Windows 10X won’t support non-standard hardware


Don Sharpe
by Don Sharpe
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Non-standard software or hardware-installed drivers will not work on Windows 10X, Microsoft said in an explainer video. If such drivers are incompatible with the operating system that the software giant is developing for dual-screen form factors, the devices they are meant to install also will not work.

This limitation probably applies only to the first release of Windows 10X. So maybe a future version of the OS (or a Windows update) will support all PC hardware and drivers.

Win32 apps leverage a “fast path” to all standard hardware

Windows 10X supports all the hardware you usually work with on your PC, according to Microsoft. Compatible devices include your keyboard, mouse, DirectX graphics card, and onboard Ethernet.

Microsoft appreciates the fact there will be some useful Win32 apps running on Windows 10X. It has, therefore, provided a way for these applications to use host system resources, including input/output hardware. Windows 10X confines apps within containers for this to work.

Win32 is one of the containers, and apps in it are given a “fast-path” to Windows 10X hardware. Microsoft says that this container is something of a virtual machine. But unlike a VM, it boasts low latency, allowing super-fast exchanges between Win32 apps and Windows 10X resources such as networking, printing, and I/O devices.

You can control access to privacy-sensitive devices

Windows 10X designates certain hardware as privacy-sensitive, and it lets you decide whether to give your Win32 apps access to such tools. For example, you may control access to devices that capture audio/video, or you may turn off resources that can provide geospatial information.

However, you can only apply such restrictions at the entire Win 32 container level. Thus, if you turn the camera off, no app in this container may access the device.

Giving users a way to control their privacy is a great idea, but blanket access restrictions do not make a lot of sense here. It is not even clear why such controls apply at the app level in native containers, but at the highest level within the Win32 container.

To many users, real control means freedom to decide which specific Win32 apps can or cannot use particular host system resources.

Maybe Microsoft will address that in an advanced Windows 10X container architecture.