Lightweight Windows 10 Cloud OS appears to threaten Chromebooks’ throne

Windows 10 Cloud is an alleged fresh version of Microsoft’s latest operating system which could be arriving soon, although the new variant won’t actually be a cloud-powered OS as seen on Google’s Chromebooks. Rather, it will reportedly be a new take on Windows RT (kind of) which will still threaten the Chromebook.

The name Windows 10 Cloud was spotted by folks digging deep inside recent preview builds of Windows 10, including the infamous WalkingCat, a denizen of Twitter who is the source of many Microsoft rumors. 

And naturally it kicked off plenty of speculation about exactly what this spin on Windows 10 could be, with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley tapping her inside sources at Microsoft to discover that this variant won’t actually be a cloud-driven OS (which makes the name a little bizarre, but hey).

Rather, the assertion from these sources is that this will simply be a cut-down version of Windows 10 that will only run universal apps from the Windows Store, so as mentioned, this is sort of the successor to Windows RT in that it’s aimed at budget machines.

In other words, a very basic version of Windows 10 which hardware manufacturers can deploy very cheaply – or maybe even free – to keep costs down, and push further and harder with lower-priced Windows devices. So in a roundabout way, it does have Chromebooks in its sights in terms of attacking this low-end of the notebook market, even if a ‘cloudy’ OS isn’t the goal.

Shifting apps

Before we get too carried away, though, bear in mind this is all speculation from, so don’t read too much into it. But this line of attack does make sense for Microsoft, and of course would also push the Windows Store harder, helping to shift more apps from there (which would be a major boon for the software giant, obviously).

There’s also chatter that this spin on Windows 10 will be aimed at the education sector – where Chromebooks are very strong, of course – and it could be a vehicle for pushing Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud services (that might be where the ‘Cloud’ moniker derives from).

Again, this is all guesswork, and Microsoft is officially saying absolutely nothing about this development (which is no great surprise).

When it comes to launch timing, given that references have popped up in Windows test builds now, Windows 10 Cloud could become a reality with the Creators Update due in April. Or possibly the following update later in the year, but it certainly seems likely that this is a project for 2017. Assuming anything comes of it at all, that is.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).