Windows Core OS: The complete guide

Windows 10 Wallpaper
Windows 10 Wallpaper (Image credit: Microsoft)

Trying to keep up with Microsoft's internal Windows Core OS (WCOS) project is no easy task. Even we find it challenging to keep up with all the different codenames, plans, and changes being made to Windows with Windows Core OS. So, to try and keep things in line, we've compiled this ultimate guide for Windows Core OS, CShell, and everything in between.

Windows Core OS is something we've been writing about since early 2017 and has been in the works for much longer. It's the future of Windows, which takes the shared code of OneCore and builds a modern, legacy-free OS on top of it. Windows Core OS, along with CShell, allows Microsoft to create new versions of Windows 10 quickly, and share standard components and features across different device types and WCOS versions quickly and easily.

Let's get into the nitty-gritty details.

Building a future OS today

What is Windows Core OS?

Lumia 950 and Surface

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

To answer this question, we first have to explain what Windows Core OS isn't. Today, Windows 10 is several different operating systems across the many devices types it can run on. There's Windows 10 for desktops, Windows 10 for HoloLens, Windows 10 for IoT devices, Windows 10 for Surface Hub, Windows 10 for Xbox, and there was also a Windows 10 for phones. Although these are all Windows 10, they're all technically different operating systems that don't run very well on devices for which they are not designed. Windows 10 desktop, for example, would be a terrible experience on a phone, and vice versa.

All of these versions of Windows 10 do share universal elements, however, such as OneCore and OneCoreUAP which are layers of the operating system that you can find on all of these versions of Windows 10 that enable things like the Universal Windows Platform. But the rest of everything included in these operating systems are specific to that version of Windows. Not everything is interchangeable or shareable between them, as most of these features have to be rewritten each time by the teams working on these individual versions of the OS for them to function.

A great example of this is with the Start menu and Action Center on Windows 10 for desktop and Windows 10 Mobile. While Microsoft tried very hard to make these experiences seem the same, underneath, they were very different. Keen-eyed users would have likely noticed differences in features between the two Start experiences, and that's because for one feature to be available on both platforms, it needed to be built twice, not just once. Live tile folders are a perfect example of this, a feature that was first found on Mobile took over a year to appear on the desktop.

Windows Core OS is the future of Windows.

As it stands today, there's a lot of extra work and overhead that Microsoft needs to deal with every time it wants to build a version of Windows 10 for a new device type, such as foldables. Windows 10 as it exists on its own wouldn't be a good fit for foldable PCs. Microsoft could start building yet another version of Windows 10 for this category of devices, but then they'd have to rebuild many of the existing features you can find on other versions of Windows 10 already to ensure those features behave and operate correctly on this form factor. It's a waste of resources and effort.

That's where Windows Core OS comes in. With Windows Core OS, Microsoft is building a universal base for Windows that can be used across all these different devices. Instead of having to develop a new version of Windows 10 for every new device type that comes along, Microsoft can simply use Windows Core OS to start. They would then pull in features and functions it has already built for it, and create it as an OS for that device type. All that would be created with less overhead and fewer resources used.

Windows Core OS strips Windows down to the bare minimum. It doesn't include any legacy components or features, and sticks to UWP as a core for the operating system as it's lighter and already universal. From there, Microsoft can build out Windows Core OS with different components and features that it can then apply to devices where necessary. But this time, those components and features can be shared across the many different devices Windows Core OS will run on.

It's essentially a modular platform. Any feature or function Microsoft builds for it can then be applied to any Windows Core OS device that it wants. For example, let's imagine Microsoft builds out Win32 support as a component for Windows Core OS for desktop and laptop devices. Since that work has now already been done, Microsoft can also bring that Win32 component to HoloLens 2 or Surface Hub 2X running Windows Core OS, enabling that functionality on those experiences too.

The big selling point for Windows Core OS for Microsoft is that for the people working on Windows, it takes way less time and resources to build new Windows experiences when it's required. If Microsoft or any of its partners want to develop new device form factors running Windows, they no longer have to wait years for Microsoft to build up a version of Windows 10 that works for it. Using Windows Core OS, they can create new Windows experiences in a fraction of the time and way more efficiently.

Explaining composable

What is CShell for Windows?

The shared component idea extends to the UI as well, thanks to a universal shell Microsoft has been building called Composable Shell, also known as CShell for short. CShell is the other half of this universal idea for Windows Core OS, and allows Microsoft to build shell experiences that can be shared across devices, and even bundled up together where it makes sense. For example, any shell-facing feature like an Action Center, Start menu, or taskbar, can then be used across all CShell-powered devices without having to rewrite them to fit on different devices every single time.

Imagine a gaming PC that changes to an Xbox "game mode" when an Xbox controller is connected.

