Microsoft releases Windows 10X emulator for developers to test apps

Windows 10X relies on tech like containers to improve compatibility with legacy apps

Microsoft will release its first Windows 10X emulator on February 11th, giving developers access to tools for testing apps on upcoming dual-screen devices.

Windows 10X, for the unfamiliar, is a variant of Windows 10 designed to work with foldable and dual-screen hardware like the Surface Neo tablet, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 and other devices coming from Dell, HP and Asus. Windows 10X features a slightly more modern look, interface improvements and a big change to the Start menu that removes Live Tiles.

You can download the emulator over on Microsoft’s Windows developer tools website, but be warned that the software is intended for developers. In other words, you’ll need to be familiar with Visual Studio, pre-release versions of Windows and much more to get it running.

Part of the emulator release is to help test new container technology that Microsoft will implement inside of Windows 10X. Container tech should allow classic win32 desktop apps to run alongside Universal Windows Apps (UWP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWA). While Microsoft hasn’t revealed specifics on the container tech, it is hosting a ‘developer day‘ that dives into the technical details.

Container tech should improve app compatibility

Ultimately, this container tech will be essential to Windows 10X and app compatibility. It means that all win32 apps run in a container — with some exceptions — which should ensure older apps behave correctly on dual-screen devices. Further, it should mitigate the hit on battery life and improve how apps work with the displays.

It’s worth noting that Edge and Office will use a ‘shim’ to support older APIs and won’t run in containers.

Further, while containerization will be helpful for Windows 10X, it won’t entirely mitigate app compatibility issues. Developers will still need to work through some issues. For example, the container works similar to a lightweight virtual machine and doesn’t include the full Windows OS. As such, some apps that want to write to the shell, like Dropbox, or that want to install drivers alongside the installer may have compatibility issues.

However, Microsoft aims to have most apps work out of the box.

With the release of the Windows 10X emulator, developers now have the tools to test and optimize their apps. Hopefully this means that when the first Windows 10X devices launch, the majority of apps do work out of the box.

Source: The Verge