Windows Lite: Everything you need to know

Can Windows Lite take on Chrome OS in the streamlined notebook space?

windows 10 october update

You’ve heard of Windows RT, you may be aware of Windows 10 S. But do you know anything about Windows Lite? There isn’t currently much to know, but the alleged next operating system from Microsoft is an intriguing one. We’ve heard that it might be the most lightweight Windows yet, designed to offer credible competition to Google’s Chrome OS and Chromebooks. It may even launch without the longstanding Windows branding and could power an incoming wave of dual-screen Windows devices.

Here’s everything we know about Windows Lite so far.

What is Windows Lite?

Before we go any further, please make note: The Windows Lite we are discussing is about a future form of the operating system from Microsoft. It is not the unsupported stripped back version of Windows 10 that can be found through some download sites. Digital Trends does not recommend installing unofficial operating systems or patches.

Windows Lite is alleged to be a lightweight version of Windows that will be both faster and leaner than previous Windows operating systems. A little like Windows 10 S, it will reportedly only run UWP applications downloaded from the Microsoft store and Progressive Web Apps, which operate like an offline app but run through an online service.  According to recent reports, it is also is designed for dual-screen devices. That could be perhaps for the Surface Centarus, which is planned for later in 2019.

Building off of Microsoft’s developments with its Always Connected laptops, Windows Lite will reportedly be instant on, always connected, and will work with any sort of CPU to provide a wide array of options for manufacturers and consumers. Considering Qualcomm CPUs have proven very capable at extending battery life beyond 20 hours in some laptops, we wouldn’t be surprised if the recently announced Snapdragon 8cx ended up in Windows Lite laptops in the second half of 2019.

A reportedly big part of the new “Lite” OS is that it will not look like Windows. A brand-new user interface that targets modern form and function over legacy support could give the platform a fresh look and feel. A previous mockup from Petri’s Brad Sams had shed some light on what Lite would look like, showing off a clean modern interface, with the Start button moved to the center of the screen. A search box reminiscent of Chrome OS is also present in the mockup, listing suggested and pinned applications.

What this means for major Windows projects, like the long-rumored Polaris desktop version of Core OS, remains to be seen. If Lite proves real and effective, it could in theory put a nail in the coffin of Windows 10 S, but we’ll need to wait and see.

When will Windows Lite be available?

Microsoft hasn’t made any kind of official announcement about Windows Lite, with only Petri.com’s Brad Sams providing any semblance of know-how about it. However, if, as he says, hints of the new OS are appearing in Windows Insider builds, the lean OS may be quite far along in development. Microsoft certainly has Windows 10 S and its long-rumored Core OS platform to draw from in its creation.

For now, we have very little to go on about if or when Windows Lite will be available, but it wouldn’t surprise us if Microsoft made some kind of announcement at the Microsoft Build 2019 conference in May. Current rumors suggest the OS will not be purchasable individually and will only come pre-installed on specific laptops targeting home and student users. It is thought likely to not be available to enterprises.

Will it be called Windows Lite?

At this time, the rumored operating system is simply known as “Lite.” That’s how it appears in the files within some Windows Insider builds which haven’t been effectively scrubbed of their mentions. Petri’s Sams believes that it may not even sport the Windows branding when released, ditching its ties to the decades-old platform. A separate report from Windows Central indicates that Windows Lite is known as “Santori” internally at Microsoft.

The combination of a new user interface and name change could go a long way to attracting those who have sworn off Windows, or see Windows as too fully featured or complicated for their use. Just as Chrome OS builds off of the familiarity of the Chrome browser, Microsoft’s “Lite,” or whatever it ends up being called, may look to overhaul the idea of what an operating system should look and feel like, heading in a new direction for the company.

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