The success of Google’s Chromebook hardware and Chrome OS software wasn’t an inevitability, but the ease of use they afford ended up allowing Google to carve out a niche in a very crowded PC marketplace. Ever since Chrome OS entered the scene, we’ve been waiting for Microsoft to come out with its own pared down version of Windows, but its half-hearted attempts (Windows 10 S, Windows RT) have all fallen flat.
Those failures haven’t stopped Microsoft though, as Petri on Monday reported that the company is working on “a new version of Windows that may not actually be Windows.” Based on the documentation he has seen, Petri’s Brad Sams believes that Windows Lite — the new OS — is Microsoft’s answer to Chrome OS.
According to Sams, Windows Lite will only run Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, while removing all other functionality. He says that this is the first “truly lightweight version of Windows” – one which won’t run in enterprise or small business environments, and may not even be available for purchase on its own. Just like Chrome OS, Windows Lite will have to be pre-installed by an OEM.
Sams claims Windows 10 S was retired to make room for Windows Lite, which might run on Qualcomm’s next CPU. “The goal of Windows Lite is to make it super lightweight, instant on, always connected, and can run on any type of CPU,” says Sams. “Knowing that this week Qualcomm will announce a new generation of Snapdragon that can run Windows significantly better than the 835 [at the Snapdragon Tech Summit 2018], fully expect to see this new chip powering many of the first devices running the new OS.”
As for the timing, the plan is to announce Windows Lite (or whatever Microsoft ends up calling it) at next year’s Build 2019 developer conference, but that may change. Whenever it is unveiled, it will likely be flanked by new hardware as well, and Sams hints that this could possibly double as the coming-out party for the Andromeda dual-screen phone or the newly-rumored dual-screen 2-in-1, which is being referred to as Centaurus.