Let's imagine Microsoft decides to finally build a Surface Phone running Windows Core OS. It'll feature a mobile experience primarily, but if you connected it to a Continuum dock, Microsoft could also bundle the actual desktop experience it built with CShell. So instead of getting a fake desktop experience as you did with Windows 10 Mobile, you'd boot into the real desktop experience Microsoft made for CShell, which runs on actual desktops. That's pretty cool.

Unfortunately, Microsoft seems just about done with trying to build phones that run Windows, so insteaad, we can apply this idea to something a little more plausible. Tablets! Microsoft can build out dedicated desktop and tablet mode experiences with CShell, and apply them to 2-in-1 devices like the Surface Pro. So whenever the user enters tablet mode, instead of getting a mediocre experience, it can boot into a dedicated tablet mode that Microsoft built for CShell. On some devices, maybe tablet mode is the only experience available, and on others, there's more than one.

Or imagine a gaming PC, which, when being used with a mouse and keyboard, uses an actual regular desktop interface with a taskbar and Start menu. When an Xbox controller is connected, however, it boots into a "Game Mode" that enables the same Xbox shell you can find on Xbox consoles, except it's all running on your PC and has all your PC games ready to go. That would be pretty cool. These ideas are all very possible with CShell and Windows Core OS.

There's more than one experience

The different flavors of Windows Core OS

Now we know all about Windows Core OS and what it is — let's take a look at all the different configurations of Windows Core OS we know about so far. Officially, there are two devices that Microsoft is shipping with Windows Core OS: HoloLens 2 and Surface Neo.

There are a whole bunch of different codenames and words used to describe the different versions of WCOS. So we've tried to include all the names Microsoft uses for these editions of Windows Core OS.

Windows 10X

Windows Core OS for laptops and foldable PCs

Windows 10X Start

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Official Name: Windows 10X
  • Codename: Santorini
  • WCOS Edition: ModernPC

Windows 10X is a flavor of Windows Core OS that appears to be for both foldable PCs and traditional laptops and tablets.

Microsoft is building out Windows 10X as the version of Windows Core OS that runs on consumer and commercial foldable PCs, laptops, and 2-in-1 tablets. It's a new take on what Windows can be, introducing a brand new user experience that's a little more like Chrome OS and less like old-school Windows. It has deep ties with web experiences and puts universal Windows apps front and center, and will eventually be able to run traditional desktop apps from outside the Microsoft Store too.

Windows 10X features a centered taskbar experience, and can adapt depending on the posture of the device it's running on. There's a simple app launcher that doesn't feature live tiles, which lists your installed apps from the Microsoft Store or pinned websites.

Foldable PCs are coming

Centaurus and Pegasus

Intel Prototype

Source: PCWorld (Image credit: Source: PCWorld)

Regarding those sub-codenames, Centaurus is the codename Microsoft uses for Windows 10X on foldable PCs like the Surface Neo. These can range from single-screen to dual-screen tablet or laptop-sized devices, kind of like the Intel TigerRapids prototype. Windows 10X's shell is tailored a little differently when running in the multiple modes a foldable device might put forward, such as tablet mode, laptop mode, or somewhere in between. Pegasus is what we believe to be Windows 10X but for more traditional form factors, like a laptop or 2-in-1 with a physical keyboard. These are devices with no unique bending capabilities. This tailored version of Windows 10X will have a more familiar PC experience, but with the same design aesthetic found on Centaurus.

Why the 2-in-1 PC's next big thing will be dual displays

This version of Windows Core OS will likely be the "flagship" version that Microsoft pushes the most. It's the version that most normal people will get to interact with, as it'll be available more on consumer-orientated PCs. Its primary goal is to take on Chrome OS in the education market, but over time, it'll grow out to be the next generation of Windows for most people.

Windows Holographic

Windows Core OS for Mixed Reality devices

HoloLens 2 OS

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Official Name: Windows Holographic Codename: Oasis WCOS Edition: Holographic

Windows Holographic (codenamed Oasis) is the flavor of Windows Core OS for Mixed Reality experiences like HoloLens 2. HoloLens 2 is Microsoft's first shipping Windows Core OS product. Known officially as "Windows Holographic," this flavor of Windows Core OS is very similar to the old HoloLens 1 OS. From a usability standpoint, HoloLens 2 is a generational leap forward over HoloLens 1, thanks to the ability to touch and interact with holograms directly. Being able to walk up to and manipulate holograms with your hands is a complete game-changer. There's no learning curve to HoloLens 2 once you're aware of how to interact with it. Human instinct is to reach out and touch when you want to interact with something, and that's precisely what you do with HoloLens 2.

To access the Start menu, the Start button itself is found on your wrist. Just hold up your wrist, and a little Microsoft logo appears. Just tap it with your other hand, and the Start menu will pop up. From there, you can tap on any of the elements in your Start menu to get to where you want to go. Scrolling is a unique experience, and there are two ways to do it. You can do it via "touch," which is as you'd expect; just reach out with your finger and scroll as if you were scrolling on a tablet. There's also eye tracking available on HoloLens 2, and in certain areas that eye tracking is used in scrolling. If you get to the bottom of a window, and there's more content available to scroll, the window will automatically start scrolling.

