Microsoft wants to better compete with Google’s Chromebooks, so it is stripping back Windows to run on low-end Chromebook competitors as well as devices with two displays.
Windows 10 is the number one choice for the low end of the laptop market, but as we head into Chromebook and tablet pricing territory, Windows disappears to be replaced by Chrome OS and mobile operating systems. Microsoft intends to fix this by developing Windows Lite.
According to The Verge, Microsoft is working on a new version of Windows aimed at devices that will compete with Chromebooks, but also for a new category of dual-screen devices. Creating Windows Lite means stripping back many of the components of Microsoft’s full-fat operating system including the interface.
Think of Windows Lite as Microsoft’s take on Chrome OS. It requires a more modular approach to to the operating system, which is known as Windows Core OS with modules added or removed depending on the device being targeted. HoloLens 2, for example, runs on Windows Core OS, as will the Surface HUB 2X, but the modules used for each will vary to suit the hardware.
The interface will be familiar, but different due to the nature of the new devices. This will certainly be the case for dual-screen devices, but it’s unclear how different a Chromebook-like laptop would be beyond the limited hardware running the OS.
As to when we can expect to see these new devices, apparently it all depends on chip availability and PC vendors being willing to launch a new category of products. If they are, we could see them appear before the end of 2019.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has attempted to offer a cut down version of Windows in order to cater to the lower end of the market. Windows 10 S, and later 10S Mode, offered restricted functionality and apps could only be downloaded from the Microsoft Store. However, Windows Lite looks to be quite different, offering a version of Windows that suits a hardware platform well rather than cutting off access to features you can unlock by simply upgrading.