You've heard of Windows RT. You may even be familiar with an S mode in Windows 10. But do you know anything about Windows Lite? There's not much to know right now, but what is said to be Microsoft's next operating system is fascinating.
In short, the rumored operating system could be Microsoft's lightest Windows to date, which is said to offer credible competition to Google's Chrome OS and Chromebooks. It can even launch without the longstanding Windows branding and power an incoming wave of Windows devices with dual screens.
Here's everything we know about Windows Lite so far. Before we go any further, however, please note: The Windows Lite we are discussing is a future form of Microsoft's operating system. It's not the unsupported stripped-down version of Windows 10 (or 12) that can be found through some download sites. Digital Trends absolutely does not recommend installing unofficial operating systems or patches.
What is Windows Lite?
Windows Lite is said to be a lightweight version of Windows that is both faster and leaner than previous versions. Similar to Chrome OS, it will reportedly rely heavily on Progressive Web Apps, which act as offline apps but run through an online service. In fact, Microsoft has a strong tendency towards PWAs in its new Chromium-based Edge browser.
However, Lite also runs UWP apps from the Microsoft Store, much like Chrome OS supports Android apps. According to reports, Lite is even designed for devices with two screens – even the Surface Centarus, which has not yet made its appearance.
Building on developments by Microsoft with its Always Connected laptops, Windows Lite has reportedly turned on instantly, always stays connected, and works with any type of CPU to provide a variety of options for manufacturers and consumers. Given that Qualcomm CPUs have proven to be very capable of extending battery life beyond 20 hours on some laptops, we wouldn't be surprised if Windows Lite laptops are powered when they arrive.
A supposedly big part of the new "Lite" operating system is that it doesn't resemble Windows as we know it on PCs. A brand new user interface aimed at modern form and function versus legacy support could give the platform a fresh look.
A previous model by Petris Brad Sams shed some light on what Lite would look like and featured a clean, modern user interface with the start button moved to the center of the screen. The model also includes a search box reminiscent of Chrome OS, listing suggested and pinned applications.
Finally, Windows Lite appears to be part of Microsoft's Windows Core OS (WCOS) initiative. Put simply, WCOS is a universal foundation with which Microsoft can easily create any Windows variant. Lite was formerly part of the WCOS range of products (also known as Microsoft.Lite) but was either removed by June 2019 or incorporated into a new product called ModernPC along with Centaurus.
If at some point Lite proves to be real and effective, it could theoretically put a nail in the S-mode coffin, but we'll have to wait and see.
When will Windows Lite be available?
Microsoft made no official announcement about Windows Lite, only Brad Sams of Petri provides a semblance of know-how about it.
However, if Windows Insider builds actually show hints of the new operating system, then the Lean operating system may still be a long way off. Microsoft certainly has Windows 10 in S mode and its long-rumored Core OS platform to fall back on when creating it.
Rumor has it that Windows Lite, like Chrome OS, will not be available individually and will only come pre-installed on certain laptops aimed at home users and students. It must not be made available to the corporate sector.
Right now we have very little to do about whether or when Windows Lite will be available.
Will it be called Windows Lite?
At this point in time, the rumored operating system is known simply as "Lite". This is how it appears in the files of some Windows Insider builds that have not been effectively stripped of their mentions.
Petris Sams believes that when it is released it may not even have the Windows branding, giving up the connection to the decades-old platform. A separate report from Windows Central states that Microsoft internally calls Windows Lite "Santori".
However, manufacturers are unable to promote and market their products without telling their potential customers the underlying software. The operating system must be named somethingand using the Windows brand will most likely sell a lot more products than any mysterious name no one has come across before.
Nonetheless, the mix of a fully updated user interface and a potential name change may very well appeal to a wide range of users who have previously exited Windows or found it to be overly working or not user friendly.
Much like Chrome OS built on the familiarity and awareness of Chrome browser users, Microsoft's "Lite" or whatever you call it could go the same route: a browser-like structure with a simple, modernized user interface and a significant reliance on web-based ones Applications. If you're looking to find out where Microsoft could be leading with its Windows Lite innovation, the Chromium version of Edge is for you.