One new thing I was able to try that wasn't working when the press first went hands-on with HoloLens 2 back in February was the new holographic keyboard. Because users can now reach out and touch holograms, Microsoft had to rework the HoloLens keyboard to accommodate for this. As such, it's a bit larger, and the keys are round now. It works just as if you were typing on a tablet. You reach out and begin poking at the area where the holographic key is showing up. It's not too accurate, but you can bang out a few sentences if you really need to.

Holographic apps can be much more advanced now, thanks to the new hand- and eye-tracking capabilities. In one of the demos, a virtual bird is floating around the room, and if you hold out your hand, the bird will fly to it wherever you are in the room.

During my hands-on, I asked whether the HoloLens 2 can run Win32 programs. Microsoft was not willing to comment, but I know from sources that this is indeed the plan. I asked because I noticed the version of Microsoft Edge that is shipping on HoloLens 2 is the old Edge, not the new Chromium Edge. I don't think the ability to run Win32 programs will be there when HoloLens 2 starts shipping, but it is something that is in the works and will likely come in the form of an update later.

Speaking of updates, the HoloLens 2 I was playing with was running the 19H1 RTM build, and it was working well. Since HoloLens 2 is a Windows Core OS device, it will benefit from the new, improved Windows Update that takes less than a minute to reboot once an update is ready to install.

Under 60 seconds

Faster OS updates

Windows Update Insider

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

One of the big things Microsoft has been working towards with Windows Core OS is an improved Windows Update system that installs updates in the background and requires less than a minute to restart once those updates are ready to do so.

How it works is very similar to how Android and Chrome OS do updates today. On those platforms, the OS runs in two separate mirrored partitions, and when an update is ready to install, the update is downloaded and installed to the offline partition that you're currently not using. When that's done, the OS will ask you to restart, and while it may look like you're just rebooting, what's actually happening is you're booting into the partition that just spent 25 minutes installing an update in the background.

Windows Core OS keeps system updates to under a minute.

It boots right up as if there was never an update waiting to be installed, and that's because all the installing has already been done while you were busy using the other online partition. Now, you've booted into the partition where the update is installed, and the partition you were just in becomes the offline partition for newer updates to be installed to down the line.

This should solve one of the significant issues Windows has when it comes to updates. Updates can usually take anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes to install, and even longer on older devices. Windows Core OS solves this problem by making it, so the user isn't unable to use their PC for no longer than a minute. It merely restarts like normal, and you're back up and running again.

Supporting legacy apps

Will it run Win32 programs?

In the original pitch for Windows Core OS, legacy Win32 programs were not in the picture, not really. Today, however, Microsoft understands that if Windows Core OS is ever to have a chance, it needs to be able to run Win32 programs. Microsoft is exploring many different ways of bringing legacy program support to Windows Core OS, including virtually through remote and local emulation.

This functionality will be made available where it makes sense, like on Windows 10X. Win32 programs, by default, are sandboxed and containerized on Windows Core OS. This keeps the OS secure, and also allows Microsoft to emulate the additional components required to run a legacy program on a modern OS, without those components weighing down the OS experience even when you're not using a legacy program, like Windows 10 does today. Most users likely won't notice a difference, but it is a difference worthy of note.

Windows Core OS, out of the box, doesn't ship with any of the legacy Win32 programs you find on Windows 10 today. Many of them will be made available as optional features that you can either enable from Settings or download from the Microsoft Store. Things like the legacy Control Panel or File Explorer won't be part of Windows Core OS, however.

The past is prologue

What will happen to current Windows 10?

Windows 10

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Naturally, that leads us into what this all means for current Windows 10 users. Will existing Windows 10 PCs be getting an update to Windows Core OS? Probably not. From what we've been able to tell, Windows Core OS is for new device experiences only. Legacy Windows 10, known as Windows Classic internally, will continue to be the power user option, that features all the legacy components and backward compatibility for the users that need it.

It's unclear if you'll be able to install an edition of Windows Core OS onto your current device. I'd assume there might be some driver related issues in that area. As far I know, I think Microsoft is looking to adopt the FFU recovery method of things when it comes to loading Windows Core OS onto devices, as that method is much faster to apply to devices than installing from an ISO.

Windows Classic will still be updated with new features and remain on par with Core OS.

Windows 10 as you know it isn't going anywhere. It'll still be the beefy, power-user option for people who need it. Windows Core OS devices will be for new device experiences, and people who don't need everything Windows 10 today has to offer. Windows Core OS can offer simplified experiences for those who prefer something like iOS or Chrome OS, instead of being bombarded and almost intimidated by the complex experience that is Windows 10.

