Developing for Windows 10X and the Surface Neo

The wraps are slowly coming off a new generation of Windows

Developing for Windows 10X and the Surface Neo

Microsoft’s next generation of Windows has been teased for some time. The company started several years ago with rumors of a composable shell and a re-engineering of the Windows user space, going by the internal name WCOS (Windows Core OS). Two versions of WCOS-based OSes were announced: a now much-delayed (and possibly cancelled) version for the Surface Hub 2 wall displays and one that powers the second-generation HoloLens.

With CEO Satya Nadella’s long-stated focus on ubiquitous and ambient computing as the next model for end-user devices, it’s not surprising that Microsoft is working on an OS that can shift personalities and user experiences based on the different operating models of the devices it powers. So when the company unveiled the Surface Neo dual-screen PC at the end of 2019 alongside the Android-based Surface Duo, it wasn’t surprising to find out that it would run a WCOS-based OS, with a UI designed for dual-screen and touch-based hardware: Windows 10X.

Windows 10X development tools

Since that launch there’s been a lot of conjecture about how we’d build and deliver applications for the new platform. We can stop guessing now. Not only has Microsoft discussed in detail its Windows 10X application strategy, it has also shipped the first cut of developer tools with a new SDK and a dual-screen emulator for testing code built using the Windows 10X APIs.

Getting started with the Windows 10X and Surface Neo tools is easy enough. You need a minimum of four cores on an Intel development system running on a current Windows Insider Fast Ring build, 19.0.19555 or later, with at least 8GB of RAM. This is likely to be 21H1 for most PCs, and is from the same set of build branches as the Windows 10X version used in the emulator. On top of that, install the latest Visual Studio 2019 Preview and the current Insider preview release of the Windows 10 SDK.

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