advantages. First, the applications open up into “extended workspaces” by dividing the program over the two screens. Second possibility, “focused screens” place the applications separately on each screen. Finally a last option allows applications to work together regardless of the type of screens on which they run (connected apps).

Several reading options are possible. (Photo Credit: Microsoft)

There already seem to be advantages but also disadvantages to this approach. Opening a web page on both screens – with a space in the middle – can be awkward when the page is presented vertically. According to Kevin Gallo, vice president of the Windows Developer Platform, “Applications will open by default on one screen. Finding a restaurant in Edge, for example, will open the browser in a single pane. By touching the map in the web page, the Maps application will open on the second screen while leaving the first open. It’s logic “.

An interaction between screens and applications. (Photo Credit: Microsoft)

Les applications en mode « Read Only »

The core of Windows 10X is designed in locked mode, so that only trusted apps run on the OS, like in Windows 10 S. Unlike its counterpart for ARM, Windows 10X can run Win32 apps as well as code and programs with a “good reputation” including those published in the MSIX container. This expands the catalog beyond simple traditional UWP apps like Mail and Calendar.

Apps like Photos will be easier to use. (Photo Credit: Microsoft)

The publisher indicates that it will not be necessary to download the apps only from the Microsoft Store. If the application is reliable, it can be downloaded from a website or from a USB stick.

Do without anti-malware

As with Windows S, Microsoft believes relying on signed, trusted apps will remove the need for anti-malware apps, including Windows Defender. With this approach, the publisher considers that the performance required by anti-malware can be reassigned to other areas of the operating system.

Updates in 90 seconds

According to Andrew Clinick, Partner Program Manager at Microsoft, Windows 10X won’t take more than 90 seconds to update the device. How? ‘Or’ What ? the manager explains that the OS will work a little differently from Windows 10. The installation processes for the OS, drivers or applications have been separated. Instead of downloading the update, then restarting the PC to install it, the update will quickly install in the background and will be effective after the reboot.

Developers can test the OS through an emulator. (Photo Credit: Microsoft)

Application updates will be incremental

Microsoft has also improved application updates, thanks to containerized packaging. There will be three types: native containers for UWP applications that will provide better performance and longer battery life; MSIX containers offering great compatibility with existing applications, as well as a robust installation / uninstallation procedure. Without forgetting the Win 32 container that we will discuss a little later.

When an application is downloaded, the hashes of each of the components will be compared to the update. If an item (eg the app icon) is unchanged, the update will not be downloaded, thus saving bandwidth. Even if a component is downloaded, it will be divided into blocks and only the modified ones will be downloaded. Better: the blocks can be recovered and then merged with the application later, in the background. This incremental modification approach should also be used for patching Windows 10X.

Farewell, registry cleaner

UWP apps on Windows 10X will only be able to access certain libraries, like the one for photos which will only be able to access your photo library, like UWP apps on Windows 10, for example. ‘operation, but only through a clear set of APIs, ”emphasizes Andrew Clinick. He adds, “no more need to manipulate the registry to optimize the OS and therefore no more need for registry cleaners.”

Goodbye, data corruption

Microsoft had promised it with Windows 10 S and did it again with Windows 10X. The original code and subsequent updates to the operating system and applications will be clean and tidy. So there shouldn’t be any “bad data” causing endpoints to perform poorly over time. “We’re going to have sustained performance, making sure that the first day’s performance remains intact throughout the life of the machine.”

The Win32 container, an innovation at the service of legacy applications

The way Windows 10X treats old Win32 apps is one of the big innovations of the new OS. To achieve this, Microsoft uses virtualization. Each Windows 10X application works in its own container, intended to protect the OS against potential malware. But the Win32 container exists distinctly, as a kind of vault for legacy Win32 code. The container contains all the Win32 applications that you want to keep (system utilities, old games, etc.). There is even a traditional Windows directory tree, with its own kernel, drivers, and registry.

Explanation of how the Win32 container works. (Photo Credit: Microsoft)

The Win32 container is essentially a virtual machine, but with greater integration, much lower latency, and access to more resources on the Windows 10X host than a VM. Win32 application in Windows 10X does not launch directly. Instead, the OS creates “proxy” applications in the Windows 10X host operating system, essentially using an RDP-like interface to access the secure Win32 application in the Win32 container. Microsoft promises performance almost on par with native apps, but slowdowns are likely to be expected. In addition, it will be necessary to be vigilant on the compatibility with certain peripherals such as the keyboard, the mouse, the styluses. Windows 10X may restrict some of this hardware by believing that it is not standardized or that it is deemed sensitive to privacy, such as cameras and microphone. On these latter cases, authorization will be required in the Win32 application to use them.

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