You'll likely find that over time, the Windows 10 we know today will become the option for power-users, enterprises, and gamers, and Windows Core OS will become the option for everyone else. Just like how Apple is trying to position macOS as the power-user option, and iOS as the option for everyone else.

Windows Classic will still be updated with new features and remain on-par Windows Core OS when it comes to OneCore and platform work, but I don't think we're going to see Windows 10 evolve as much as it used to. Microsoft understands that Windows 10 users don't like change, and they just want a PC that works. Any unique ideas or innovations that change up things in a significant way will very likely come to Windows Core OS instead.

Breaking it all down


So what does all of that mean? Here's what Windows Core OS is, at its core:

  • A universal base for Windows products.
  • Allows Microsoft to build new versions of Windows for different device types quickly and efficiently.
  • Shares components and features where it makes sense.
  • Features faster updates.
  • Is the future of Windows on new and unique device types.
  • Doesn't replace legacy Windows 10.

As I mentioned in my initial Windows Core OS write up back in 2017, this is a big deal. It's the future of Windows, and Microsoft is playing the long game here. While Windows Core OS won't immediately take over, in 10-15 years, things will definitely be different. By then, Windows Core OS may be the primarily Windows platform, as it evolves and matures to be as such. We'll update this article frequently with new information as it becomes available. What are your thoughts on Windows Core OS? Let us know in the comments.

Updated March 16 2020: Cleaned up article, removed old information and included new Windows 10X details.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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.

