Microsoft is looking to bolster the install base and appeal of Windows 10on future dual-screen and foldable PCs with a new lightweight version of the OS code-named Windows 10 Lite. The company may also release new flagship hardware this year as a way to spotlight the newer, streamlined OS.
That’s according to a new report from The Verge, which takes into account multiple sources close to Microsoft and substantiates numerous other existing rumors.
The concept of a “Windows Lite” has been making the rounds for months. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley has been trying to make sense of the constant development whispers and numerous code-names, and in December Petri’s Brad Sams revealed the project as being designed to crush Google’s Chrome OS. In a follow-up piece, Sams published this mockupof what the future Windows Lite OS may look like.
The Verge report backs up the validity of that mockup, and also reinforces the likelihood of all these rumors being true.
Looking at the rumor mill with a wide lens, it appears Microsoft is developing Windows 10 Lite to initially appeal to users with less demanding daily needs — the very same audience that’s embracing Chrome OS in droves. But with foldable phones like the Huawei Mate Xquickly becoming all the rage, Windows 10 Lite will also feel at home on a future wave of foldable PCs — an initiative Intel is trying to get off the ground. One of these devices may be Microsoft’s “Centaurus,” a dual-screen foldable PC allegedly deep in development at Microsoft HQ.
The problem is that Centaurus is currently an exciting device without a sensible OS to install onto it. Foldable or dual-screen phones make sense, because Android and iOS are already designed with that form factor and mostly exclusive touch-based interaction in mind. A dual-screen tablet like Microsoft’s scrapped Andromeda? Well, that makes a lot less sense without a leaner, highly optimized OS built with the form factor in mind.
Windows 10 isn’t that. Window RT wasn’t that either. And Windows Mobile was too restrictive to even show up to a party like this.
What Microsoft needs, then, is a Windows OS with stripped-down functionality designed to be as adaptable and future-proof as possible. It also needs to run equally well on high-end machines as well as ARM-based devices and low-cost, low-end laptops.
In my view, this is an inevitability. This year the phone industry has begun a giant leap forward with mainstream, dual-screen foldable devices. Sure, they’re expensive. But they’re also exciting. We’ve seen glimpses of this future thanks to Lenovo‘s Yoga Book c930 and especially Project Precog from ASUS.
If Intel and Microsoft, in addition to influential OEMs like Dell and Lenovo are going to push forward into a new generation of PC design with exciting form factors, those form factors need an OS that compliments them.