Windows 10 Mobile seemed to be a stripped-down version of Windows 10 since they shared the same kernel, UI components, settings and they even shared the same UWP app platform. But Windows 10 Mobile was never a stripped-down version of Windows 10. Also, things didn’t turn out as expected and Microsoft had to move Windows 10 Mobile to the feature2 branch which focussed only on bug fixes and under the hood improvements. Now, Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 Mobile will no longer be available in any new hardware which makes the OS dead.
The need for an actual stripped down version of Windows 10 is quite high, especially for low-cost Windows 10 devices. ChromeOS works well with budget devices with poor specifications. This made ChromeOS very popular in the education segment. Microsoft’s answer to this was Windows 10 S. While it wasn’t necessarily a lighter version of Windows 10, it tried to be that lighter version by disabling the ability to download apps from outside the Microsoft Store. This would prevent the installation of executable files which would eventually slow down the PC in a long term. So the only advantages of Windows 10 S were that it wouldn’t slow down the PC in the long run and also would make it more secure.
Windows 10 Lean could be an actual stripped down version of Windows 10
A Twitter user has recently found out that the installer for Windows 10 Lean started rolling out with build 17650 (Redstone 5) of the Skip Ahead Ring for Windows Insiders. A 64-bit clean install of this version of Windows is notably 2GB lesser in size when compared to a 64-bit clean install of Windows 10 Pro. This means that Microsoft has removed a lot of packages from the operating system.
One such feature missing is wallpaper support. Windows 10 Lean by default doesn’t come with wallpaper. Registry Editor (regedit) is also missing but it can be imported. So this means that Windows 10 Lean does not have any limitations regarding the installation of Win32 apps.
Interestingly, it was thought that Microsoft was working on another stripped-down version of Windows 10 which was called Polaris. Polaris does not have any Win32 elements in it. So this is probably meant for a “mobile device” which the company might be working on. Windows 10 Lean, however, is not like Polaris as of now.
Microsoft is also working on Windows Core OS which adapts itself to different device types. These may sound confusing but we hope to hear more about these different versions in the coming months. Microsoft might also announce one of these in Build 2018.