Looks like early reports of a Windows RT resurrection are true after all, as incriminating screenshots of the so-called Windows Cloud platform have recently been leaked, proving that Microsoft is indeed gearing up for the release of a new Windows 10 iteration with toned down features similar to the way Chrome OS is set up.
Windows 10 Cloud
The screenshots depict a forthcoming version of Windows 10 that's locked down and before that, the Windows 8.1 Bing version of Windows.
Despite its name, however, Windows Cloud has apparently little to do with a cloud-based system, and it would instead be a version of Windows 10 that can only run Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, ZDNet reports.
Windows Cloud Locked To Windows Store Apps
The screenshots were first published by Windows Blog Italia, which said it was able to test the OS, confirming that Windows Cloud indeed runs Windows Store apps only. The site also noted that Windows Store apps built under Microsoft's "Centennial" Desktop Bridge can run on the OS. Centennial, for the uninitiated, allows developers to port Win32 apps to the Windows Store.
The OS's lockdown concept may very well be for security and reliability reasons, among others, as closing access to Win32 apps, while delimiting the platform, would most likely prevent it from having issues, viruses, and the usual full-blown risks. The only problem is that the Windows Store doesn't exactly pack a broad and robust library selection, which, if otherwise, could at least be a silver lining to the Win32 app gatekeeping.
At least, looking at the screenshots, there's very little to suggest that Windows Cloud is a colossal visual overhaul from Windows 10; both actually look very similar, and pinpointing exact differences is difficult.
Perhaps, Microsoft is aiming for a near-Windows 10 experience with the OS in question, which if true, won't require Windows Store developers to apply major visual touch-ups.
Microsoft's Own Version Of Google's Chrome OS
But if Microsoft's indeed positioning Windows Cloud as its answer to Google's Chrome OS powering Chromebooks in the market at present, then it's only logical for the OS to be a more compact and toned-down package compared with Windows 10 on desktops and laptops.
Chromebooks' functionalities obviously won't hold a candle to full-fledged laptops, but for simple productivity tools, it's more than up for the job. The price is also a strong determining factor: Chromebooks are significantly cheaper than Windows 10-based laptops, even more so than Apple's MacBooks.
Reports suggest that Windows Cloud is indeed a lightweight version of the Windows 10 platform, meant to run on low-cost PCs that cater to education and business sectors.
There's already a market for low-cost, lightweight PCs thanks to Chromebooks. Schools, for example, could invest in Windows Cloud laptops to offer computing facilities for its students without worrying about ludicrous costs, and without being anxious about students using the machine beyond intended purposes.
There isn't any word beyond speculation that can point to the release of Windows Cloud, but the already functional build seems to suggest that such a prospect might be closer than we think. It could possibly be launched alongside the Windows 10 Creators Update, which is due in April.