back to article Microsoft puts dual-screen devices and Windows 10X in the too-hard basket

Microsoft has repurposed Windows 10X, the new cut of its OS introduced in October 2019 to run on dual-screen devices. When announcing Windows 10X Microsoft said it "is designed for new dual-screen PCs and not as an OS upgrade if you already own a PC." Microsoft also suggested that users who put the OS in harness with dual- …

  1. Wibble

    Keyboard & trackpad location

    In the beginning, laptops originally had the keyboard at the front of the laptop, with trackballs all over (even located on the screen on the Compaq LTE). Apple's Powerbook 100 was the first laptop where the keyboard was at the back, with wrist rests and a trackball between. Masses of advantages, not least ease of use and comfort. Trackpads became normal, replacing nipples and trackballs. Almost all laptops follow this defacto standard configuration... because it works.

    Changing to put the keyboard at the front and a giant secondary display out of eyeline and removing the trackpad doesn't do anything for usability, especially if on a lap (legs sloping, wrist rests hold the laptop in place). Anyone with a modern Apple Macbook Pro will know the limited use of the trackbar above the keyboard -- useless for a touch typist.

    Maybe, just maybe, a grown up in Microsoft woke up and smelt the coffee before the children wasted enormous effort on a fundamentally flawed design?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

      @wibble

      Your 'children' comment hit the nail square, they appear not to have anyone in the design chain who can remember how the current defacto was arrived at, mostly trial & error with a bit of carpal tunnel syndrome.

      It's also possible the design process was just a slightly technical marketing meeting with no keyboards in sight.

    2. Paradroid

      Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

      Yes - and this is a very interesting point about experimentation vs refining proven designs. Nobody wants to stifle new ideas, but we keep getting too much change for changes sake. UX is the worst example, where a new generation of designers threw away decades of progress in favour of a "clean" look.

      Desktop OS makers need to be really careful about fragmentation too at this point. There's already a lack of decent native software, so trying to get traction on niche hardware designs like dual screen Windows 10X devices is going to be a quite a challenge.

    3. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

      I want the nipple!

      (Registered by IBM but surely designed by a bloke. Bright red too!)

      1. OssianScotland
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

        Thats not what I called it (at least when I wasn't in female company)

        Icon: for obvious reasons....

        1. PhilipN Silver badge

          Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

          My (Scots) grandfather waxed lyrical about drinking a bottle of Scotch from a long tube with a teat on the end. I wondered for years whether he said “teat” or ...... I was very young.

    4. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

      " Anyone with a modern Apple Macbook Pro will know the limited use of the trackbar above the keyboard -- useless for a touch typist."

      Depends how long your fingers are....

      Not that I use mine, I'm generally tethered to my monitors etc, and using an external keyboard/trackpad anyway.

    5. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

      Re: " Anyone with a modern Apple Macbook Pro will know the limited use of the trackbar above the keyboard -- useless for a touch typist."

      While I have looked at (and lusted after) the Macbooks with touch bar, I haven't bought one. The problem is, while I am not trained, I touch type. As such, I don't generally look at the keyboard I am using. The problem with putting any form of screen on the keyboard is that it forces the user to alternate looking at the keyboard and the screen, which, ergonomically, probably isn't good. That said, in my experience, most laptops, from an ergonomic point of view aren't that good anyway.

      I do think that IBM/Lenovo had the right idea, when they mounted a small secondary LCD on the side of the main LCD in their Thinkpad W700ds, but mucked it up because, by all accounts, the small LCD they used was awful.

      Still, we do seem to be getting an awful lot of portable, a4 size external monitors that use battery, and are small enough to go in a laptop bag or rucksack, which could be handy when working with a laptop, although you would still need a reasonable size desk or table to use one. No sticking the whole setup on the fold down tray table on a train or plane..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

        "Still, we do seem to be getting an awful lot of portable, a4 size external monitors that use battery, and are small enough to go in a laptop bag or rucksack, which could be handy when working with a laptop"

        Something Apple has made standard for its laptops and tablets...

    6. Malcolm 1

      Re: Keyboard & trackpad location

      I think you may have misinterpreted the photo there - the keyboard is a completely separate piece which can be moved to the top or bottom of the "lower" screen, or removed entirely and used wirelessly. When located at the top of the screen the bottom part became a giant trackpad, when removed entirely the whole screen became a second touchscreen monitor, identical to the main one.