  • Everyday I hope to open this app and see some big news about something exciting, just like the old days... I'm not sure what to expect, but I still hope... What could core OS bring, that's exciting, to the consumer market?
  • "What could core OS bring, that's exciting, to the consumer market?"
    I guess define "exciting" in regards to what an OS is expected to deliver, because that's a pretty open-ended, subjective ask that I'm certain no one here will actually agree upon. Moreover, I'd argue distinguishing between consumer and business markets is some really, really old thinking from the 2000's that no longer applies. Microsoft and the market have largely moved on from such distinctions, and I've been driving the point for the last 2 years, but so many of you here are trapped in yesterday's thinking. Time to catch up, the world has changed. An OS, according to Microsoft, is something that lets you get stuff done with "stuff" being productivity, creation, art, media, engineering, science, programming, or just entertainment. Just go back to Microsoft's new mission statement:
    "Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more"
    What do you want to achieve? Looking at double-helix in a hologram, remote collaboration using Whiteboard, presenting on a huge digital canvas in your office, working on-the-go with an always-connected PC? Or are you setting the bar low: checking email, watching Netflix? Some of that is on laptops, some on 2-in-1s, some on HoloLens, some in Surface Hub 2, and other experiences hitherto undefined since those devices/categories do not yet exist.
  • Yeah, I agree. One thing I've always said myself is that enterprises customers are mainstream consumers themselves. It's basically all the same devices, and experiences that PEOPLE want, and need, to get things done.
  • This is really it
  • This right here! I love the beauty of Windows. It's sad that we don't have a good photo or video editor and the same with audio production.
  • Exactly. I don't understand why MIcrosoft is not feeling the same. They have some of the nice apps in windows. even in android. But when it comes to the basic apps they have nothing. The new Photos, Videos and Music apps are just stupid in functionality as well as UI wise Wishing they will change it soon
  • Movie Maker was so good! You can still get it and it'll run fairly well. It's so much better than the "video editor" in Photos - which is slow af and the photo editor is total crap. Microsoft could get back to music with Groove and Zune and provide a good alternative to Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and Deezer - one that doesn't cut features 24/7 *cough* spotify *cough* I was disappointed in Microsoft's Android apps honestly. They didn't even release a photo viewer for Android :( The Office suite feels clunky. It would feel a lot better if it had the ripple effect.
  • Does not seem like it to me. They still don't seem like they understand consumers. I'm not sure acting like one size fits all is the same as not choosing between the two markets. Both still have different needs and perceptions of tech, and Microsoft just does not seem to understand regular people.
  • I think you misunderstand what Windows Core OS is, or is intended to be. Think of it as an electrical outlet. Whether we connect it to a power strip, a power cable, an extension cable, directly to a device, to a converter, or something else, it still all starts at the power plant. Same type of thing here. Whether we add components for a desktop, tablet, phone, hub, or any other device, it all starting at Windows Core OS. It's kind of like going with the code reusability idea.
  • *flashbacks of webcomponents, polymer and react* AHHHH!
  • Quote "Dan: I'd argue distinguishing between consumer and business markets is some really, really old thinking from the 2000's that no longer applies." What you are saying is factually incorrect. Microsoft does differentiate between consumer and business markets. For instance, many sharepoint / Office 365 applications only exists for enterprise customers, some of which can be beneficial for consumers also. And those are not 3rd party applications, those are apps made by Microsoft. On the other hand, Micrososft in last few years has cancelled a number of products that were meant for consumer markets like Groove music subscription. I am not saying that it's a wrong approach but you cannot deny that Microsoft wants to put it's mouth where the money is and it has nothing to do with "empowering people". Those are just marketing buzz words. It's funny that you talk about "Whiteboard" and "Hololens". I have been working in corporate world for the last 8 years and I am yet to see anyone using such products. And Microsoft should be blamed for this because unlike Apple, they (Microsoft) are not trend setters and lack conviction in their products. I am damn sure that sooner or later, "Whiteboard" and "Hololens" will also RIP. However, 3D visualization will evolve, have no second thoughts about that.
  • Hololens is a thing. For example, in the oil industry Hololens are utialiced in many ways. An inspection of platforms used to be done with paper blueprints, charts, guides and all kind of things. It took ages finding, identifying, testing and reporting things like valves. With Hololens the user can walk around and see where everything is, what everything is, and interact with and make report on objects just by looking at them. In medicine it can also be useful. I inserted a syringe 10cm long through the side of the neck into, or rather near, a specific portion of the brain, guided by Hololens. I do not have medical experience or education. In fact, this is considered a surgical procedure people need to travel to the cities to have done. Now, this job can be done by none surgical personnel outside the big hospitals, saving time and money. I can go on. Only because you do not see something, does not mean this something is not of use. MS is just keeping to the high demand markets with a high rate of emerging tech adoption.
  • Also.. When we say "foldable PC" are we basically talking about Andromeda type devices, or is that concept dead in the water? Are we referring to foldable tablets of the larger, non pocketable, variety?????
  • No, yes, yes. Getting fixated on hardware definitions and strict categories right now is literally missing the point of Windows Core OS.
  • Yeah, but in the end doesn't it all come down to user experience, and how the user physically interacts with the OS?
    But, I get it. Core OS is all about starting with a foundation and adding whatever components to make the specific scenario work. It could be compared to a smartphone, and all the apps a specific user decides to use to form a specific experience. There's tons of analogies that can be used to conceive the concept of core OS.
  • "Yeah, but in the end doesn't it all come down to user experience, and how the user physically interacts with the OS?"
