Microsoft working on new ‘Andromeda’ desktop experience for Windows 10 devices

February 6, 2017

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Microsoft is working on a new desktop experience for Windows 10 devices, codenamed “Andromeda.” I teased Andromeda several months ago, but details regarding the project were lacking back then. Andromeda will actually be quite huge for Windows 10 Mobile, as it aims to introduce a new desktop experience that’s truly universal. Details regarding Andromeda is still scarce, but we have a pretty good idea about what Andromeda will likely be thanks to new info which appeared online today.

Even though Microsoft has been calling Windows 10 a truly universal OS (“OneCore“), that theortically is not really the case. Windows 10 devices have the universal OneCore, but Microsoft still has different shells that the company uses for Windows 10 devices, including mobile devices, the HoloLens, Xbox, IoT, and PCs. Mobile devices, for example, have a shell which is being used by devices such as the HoloLens and devices powered by Windows 10 IoT Core. But with Andromeda, Microsoft is bringing a new desktop experience to Windows 10 — which, in turn, is expected to bring significant improvements to Continuum for phones in Windows 10. This new desktop experience will bring things like multi-window support to Continuum, a full-featured taskbar, toast notifications, and an updated Action Center, along with an user-interface that looks almost exactly like the desktop in Windows 10 PCs. Microsoft actually gave an early look at these upcoming features back in Ignite 2016:

Andromeda may not sound huge yet, as it’s part of something bigger Microsoft has been working on for a while — and that is the new Composable Shell (aka CShell). Composable Shell, for those unfamiliar, is a new adaptive shell in Windows 10 which will allow the OS to adapt to the device it’s currently running on. Parts of Composable Shell are already in debug symbols in Windows 10, recently found byMicrosoft enthusiastWalkingCat.

What’s quite fascinating is the fact that Google is also working on a very similar project for Android — and that’s also codenamed “Andromeda”. AsWalkingCatclaims, Windows 10’s Andromeda is essentially the same thing as Android’s Andromeda:

Needless to say, don’t get too excited about Andromeda just yet. It’s unlikely Microsoft will talk about its plans for the Composable Shell or Andromeda until Build 2017, which is still a few months away. Additionally, both Composable Shell and Andromeda are unlikely to show up before Windows 10 “Redstone 3” which is expected to arrive later this year. Considering that Microsoft talked about some of the upcoming improvements for Continuum on phones back at Ignite 2016, there’s a small chance we will see Composable Shell arrive with the Windows 10 Creators Update (aka “Redstone 2”). But of course, Microsoft’s internal plans are always subject to change so take this with a grain of salt.

Editor’s note: The article initially stated that Windows 10 has different cores, but that’s incorrect and the article has been updated to fix that. We are sorry for the error.

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