Microsoft will delay dual-screen Windows 10X devices until 2021

Coronavirus has likely hampered demand for pricey new gadgets, especially unproven ones.

Microsoft is expected to delay the release of devices running Windows 10X, its new version of Windows designed for dual-screen computers. ZDNet also reports that the company pushed back the release of its Surface Neo dual-screen tablet. The moves are likely consequences of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus that has battered the global economy.

According to the report, Windows 10X may still see the light of day in 2020, but just on a traditional two-in-one like the Surface and not any fancy new dual-screen computer. Microsoft also won't allow any third-party companies to release dual-screen Windows devices this year. It's worth noting that Microsoft never revealed much about the Surface Neo in the first place besides offering a brief demo. We didn't know whether it would be released this year anyway, so maybe the company didn't push back its release at all!

Premium devices? In this economy? — The COVID-19 outbreak has no less than devastated the U.S. economy, with an unemployment rate that economists say is now pushing above an astonishing 10 percent, up from 4.4 percent in March. It's believed that at its current pace, the unemployment rate could hit 15 percent soon. Which is all to say: a lot of people feel they're walking on eggshells, and are watching their spending closely.

By focusing on two-in-one devices, the theory is that Microsoft could be hoping to release some lower-end computers to compete with Google's Chromebooks that are wildly popular in education for their affordability and ease of use. Many of those now come in laptop form-factors with built-in touchscreens so they can be folded into tablet mode. With schools around the country closed in favor of distance learning, access to a computer is more crucial for students than ever before.

Windows 10x's education play — Besides being optimized for dual-screen devices, Windows 10X is supposed to be more lightweight and battery efficient than the standard Windows 10 operating system. Applications run in containers separate from the rest of the system, and Windows can better manage and prevent them from slowing your computer say, when you're trying to boot it up. Since apps are isolated, they can't install junk like malware onto your computer that can also slow it down.

Such improvements could make the OS operate better on low-end hardware — though fortunately most standard Windows applications are still supported unlike on Windows 10S, where only a limit selection of desktop apps worked.

Considering how quickly the outbreak escalated, and how furiously layoffs have come, releasing affordable devices instead would be a smart move. We just entered the month of April and new research out says that more than 30 percent of renters missed their payments for the month. The savings people have look much less impressive when there's no income coming in. Even if someone does still have their job, they're surely less willing to throw out cash for premium devices right now.