Microsoft reportedly is working on a new pared-down version of Windows, code-named Polaris. This new version isn’t a follow-up to Windows 10. Rather, it’s an alternative OS more like Chrome or iOS… a lightweight OS designed for devices like tablets, 2 in 1s and ultra-mobile laptops, and accordingly, it could be the future of Microsoft and Windows.
Polaris in a nutshell is a desktop shell using what is called a C-Shell to run on top of the Windows Core OS. In essence, it’s a platform designed to properly scale out across mobile, console, PC, HoloLens and embedded devices. Different products running Windows would use different iterations of this shell.
While currently Polaris is planned to be an accessory OS on top of Windows, many analysts are saying that it could take over for Windows 10 S, the pared-down student version of Windows 10 that Microsoft is using to test the lightweight OS. It’s very possible that Microsoft is angling towards the education market to see how a pared-down Windows experience would go over with the average user.
According to reports, Polaris focuses on stripping out all of the legacy components that make Windows 10 a full-featured operating system in favor of a system designed around the basics like Chrome OS. And since most people only use the web these days, an operating system designed for people who typically work out of a web browser is totally appropriate. The new Windows Polaris would be quicker, more nimble, and use a lot less memory.
Additionally, Polaris would be built entirely on Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP), making it a much more friendly environment to existing UWP apps and potentially offer battery life and performance improvements. It would also strip out legacy, unneeded Win32 components and apps like Paint and Notepad in favor of a UWP experience, just like Windows 10 Mobile.
This is a progressive move for Microsoft, but it makes sense, especially with Microsoft’s recent shift toward unifying its Windows experience across all of its platforms. It is, however, unclear whether or not Polaris would end up seeing widespread adoption.