Why 'Windows Lite' would be a bad name for Microsoft's upcoming OS

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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.

Windows Lite needs to avoid the same fate as Windows 8 and Windows 10 S.

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.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

189 Comments
  • I wonder with MS releasing their own Chrome browser would they consider releasing a Microsoft Chromebook with MS apps?
  • Ah, Nope! :-)
  • This is tough. It's hard to come up with new names. Just call it Windows. No matter what they call it, they will be criticized by someone. I'm thinking just stick with Windows Core.
  • Better yet, just call it CoreOs
  • Yep CoreOS I was thinking exactly the same
  • With ya there. CoreOS or COS sounds good. Just hope the experience is also.
  • No, alphabetically COS would come before DOS, so to be "modern" it should come after it. So the better name would me EOS, "EnhancedOS".
    I am just kidding, it is a bad idea. It should be called Microsoft CoreOS, open source with the possibility of Win32 and UIs being layers running on top of it.
  • Well too bad CoreOS already exists.
  • Yeah, CoreOS is already used by another Linux distro and they can't just take it either since they will leave a sour taste on open-source community, which Microsoft has been actively supporting recently. I think they should find a name that is simple, catchy or maybe cooler. Just don't call that sounds like corporate like 365 OS or Azure OS (though this sounds cool though).
  • True, but CoreOS was acquired by Red Hat and is no longer actively being used. I’m sure Microsoft has bought the domain names from them already, and as you say, Microsoft is supporting open-source. We’ll see.
  • Microsoft already has an internal project called Windows Core OS. It is a fully stripped down version, the core of Windows, hence the name. The idea is that they can then add front-ends to use it for different things. One version for a future XBox another version for a foldable pocket tablet, etc.
  • No, keep it in-theme. So it's a more portable form of Windows... Call it Portholes!
  • Why not call it SurfOS or Surface OS. It sounds much better.
  • They are not releasing a Chrome browser. They are revising Edge to use the public domain Chromium engine. Google adopted the Chromium engine for their own browser and that's why they named it "Chrome." Google owns Chrome but not Chromium. Edge will remain Edge, but updated with a new engine. Please get it right. My own preference is "Fenestra."
  • Fenestra (fenestrae) means Windows. Hmmm. Has been tried before.
  • Chromium is a Google project. Make no mistake. From WikiPedia: "Chromium is Google's open-source web browser project. It is a fully functional browser on its own and supplies the vast majority of code for the Google Chrome browser." It remains to be seen how much of the Chrome code Microsoft uses. It may be that they just rip the Blink rendering engine plug it in to Edge. You'd hardly be able to tell if that was all they did. I am betting that they actually are going to include support for Chrome extensions. They'll have to change a lot to do that.
  • Microsoft has also said they plan on using the V8. JavaScript engine The new Microsoft browser is going to be like Vivaldi in the sense it is based entirely on Chromium.
  • I think that's the point of their Core OS initiative: it's a competitor to Chromebooks, since Google already has half the education market and their share is growing. This is the same reason why Apple made the poor attempt last year at an education-aimed iPad (because iOS is still overwhelmingly designed around consumption), and why Microsoft mistakenly believed throwing cheaper PCs and a fat stylus at the education market would work (it won't). Chromebooks are so prevalent in education because it's practically impossible to screw them up software-wise, they're super easy to administer, and there's no fear of OS updates that destroy user data.
  • Why? You can just download that on your own like you can on Android. People forget that you can do whatever you want on your machine if you just spend more than 5 minutes going around the setting or doing a web search for how to's
  • Beast lite 10... no taste piss water
  • “Windows blite 10” ... better name... or they could call it “winchronium 10”...
  • I think Microsoft wanted to use a similar name for their previous take on removing the Registry kernel...something like Vienna, but I'm not 100% sure. As for Skylight, that's bound to receive litigation similar to the name "SkyDrive" before. Aurora makes sense though.
  • yeah thinking the same. Sky News is likely to go after Microsoft again with anything that has the three letters contained in a word: s-k-y
  • That seems unlikely. SkyDrive was clearly a newly minted compound word with no previous associated meaning which as a result was shown to cause confusion among the public as to which company offered the service. The word skylight on the other hand has an established meaning already, so there's no reason to take part of that word and attribute it to the Sky Television Services.
  • I like Microsoft Edge OS. In reference to Azure and all edge devices connected to it.
  • The thing about that, is the users that this OS will be marketed to, would associate that name with Microsoft Edge browser, which is still being compared to IE (unfairly). I'm not against this as a name, but outside of users like us, I don't see that name working.
  • "Microsoft Edge browser, which is still being compared to IE (unfairly)." To be honest, Microsoft asked for these comparisons when they made Edge's icon look so utterly similar to IE's.
  • It was going to be compared to IE regardless, I don't think changing the logo would've really had any impact on that. But we'll never know now lol
  • They shouldn't have launched Edge with SO MANY features missing. It was always doomed. It was the Windows Phone of browsers: way behind the competition with too many missing features.
