Microsoft wants to offer a cheaper version of its Windows 10 OS to PC makers, according to a new report. It claims the company is working to develop a new SKU called Windows 10 Cloud, which will only be able to run Windows Platform (UWP) apps that can be downloaded from the operating system’s built-in Windows Store.
ZDNet reports, via unnamed sources, that Microsoft’s main thrust with Windows 10 Cloud is to offer PC makers a way to launch notebooks that will still have a version of Windows installed, but can be priced as low or lower than competing Chromebooks that use Google’s Chrome OS. The current version of Windows 10 can run both UWP apps along with legacy x86 desktop apps made for Windows 7 and earlier versions. The article speculates that Microsoft could officially announce Windows 10 Cloud this spring, when it also launches the free Windows 10 Creators Update. Officially, Microsoft would not confirm or deny these new reports.
Microsoft tried to go this route once before when it launched Windows RT in 2008, alongside Windows 8. That version of the OS was only meant to be used on tablets that used an ARM-based processor and could not run older Windows apps made for x86 chips from Intel and AMD. That OS release was a massive failure, with only a handful of Windows RT devices getting launched, and none of them were a sales success.
Microsoft has also announced plans to launch a version of Windows 10 that will be able to be installed on devices running on Qualcomm’s ARM-based processors. Unlike Windows RT, Microsoft says this version will be able to handle both UWP apps as well as older x86 desktop apps via a new emulation technology. The first devices with this version of Windows 10 are expected to launch sometime before the end of 2017, but there’s no word on which hardware OEMs will offer Qualcomm-based Windows PCs.