    Yes and no. It's more about creating a modular OS that gives Microsoft flexibility and speed when adapting it to new hardware whether it has one screen, two screens, no screen, or is holographic. Right now the delta from Windows 10 to new hardware is too long and even when done, it's not great since they have to shoehorn legacy code onto new hardware. See Surface Go.
  • Hummm. Interesting. So, in the long term this could actually save a lot of resources, and time, for development. I never looked at it from that angle.
  • That's exactly it. There's too much old code and bloat in current Windows 10 that while fine for Intel laptops and desktop PCs doesn't lend itself to all the new edge computing/thin client, ARM, or holographic endeavors. Windows Core OS along with the "lenses" or "shells" let Microsoft build new UI experiences for new hardware without having to do as much work. They can also more easily create or adapt to new experiences, some of which are not yet even here.
  • I'm more excited than I was 30 minutes ago🤓
  • OMG! Rodney, you will never see your Surface Scribe. Daniel just confirmed Andromeda is “dead in the water.”
  • OMG!!! But, what if it's resurrected as a foldable tablet??? 👻👻👻👻🤓🤓😛
  • "foldable tablets of the larger, non pocketable, variety?????" That's not Andromeda! Andromeda was supposed to be pocketable.
  • Welll, there's no apps, I guess. So, that's that🤷🏾‍♂️
  • I don't want it unless I can fit it in my pocket!
  • "Daniel just confirmed Andromeda is “dead in the water.”"
    To clarify a bit, not necessarily dead just some of the OS concepts/design were shelved for what you see above; the hardware is on the backburner as reportedly Microsoft wants to bring a large foldable to market first then work down to Andromeda after WCOS has matured a bit. MS seems to know that a pocketable Surface would immediately be compared to phones/Android/iOS no matter how hard they spin it. Knowing that, they want UWP/WCOS to be more robust when it hits - plus it's an easier sell once you have something larger on the market (See Surface Pro vs Surface Go).
  • What about PWAs? Do they really matter that much, and can anyone realistically expect for them to be a large enough "workaround" anytime soon?
  • We'll see what they have to show us at Build. Some msft employees hinted on Twitter at big changes for PWAs on Windows. Plus by owning Github, msft now owns electron which is another popular web based platform.
  • They'd better have 800, 000 PWAs to show at Build, or it won't matter. Lol A Twitter application isn't gonna cut it.
  • Well, I'm hoping for some PWA office news. The new word online is super nice and I'd love to have it in the store with some more features; the UWP office mobile apps need to be replaced.
  • Maybe WebToApp can help you, for now :)
  • If anyone else is reading this: PWAs are literally just websites with a set of features. Electron is a website with some native code. The Spotify desktpp app is mostly a website but downloading songs is something that Electron makes possible.
  • So, are they keeping the tiles? Why?
  • Square icons != Live Tiles.
  • I appreciate the enthusiasm, but I don't even know what that means? Is the tile part necessary? It doesn't seem necessary. It seems unnecessary and confusing...
  • It means when you see square icons - even on Android - it doesn't mean they are Live Tiles. Square icons are sometimes...just square icons. (Also, "!=" is just computer logic for "does not mean", similar to ≠) Regardless, we have seen both round and square icons in mock ups, but not live tiles. Which the use is a moot point as it's just an icon shape.
  • It seems like if you have to put the icon inside a square or circle in the first place, it doesn't meet a quality standard to begin with.
  • I have no idea what this means. Icons are icons.
  • It means the icon should not have to rely on a square (or rounded square in the case of iOS) or circle to give it a uniform factor.
  • How do you specify uniformity without specifying uniformity? Like Daniel said, your comment makes no sense.
  • The icon itself, the item representing the app, doesn't need a square or circle around it to denote what it is.
  • Like how the Skype icon/logo isn't a square but then they paste it on top or inside a square to make it a "Skype tile"? You'd have to paste all icons inside the same shape to make the shape of the overall icon uniform. Microsoft chose to put all app logos inside a square to make the app icons uniform otherwise it would be just like on Windows 10 Mobile when you make the tiles 100% transparent and it is just random shaped icons on the screen, similar to how Android icons are not uniform.
  • Android app icons look terrible because they don't follow any guidelines. Windows Store apps look terrible because they are all a square with a white logo embedded. Instead of focusing on the item (the icon) that represents the app, it's the square (the tile) being given emphasis.
  • the example is stupid but the point is good.
  • I don't know if it's in their plans, but mobile based devices, such a tablets (or smaller "pocketable" versions ) could certainly benefit from live tiles. It's still what I miss the most looking at my boring Android GUI.
  • As far as mobile is concerned, coming from WP to Android it's clear that the consistency of live tiles (despite their limited functionality) is much more useful than the hit, or miss, nature of not so consistently available Android widgets. Although, Android Widgets functionality is something that WP users have asked for for years. We need the best of both worlds.
  • Live Tiles are basically useless. You might get lucky and it shows you something interesting, but then it becomes no more useful than an icon. You have to then click it like any other icon and hope you can find what interested you. They are consistent, that is true, consistently bad. Widgets aren't consistent, because different apps have different needs. A weather widget doesn't need the same look and features that an email widget needs. A music widget has different requirements than a fitness widget. "Consistent" means limited function and use cases. Consistent is not productive. It is merely aesthetic. If that is what you want, Apple does it better than anyone.
  • That's not what consistent means. I don't understand how you are always so wrong.
  • Well, he is consistently annoying. We gotta give him that🙄
  • Consistent means they look or operate similarly. In order to make Live Tiles consistent, Microsoft has to limit their functionality. They all could only show rotating square images with no buttons or interactivity. They later add chaseability, but that was way too late.
  • Consistency is also relative. There is a range of options between a rotating picture tile, and one that supports 5 interactions and 5 interactions only, or the free-for-all, do-whatever-you-want style of Android.
    I believe the perfect balance is a limited set of additional functionality to make Live Tiles perfect for the desktop:
    They have to take them out of Start and allow them on the desktop like gadgets on Windows 7, and they need to add a few predefined interactions.
