Microsoft is reportedly working on a new lightweight version of Windows 10 (again)

Bear with me, because this may sound a little familiar. Microsoft is reportedly working on a new OS, a stripped down version of Windows 10 that’s designed to run on devices with only 16GB of storage. No, this isn’t the same thing as Windows 10 S.

Microsoft is reportedly working on a new lightweight version of Windows 10 (again)

There’s no official word from Microsoft on the OS yet, but Windows 10 Lean, as it’s reportedly known, was first spotted by Twitter user @tfwboredom in the latest preview build of Redstone 5 – Microsoft’s next major version of Windows 10. According to the tweet, Windows 10 Lean is around 2GB smaller than Windows 10 Pro. 

Unlike Windows 10 S, which is aimed primarily at the education space and only lets you install software from the Microsoft Store, Windows 10 Lean is expected to run more like a legacy version of Windows. However, according to Windows Central, it’ll ditch one or two key features users don’t need on a device with such limited storage including the Registry Editor and Internet Explorer.

“More often than not, cheap, low-end tablets and laptops with 16GB of internal storage will find themselves stuck on the version of Windows 10 that those devices shipped with, because there’s not enough storage space to apply any new feature updates,” the site reports. “It is important for Microsoft to ensure that these devices can install new versions of Windows 10, which is why it’s building Windows 10 Lean. It’s normal Windows 10, but on a diet.”

Windows Central reports that the OS is still very buggy in the Redstone 5 build and that Microsoft could naturally change its mind and shelve the project at any time. 

Windows 10 Lean: Great idea or doomed from the start?

I can’t help but feel that, not for the first time, Microsoft’s whole strategy here feels a little confused. In principle it’s great that you’ll have the freedom to install the software you like in Windows 10 Lean, but if you’ve got only 16GB of storage, by definition you’re still massively restricted.

Also, as flash storage gets larger and cheaper, the problem of having devices with such limited capacity should surely become a distant memory within a few years anyway? The whole project therefore just feels like a case of too little too late. You’d also think Microsoft would want to refine Windows 10 S before trying its hand at another lightweight OS – couldn’t Windows 10 S be the operating system that’s optimised for devices limited storage?

First announced around a year ago, Windows 10 S was sold as brand new OS that promised to be “streamlined for security and superior performance” – an attempt to take on Chrome OS, if you like. However, Microsoft recently announced that from next year Windows 10 S will simply be a mode in Windows 10, rather that its own standalone product, suggesting that it’s taking a step back from it.

Image credit: @tfwboredom

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