Chromebooks have been making impressive gains in territory Microsoft typically regards as its own space, and Redmond has a plan to do something about it. But trying to crack the Chromebook and education market isn’t just a matter of slapping Windows 10 on to lower-end hardware — there are particular concerns that these education users have, there are cost issues to consider, and the OS has to be tailored to meet the specific needs of the students that will use it.
To meet this need, Microsoft is reportedly working on a new version of its Windows 10 OS, dubbed “Lite.” Not Windows 10 Lite — just Lite. That’s the word from Sam Davis, a reporter who has long covered Microsoft. According to Davis, Windows 10 S was killed to make room for Lite, which will only run Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and Windows Store downloads.
According to Davis, ‘Lite’ will be the only brand attached to the product. It’s being prepped to work with two designs — Centarus and Pegasus. Centaurus is a reference to the dual-screen devices that continue to pop up in patent applications and pretty much nowhere else, while Pegasus is intended for the various flavors of laptops we’re all familiar with. Goals for the OS include instant-on capability, long battery life, and simplistic updates. He describes the UI as “modernized, minimal, and refreshed.”
According to Davis, the UI won’t just be the standard Windows 10 option with some features locked away. The design is said to be “significantly simplified and targeted at simpler use cases.” Windowing will be supported but, as with Chromebooks, the OS will principally focus on one app at a time. Windows 10 will always be the OS to use for any actual desktop productivity.
It will be interesting to see what Microsoft fields and how the OS is received in its intended markets. The company hasn’t had much luck creating locked-down derivatives of its OS — Windows 10 S was broadly panned and the company eventually offered victims customers the chance to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Similarly, Windows RT was much disliked — again, in part, because people expected an OS experience that the device couldn’t actually offer.
Implementing a new UI and overall design paradigm could give Microsoft a fresh start in this space, especially if it’s clever about which core features of the Windows UI it keeps (to make the device friendlier and more approachable) and which it dumps in the name of creating different user expectations or just enabling a different set of features. It’ll also be interesting to see how the product performs in terms of battery life. Users often decry supposed bloat in modern operating systems, but seeing exactly where power is or isn’t being wasted by software is a complex endeavor. Assuming reviewers can find a way to set up an apples-to-apples comparison, it should be possible to compare Lite and Windows 10 on a host of metrics, including overall power efficiency.
Davis expects that Lite will keep Windows 10 S’ restrictions on apps, but much about the OS is still unknown. The company will probably have more to say about its efforts during Build next March.
- Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 S Will No Longer Be a Standalone Version
- Apple Targets Education Market With New $299 iPad
- Microsoft Reportedly Planning to Kill Windows 10 S in Upcoming Version Split