  • No, it was the logo. That was a dumb move on Microsoft's part. You can't build a brand new browser, use essentially the same logo and expect people to know it's a brand new browser. Just this week I had to instruct someone that they have not been using Internet Explorer for the last year or so, they've been using Edge.
  • One of my classmates thought that it was Internet Explorer till the last week until I pointed out to him that it's Microsoft Edge and has existed since 2015.
  • I still cannot use Edge for interaction with Australian government sites' forms so I have to use Google anyway. Ms is not seen, even by government, as being worth the candle and I am really peeved. With this example at the top of mind why does anyone here care what you call it if we can't use it?
  • https://m.windowscentral.com/microsoft-confirms-plans-rebuild-edge-groun... You're welcome Next complaint?
  • That's more of a testament of how governments are still coding for specific browsers and are super slow to adopt and adapt. More governments actually still require IE, rather than Chrome.
  • Call it Panes.
  • Not bad, but the "pains" jokes would never end... :-)
  • "Wave" for the OS name. Or anything that makes someone think of looking out of a window to a pleasant view.
  • Not bad, but I still prefer Skylight. I believe they really hit on something with that and hope people at Microsoft are open to it. I'm afraid they'll call it "Windows COS" or something terrible like that. The best name they've had in years ("Cortana") didn't come from their marketing people, but I'm scared they won't let that happen again. :(
  • Sadly Skylight won't happen due to the legal action over Skydrive (the original name for OneDrive). BSkyB (Sky UK) in the UK took Microsoft to court over the use of Sky in the name, and eventually Microsoft had to drop it. Shame, I liked Skydrive!
  • Good point, and memory. You're right. 😒
  • And, how can a UK company take every form of "sky" from the world? The SkyDrive decision was insane.
  • Because the UK company already had a product named SkyDrive in the past, IIRC
  • Microsoft OS or something to do with Azure.
  • 99, 999 % of potential buyers have no perception of Azure. The name would be completely arbitrary to them...
  • I love the Name MicrosoftOS
  • How about Moonroof OS
  • Why wouldn't they continue with the One naming that they already have with OneDrive, OneNote, Xbox One etc. - One OS?
  • What about One OS 10S RT?
  • @ecafrus mate I dont think that names long enough lol
  • My money is on New Operating System w/ New Technologies version..uh.. 6.2.
    NOSNT 6.2
  • because its retarded?
  • Android sounded retarded too when it was first announced.
  • people could complain that One OS would not include Windows 7, 8, and 10. Best to not get people up in arms again.
  • It will be Microsoft Go OS. It will be pronounced Microsoft Goes. Story over.
  • That's funny because I could actually see that happening. :-)
  • They should name it something that more accurately reflects reality. Here are my top choices: 1. Windows RT Version 2.0
    2. Windows S Mode Fail Edition
    3. Windows Disaster
    4. Windows Steaming pile of ****
    etc...
  • God Dan it, bleached!
  • That isn't me. I nominate Microsoft Edge OS Core Edition in Lite Mode RT+. Actually, I really like Skylight. I think that would be perfect.
  • For some reason I like the name Solar
  • A Microsoft OS outside the Windows family will be dead on arrival, IMO. Besides, comparing a dedicated browser OS with Windows 8 and 10S, which were the full Windows experience and a sandboxed version of the full Windows experience respectively, is a fallacy; this is a different kind of beast, and will be viewed as such, especially if MS finally get their marketing act together. As for a name... Light would work for me, but is perhaps a bit nondescriptive. They could go for Windows Web. Or Windows whatever-name-they-give-their-chromium-browser...
  • It is probably DoA no matter what, but at least it will start off with a clean slate if they completely separate it from the Windows brand. Like he said in the article, Windows brand brings expectations. Expectations it cannot meet.
  • Call it DoorsOS
  • Marketed by a virtual Jim Morrison... Not bad!
  • I would call it Windose, since it's just a little part of Windows. And for people who don't know what it is and got stuck with it, thinking it would runs legacy app, I would call it Windoh!, Winduh! or Windah!
  • I agree with you however isn't Windows lite supposed to be able to run Windows x86 apps through virtualization? That is a big feature that would benefit from having windows branding.
    In one hand a fresh start without all the windows expectations would be great but on the other hand not implying the ability to run windows apps could end up in a failed product.
  • They should not because that's like Apple doing the same with iOS running Mac apps in the future.
    This OS is a different thing and should be considered as such
  • Chrome OS isn't called Android, yet Chrome OS can run Android apps.
  • I literally enjoy only Zac's articles in this site nowadays. Straight on point, exactly what people want to read. No BS. Now on the article: If this new "lite" Windows OS has the same retarded architecture that MS came up with in terms of kernel, the registry insanity, file indexing, etc. then don't even bother releasing anything. Lite my *ss.
  • How about Windows 10 - Not So Buggy Version
    A new lighter OS made for those that are sick of bug fixes. Now that has a ring to it.
  • I hope they should name it something like this, but this OS is still buggy and will be till next two major updates.
  • Spectrum OS is the name Remember me, folks. Mark my words
  • But if you're wrong, you will fade into oblivion.
  • I will not fade. I will burn... Burns into oblivion!
  • He's already in oblivion, so what's he got to lose? :)