    Pay attention to the Tile/Gadgets and their detail in the image below: This is part of an overhaul I suggested in this forum:
  • Wrong... There isn't even an official Widget for Facebook on Android , yet a live tile on WP7.0 can show you a reply someone did to your comment. This is the scenario with so many apps on Android.... Just stop🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️
  • Nothing worse than the Facebook Live Tile. It was actually the experience that turned me off Tiles. Nothing more frustrating than seeing an interesting post on the Facebook Live Tile and then not being able to find it. I don't use Facebook, but it took me seconds to find a Facebook widget. It looks fine and has theme support. It is resizeable, scrollable, interactive, and chaseable. Everything the Live Tile isn't. Live Tiles are terrible and contributed to the demise of Windows phone and Windows 8.
  • Dude.. Just Stfu already. Lol You don't use Facebook because you have no face... Stop the BS
  • Live Tile didn't contribute to Windows 10M demise. It didn't contribute at all unfortunately.
  • W10M was dead before it was even announced. Even Microsoft wasn't excited about it. Not sure why they even tried.
  • bleached, that's more pedantic than your usual self. Have you started an online course?
  • Well, I can agree that Live Tiles are not utialiced as much as they could have been, and thus does not come off as as useful as they could have been. But I do disagree with you in that they are basicly useless. I've been using live tiles on phones, and on everything pc, including my five display desktop. Full screen menu that is. And I really apriceate the at a glance information I get with just a quick push of the start button. The calendar tile is excellent, same goes for weather and other apps. They are very useful, even if I sometimes need to open the apps. Widgets, sure, I like the audible widget in that I can press buttons in it. The live time only shows info. But, on my Lumia I need only press the volume buttons to get play controls once the app is active. And I need to sacrifice a lot of extra real estate with the widget. The calendar Widget suffers from the same issue. To be useful it need to be large, and takes 2/3 of my display, and when swiping up or down I need to be careful not touching the widget, as I will then scroll the calendar instead of swiping. Same goes for the mail and other more or less useful widgets, like To-do. I can't replace the Live Tile experience I like from Windows on Android with widgets. Even with the possibility of more functionality, the experience are not as good, and I revert to just having icons tucked away in the app tray. I regret MS removing them, I'd rather have devs making better use of them.
  • That's not entirely true. I have a smart thermostat at my cottage and every time I bring up my Start menu I see the Live tile for the thermostat app and know the current temperature of the cottage and if anything is wrong. That is very reassuring to me, living in a cold climate, where I have to worry about freezing pipes, etc. I have a few other live tiles that also give me all of the information I need with a simple glance without ever needing to enter the app. I'm sure most of that could be replaced with "Notifications" but I like the reassurance I get from the actual data in the live tile. I also enjoy seeing current weather or the subject of my latest emails all with a single glance at my live tiles. It depends on the user, the apps, and their needs.
  • A widget gives you that and even could allow you to control the thermostat directly from the home screen.
  • Will this Core OS come to gamimg experience? Xbox UI needs a faster and newer experience
  • Yes, there is a version reportedly for Xbox, but not expected until at least late 2020 at this point.
  • Not super enthused by this unless they find some way to make legacy programs work, particularly games. It's cool for the less tech savvy if they even care about leaving iOS/Android, so there's that. Also, it looks like the share UI on the Android launcher which is as generic as you can get. I'm going to struggle to get excited as long as MS doesn't showcase the OS with an actual device that isn't ludicrously expensive and out of reach of normal folks like Hololens or the Hub. It's the same reason I lost my enthusiasm for Windows on ARM.
  • "Will it run Win32 programs? In the original pitch for Windows Core OS, legacy Win32 programs were not in the picture, not really. Today, however, Microsoft understands that if Windows Core OS is to ever have a chance, it needs to be able to run Win32 programs. Microsoft is exploring many different ways of bringing legacy program support to Windows Core OS, including virtually through remote and local emulation, and natively via something internally called "Win32usermode."
    Win32usermode will be made available where it makes sense, like on Santorini or Aruba. Making legacy program support a WCOS component means it won't interfere with the modern core of the operating system, keeping Windows Core OS clean and lightweight without losing out on legacy program support. It's very likely that this support will be limited to desktop apps in the Microsoft Store only, or sideloaded where appropriate using APPX or MSIX packaging. It's unlikely you'll be able to run pure, unaltered .exe's""
  • I read that part and I stand by what I say. If they plan to make folks and developers jump through hoops to re-access and/or rebuy programs they already bought outside of the store because of a misguided attempt to have their cake and eat it too, I'm still not excited. I like the idea behind Core OS of being able to update Windows and modify it more easily but I'm struggling to find the benefits of it from an app/program point of view as someone who is already invested in Windows and using programs on and off the store. Again, it's great for people who don't know how to work a PC but if it isn't Windows officially, then what about it is going make it so amazing to regular people (not tech enthusiasts) versus iOS/Android (both of which have tons of apps)? To make a comparison, the Surface was so incredible because it's a full PC in tablet form. The Switch wows people because they are playing AAA games on a handheld device. Core OS is being used on two devices that most people will never lay hands on and sticking it on a folding device sounds great but it lacks a wow factor now that folding phones are officially a thing and neither of those phones are running Windows, nor is Microsoft's name on either of them. Basically, they are making a Windows that is more like iOS/Android but will be starting behind the curve of both of them (yet again) because of twiddling their thumbs on the Windows store that exists now.
  • The question is, how can they tackle the fact that Win32 is old, outdated, incompatible with ARM, and does not offer the same security as UWP? The mistake is that they should have taken the Avalonia UI direction while conceiving of UWP; providing a cross platform UI framework so that developers flock to the Windows Store because development becomes much more pragmatic if you can just directly compile for different OS's. Avalonia is nice, but doesn't offer native compilation like UWP, and does not implement security features such as application permissions. Microsoft's efforts should be to provide a cross-platform UWP experience, because an OS cannot thrive without developer support.
  • win32 is compatible with ARM. UWP doesn't have the same flexibility as win32 and not many apps are UWP. There's react native as you know. Obviously it ain't great.
  • If you are looking to run legacy software on these devices, you are doing it wrong. Legacy Windows will be around for that. These are new devices and experiences. The old ones will still be around.
  • That's more or less what I'm trying to get at. I'm trying to figure out what this would offer to someone like me who already uses Windows on the regular and isn't particularly technically challenged. What non-astronomically expensive device is this going to be used on and what is going to make it amazing enough to get people to use it? Surface Pros took off because you had both the store AND legacy apps and the flexibility to do pretty much everything which is also what sells people on 2-in-1s in a similar vein. If they plan on eschewing legacy support except through the store then the experience needs to be improved now. If they plan to just make Core OS an answer to Chrome OS, then they'll also be behind the curve there too. Basically, the idea of this sounds good on paper but it needs to be done really well out of the gate and have as smooth a transition as possible. Just my opinion.
  • They can run legacy, but you would not run the heaviest type of legacy apps on them. I guess this is a smooth long term transition.
  • I get it that Windows Core OS will be for new Windows devices, but what about Composable Shell? Are current devices doomed to forever run this mishmash of UWP and Win32 elements, or we'll get a CShell take as well? Also, will we be able to install a suitable Windows Core OS take on our devices over our Windows 10 installation if we want, like going from XP to Vista and finally to 7, or will the OS require hardware elements that they don't have?
  • Someone didn't read the article... 😘
  • I did read it, thank you very much, it just happens that there's a world of difference between Microsoft not forcing an update to Windows Core OS through Windows Update and the user manually wipe your current device clean and install a brand new Windows Core OS copy. I'm also concerned about development of Windows 10, the Windows flavor that'll remain supported for developers, gamers and other Pro users, becoming stagnant as a result of not receiving modern elements like Composable Shell.
  • I hope I'm not understanding you wrong, and sorry if I am, but I don't think your current device will be updating to Core OS.
  • That was written in the article. I don't doubt that the poster was lying about reading but as my mother would, "reading isn't the problem. People can read. It's the comprehension that is the issue"
  • I'm excited to see what happens, and I hope Microsoft moves quickly with this before the competition surpasses them again. I'd also love to see an option for people with devices like the Surface Go test Windows Core OS and CShell.
  • after decades of getting burned by Microsoft (zune, phone, band, windows rt), here is my take: 1) all that stuff will die off and get cancelled when it yet again fails in the market. All these side operating systems are junk that will never work in a market dominated by android and its apps and apple and its devices. 2) the core-OS refactoring will live on as Microsoft needs to make updating windows easier and evolving it. Win10 will eventually be built on top of coreOS for serviceability and architecture reasons, but that's about as far as it will go. All of these experiences will never happen. It is the same old MS pipedream they've been selling for 15 years using silly actors and fake videos of an alternate reality. 3) The end-game is to eventually open source windows someday or at least parts of it just as they have with other projects. Not to say that is in our lifetimes that even the NT kernel will be on GitHub, but they have been cleaning up the mess that is windows for the better part of a decade starting on windows server where it finally can ship on footprints as small as some of the larger Linux images (still unable to match the smaller Linux scenarios though). Finally after years, they are getting to the UI. The last great bastion of "old" Microsoft bloated code. 4) if somehow HoloLens is not dead when google and apple kill it by taking over the consumer market while Microsoft toils away in irrelevance at the enterprise (only to be killed like iOS/Android then killed win-mo enterprise wide), then it *might* make sense for Oasis to survive. IF google and apple mess up. Ultimately the rule of thumb is Microsoft remains a completely incompetent company and unable to deliver in a timely fashion and incapable of competing with google and apple in the consumer space. They are always too late to the game. Unless that changes, 90% of this stuff is going to get killed. As always. And we all now Nadella is the ultimate reaper. I'm sure he's grinding his ax on all this as we speak, and setting the timer on these initiatives to meet goals.
  • It doesn't sound like you have any idea of what you're talking about. Did bleached hijack your account or something?
  • Lol. I doubt if he's smart enough to accomplish that
  • "all that stuff will die off and get cancelled when it yet again fails in the market."
    But HoloLens and Surface Hub are happening because they make money. Those are WCOS.
    "when google and apple kill it by taking over the consumer market"
    I do find it humorous that Microsoft is now on gen 2 of HoloLens and it's being used by schools, surgeons, military, engineers, construction, etc. yet devices from Apple and Google - of which there are NONE - is already, in your mind, going to beat Microsoft. Forget the fact that by all accounts Microsoft's hardware is years ahead of anything out in the market. I get being cynical, but that's just bizarre. You're not even betting on vaporware's meta vaporware in your imagination.
  • "HoloLens and it's being used by schools, surgeons, military, engineers, construction" Just because some institutions with deep pockets threw some money into a couple of units, doesn't mean someone inside actually uses it. And I can bet nobody does. I actually know a few companies in my country that did exactly that. Where does your stat come from? Microsoft press or people working on HL? lol "yet devices from Apple and Google - of which there are NONE - is already, in your mind, going to beat Microsoft." He probably speaks in accordance with history. You know: phones, wearables, speakers, tablets just to name a few. Also, