Microsoft is secretly building Polaris, a slimmer, more modern version of Windows

Microsoft Windows 10
Microsoft’s latest internal project is reportedly a new pared-down version of Windows code-named Polaris. This new iteration isn’t a successor to Windows 10, not in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s an alternative operating system more like iOS or Chrome OS — a lightweight OS designed for devices like ultra-mobile laptops, 2-in-1s, and tablets. And according to Windows Central, it could be the future of Windows.

So what is it, exactly? Good question. Last January, we reported on efforts to develop an “adaptive shell” called C-Shell for Windows 10 so that the platform can properly scale out across PC, mobile, console, HoloLens, and embedded devices. Different products running Windows would use different iterations of that shell. And according to noted Microsoft-watcher Mary Jo Foley, Polaris is Microsoft’s effort to build a desktop Shell using C-Shell to run on top of the Windows Core OS.

Maybe, maybe not. Here’s another theory: Polaris could take over for Windows 10 S, the pared-down student version of Windows 10 that Microsoft is using to test the lightweight OS waters.

Windows 10 S could be seen as something of a trial balloon here, with Microsoft angling toward the education market to see how a pared-down Windows experience would go over with the average user.

Polaris reportedly aims to strip out all the legacy components that make Windows 10 a full-featured operating system in favor of a system designed around the basics — like Chrome OS. An operating system designed for people who typically work out of a web browser. The new Windows Polaris would be quicker, more nimble, and carry a lot less baggage.

Polaris would, according to Window Central, be built entirely on Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, or UWP, making it a much more hospitable environment to existing UWP apps and potentially offer battery life and performance gains. (The world’s reaction to UWP has been … somewhat mixed.)

“The current Windows Shell is one of the major legacy components that Microsoft is replacing in Polaris; it is also stripping out legacy, unneeded Win32 components and apps like Notepad or Paint in favor of a UWP experience, just like Windows 10 Mobile,” Windows Central reports.

It’s an interesting move and it certainly makes sense with Microsoft’s recent shift toward unifying its Windows experience across all of its platforms, but it’s unclear whether or not Polaris would end up seeing widespread adoption. Currently, Chromebooks offer a unique niche for lightweight on-the-go computing, and Windows 10 exists in its full version on laptops and mobile devices up and down the price spectrum without any issues. Pulling out functionality in favor of marginal gains in performance and battery life might not appeal to the average laptop, tablet, or 2-in-1 user.

Computing

Microsoft turns on the lights with a new white theme in Windows 10 update

Microsoft is introducing a new light theme in the upcoming version of Windows 10 and is currently beta testing the change with Windows Insiders. The clean-looking theme brings a much-needed facelift to Windows.
Computing

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience.
Computing

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Gaming

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Computing

Multi-monitor issues? Here's how to resolve them

If you're running into multi-monitor problems, you're not alone. Two screens are very useful, but they can present some difficulties. Here are some common multi-monitor problems and how to fix them.
Computing

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

The best MacBook deals for November 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Computing

All the best deals on Surface products for Black Friday

A number of retailers are discounting Surface devices for Black Friday. Be it the Surface Pro 2017, Surface Pro 6, or the Surface Go, here's a look at how (and where) you can save big on Surface this holiday season.
Gaming

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.