Why 'Windows Lite' would be a bad name for Microsoft's upcoming OS
'Windows Lite' is still in the works internally at Microsoft, with rumors pointing to a spring unveiling. But, what should it be called?
Microsoft has never really been good at naming Windows.
For the most part, Windows names have been uninspired, boring, or just confusing. So, when rumors emerged suggesting that "Windows Lite" might not actually use the name Windows when it's announced officially, I was excited. Why? Because this would be an excellent time for Microsoft to branch out, try new things, and kickstart an entirely new generation of computing experiences powered by Windows, without all the legacy expectations that the name Windows brings with it.
Before we dive into what it should or shouldn't be called, let's give some background on Windows Lite. I think many of us are expecting Windows Lite to be a watered-down version of Windows, thanks in part to its codename, but that's not really what Windows Lite is all about. Windows Lite is Microsoft's attempt at bringing a new, more modern user experience to a Windows OS to compete alongside Chrome OS and iOS on iPad. It looks and feels different from any version of Windows before it, and it focuses primarily on web experiences and integrations, along with Microsoft Store apps, maybe even Android apps, and making the OS much lighter.
Windows brings with it certain expectations
I think calling it "Windows" anything is a terrible idea. The Windows brand carries with it expectations, and if those aren't met, it will make for a terrible user experience. For example, people buying Windows products expect a typical taskbar, Start menu, legacy program support, and more. Case in point: Windows 8, and Windows 10 S. These versions of Windows removed one or all of the parts people "expect" to have available to them on a Windows device, and it didn't go over well. If Microsoft wants to branch out and try new things with Windows Lite, it needs to not be called Windows.
Then there's the "Lite" aspect of its name. As far as I know, the word "Lite" has never been in the running as a potential name for this OS; it's just a codename. In fact, I'm told Microsoft has already stopped using this codename in favor of something else internally, as it's setting the wrong idea for what Windows Lite is all about. It's not a "light" version of Windows; it's an entirely new experience for Windows, built on a lightweight, adaptable platform known as Windows Core OS.
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And, calling something "lite" just makes people think you're not getting a full experience. Lite has the connotation of being "less than" or "not as good" as something else.
So what should Windows Lite be called?
This is a popular topic of conversation among us at Windows Central. If you listen to our weekly podcast, you'll know we've spitballed many ideas for what Windows Lite could be called. We started at "Aurora," a nice word that feels modern and clean. But then we ended up with "Skylight." And we like that name a lot.
Windows Lite, even if it's not called Windows, is still Windows (Core OS) underneath. While most people probably won't know or care if it is, the fans will know. A skylight is a window that's most commonly found in ceilings and lets in natural light. It's a subtle call back to "Windows" and the fact that Windows Lite is all about light computing. It's the perfect name!
In all seriousness, we don't know what Windows Lite will be called when it's officially announced. While we would absolutely love for it to be called Skylight, chances are Microsoft has another name planned for it. I wouldn't write off the rumors that Windows Lite won't be called Windows, however, as I've actually had the chance to see, and play with, Windows Lite. And from my very brief time using it, I never once saw a Windows logo.
What do you think Windows Lite should be called? Do you like the name Skylight? Let us know in the comments.
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Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.