Windows 10X first started as a version of Windows 10 designed for dual-screen devices.
It was supposed to launch with Microsoft Surface Neo, a tablet-like device with two separate 9-inch screens that can be opened to form a full 13-inch screen.
And Microsoft revealed last year that it is redesigning Windows 10X for single-screen devices, such as laptops.
Although the company has spent years distinguishing Windows 10X as intended for dual-screen and foldable devices, it now looks more like a Chrome OS than ever before.
The latest leaked version represents the semi-final form of the system supposed to arrive via devices similar to Chromebooks later this year.
Not everyone can upgrade to Windows 10X, nor is it an update appearing for current devices, it ships only through new devices, and it is a lightweight version of Windows designed for those who tend to buy Chromebooks.
Windows 10X looked a bit like Chrome OS on dual-screen devices, but it is now clear that it is designed for single-screen laptops instead.
And Microsoft has simplified nearly every area of Windows within Windows 10X to the point where it appears to be the web portal rather than the gateway to Windows applications.
The Start button is now centered on the taskbar with the Start menu that acts as a launcher, and it does not contain Live Tiles within Windows 10, instead, there is a list of recent applications and documents.
You can also search for applications, documents, or even web content through Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
The comparisons to Chrome OS are immediately apparent here with the launcher and the focus on web applications.
You can also install PWA Progressive Web Apps from the built-in Chromium Edge browser and pin it to the taskbar.
Also, this taskbar under Windows 10X is also an area of the operating system that has been greatly simplified.
And you might be used to seeing a lot of app icons within the system notification area, but it isn’t there in Windows 10X.
Instead, there is a simple action center that displays the time and pops up to reveal quick settings, such as: turning off the device, enabling a VPN, plugging in screens, or managing volume.
This also includes access to notifications and an updated tool to control media playback.
You can drag and drop apps to run them side by side, but there’s no way to allow apps to freely resize them, and as a result, the middle button that you used to see in the upper-right side of the apps has been removed – which toggles between full screen and window mode.
And Windows 10X laptops have gesture trackpad support for multi-tasking applications.
Microsoft is also working on a recent version of Windows 10X File Explorer designed as a way to access OneDrive cloud files, but you can also manage downloaded files or files within a USB storage device.
And there’s no way to access local files in this new File Explorer, as Windows 10X is primarily designed for cloud storage.
And it looks like Microsoft might not be shipping desktop app support in Windows 10X, at least at first.
Microsoft built container technology to run traditional desktop applications in a virtual machine, and this technology was originally designed to ensure that old applications work properly with dual-screen devices and not exhaust the battery life or interfere with how applications are displayed across multiple screens.
Microsoft is still developing this container technology, and it appears as a developer only in this version of Windows 10X.
This could mean that end-users will not be able to install regular desktop applications via Windows 10X, and in both cases it is clear that Microsoft is focusing on a host of applications from the Microsoft Store in addition to web applications.
Microsoft has not yet officially confirmed the date of shipment of the Windows 10X operating system, or the manufacturers of laptops that may launch devices with this version of the operating system.
It is clear that this is a direct attempt to challenge the Chromebook devices, after Microsoft tried for years to put Windows 10S as an alternative to Chrome OS, but the project failed, and turned to S Mode only.