  2. JRS

    Dual Screen Woes

    Multiple screens needs improving on regular Windows 10. Why do apps open up on different monitors, and dialog boxes pop up off-screen where they're difficult to track down or move. All too frequently I'm jumping back to single screen mode just to find them.

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: Dual Screen Woes

      This! Although I love multiple screens, apps frequently open on the wrong screen, if I close an Excel sheet on screen number 3, a different spreadsheet steals focus on screen 2 (why?). Custom screen scaling also causes problems for multi-monitor setups (use a custom value and it must be applied to all screens). Hence, plenty MS could do first to improve regular W10 for this.

      Saying that, improving W10 and fixing its various faults has never been a priority for MS anyway, so I'm not surprised here.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Saying that, improving W10 and fixing its various faults has never been a priority for MS anyway

        Bob, the one man doing that job is currently furloughed...

        1. DJV Silver badge

          "the one man doing that job is currently furloughed"

          I think you overestimated the staffing level of that department by one.

    2. Wibble

      Re: Dual Screen Woes

      You're missing the point about it being a completely different model; applications need to behave in a radically different way, it's not just another screen. Look at Apple's TouchBar, where applications will need to present new menus.

      For example, you could locate the "Ribbon" down there to free up the main screen for content.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: you could locate the "Ribbon"

        We'd need a screen oh... about half the depth of the main one for that (sic).

        At least it would be better than trying to use Office (with ribbon) on a laptop with a 1440x768 screen. It seemed that about 1/3rd of the screen disappeared behind the god awful thing. Not good for productivity.

        1. Boothy Silver badge

          Re: you could locate the "Ribbon"

          On 1600 x 900 here, which is at least marginally better than 768 I used to have, but not by much.

          Even when in the office (where was that again, I forget?) the company had bought what must have been the cheapest external 15 inch monitors they could get hold of, not sure what they were, but they were not 1080p I know that for sure.

          So glad I'm at home and can use my gaming monitor as an external, 3440 x 1440 makes working on extra wide Excel spreadsheets a breeze, or three A4 Word docs (or 3 pages) open at the same time, at full size. Although sharing a screen in a meeting, not so good! (I just share the laptop screen instead). I just stick Skype (aka Lync) and Outlook on the laptop screen.

          Business laptops really aught to be 1080p minimum, 1440p preferable (in a large enough form to matter).

          1. OssianScotland

            Re: you could locate the "Ribbon"

            One think Microsoft got right with the Surface Pro range was the screen resolution - 3000x2000 for the Surface book and just over 2700 x 1800 for the Pro 4 and above. A "mere" 1080P is absolutely awful to work with now.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: you could locate the "Ribbon"

          I just collapse the ribbon and use the menu - but, of course, Microsoft only kept the menu for the Mac versions (where Apple has a permanent menu bar at the top of the screen, a menu that changes according to which window has focus).

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    3. Timmy B

      Re: Dual Screen Woes

      Even MS can't get multiple screens to work right in applications that you would expect to run on PCs with them. As a test - try to restart a SQL server from SQL Server management studio if you have 3 screens. I get the first confirmation on one screen, the second on another and the admin request on the third! Priceless!

    4. Paradroid

      Re: Dual Screen Woes

      This is exactly why I don't use dual screens. I totally appreciate the advantages but the OS quirks gets in the way too much. I find I can work quicker with a single screen and heavy use of Alt-Tab, which works the way you expect it to when there's only one screen.

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Dual Screen Woes

      Windows already does dual monitors, a main monitor, hotpluging monitors, touch screens, and a virtual keyboard. It's all there, it's just not quite right and not linked together right.

      It can't be beyond the wit of man to use all that to get the effect they want they achieve for these devices... unless perhaps the dependencies are horrific.

    6. lsces

      Re: Dual Screen Woes

      Why is it such a problem these days to do multiple screens? I started using Windows98 for a project simply because it simply worked across 16 screens OUT OF THE BOX. Even Linux seems to have lost the plot in handling just two monitors today. I can't run my 4 screen wallpapers across the monitors which used to work perfectly. Just what is gone wrong with any 'improvements' these days ... nothing seems to improve at all?

  3. LDS Silver badge

    X like in Chrome...

    Expect a Windows which can't run almost nothing locally and always needs to be tethered to a cloud something to work - while slurping more data than it does now.

    Next, they will connect you to the cloud as well, don't know if in a Borg or Matrix-like way.

    1. Wibble
      Gimp

      Re: X like in Chrome...

      Why no gimp icon?

    2. Timmy B

      Re: X like in Chrome...

      "Expect a Windows which can't run almost nothing locally"

      oooooh kaaaayyy - I'm sure that makes sense somewhere!

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: X like in Chrome...

        How do you read "we will share how we will enable developers to build applications that seamlessly enable cloud-powered virtualization""?

        And "pivot our focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices that leverage the power of the cloud to help our customers work, learn and play in new ways."

        1. Timmy B

          Re: X like in Chrome...

          My issue was with "can't run almost nothing locally"

          That means: can run many things locally.

  4. Paradroid

    It felt gimmicky

    The fact that they've pivoted away from dual screen just reinforces my concern that it was a gimmick all along, just something to differentiate and try to generate some interest.

    I'm much more interested in the OS though. With the mess they've been making if Windows 10 it is time to try something different. My SP7 feels like great hardware let down by poor quality software that I don't completely trust, so if there's a way to install it cleanly on that I'll be all over it.

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: It felt gimmicky

      "Pivoted"? You mean - oh crap too hard, look puppies!

  5. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Bluetooth

    Can't believe Bluetooth has got to version 5.2 and no-one's thought to make it a profile that works on a headset without making the audio sound like arse.

  6. Bibbit

    Bluetooth?

    Don’t knock fully functioning Bluetooth. My 2012 MBP hopes to get one for Christmas, finally.

  7. mdubash

    Mangled language

    "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." WTAF does that mean?

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: WTAF does that mean?

      It means it's time for bullshit bingo, I'd say!

    2. Press any key

      Re: Mangled language

      It means the person that wrote the release has an MBA

    3. Paradroid

      Re: Mangled language

      I thought exactly the same thing, its just code for "we completely fucked up out strategy and need to totally rewrite it, and think we can get away with blaming it on Coronavirus".

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: Mangled language

        I thought exactly the same thing, its just code for "we completely fucked up out strategy and need to totally rewrite it, and think we can get away with blaming it on Coronavirus".I thought exactly the same thing, its just code for "we completely fucked up out strategy and need to totally rewrite it, and think we can get away with blaming it on Coronavirus".

        Just think, without the virus, they might have run with this (at least until another RT moment).

        Must be down to saner heads at home on a laptop with a cat on the lap, and not subject to regular marketing bund meetings or company stand-up rallys.

  8. Boothy Silver badge
    Pint

    ...a more streamlined way to pair Bluetooth devices in Windows

    • Right click Bluetooth icon in tray and select "Add a Bluetooth Device". Sounds easy enough so far.
    • Wait for new Bluetooth window to open.
    • Make sure Bluetooth is 'On' hmm mkay.
    • Okay, now click "Add Bluetooth or other device". erm, didn't we do this already?
    • Okay, another window opened called 'Add a Device".
    • Now click "Bluetooth", hmm, are we going in circles?
    • Wait for your device to show up, click it and then click 'Connect'!

    I can't see any way this could possible be streamlined! What possible steps could be considered superfluous and be removed? I just don't see it myself, mkay.

    Icon, because I want one, in a PUB with friends! :-/

    Scratch that, I NEED one!

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: ...a more streamlined way to pair Bluetooth devices in Windows

      Personally, I wish they would upgrade the vanilla fall-back Bluetooth service to where it will automatically receive files sent via Bluetooth, instead of having to go into the Bluetooth settings and explicitly tell it to receive files each time. From what I can gather, Microsoft left that functionality out of their service and expects the driver to provide it. But the drivers for my craptastic Dell Latitude do not.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: ...a more streamlined way to pair Bluetooth devices in Windows

      BT on an Android seems a little easier...

      (that might be a lesson to be learned by Microsoft)

  9. MGJ

    Maybe

    There just isnt any demand for flexible mobile devices when everyone has stopped travelling and is enjoying working from home with a big old proper screen and keyboard now attached to their laptop, which has become a second screen.

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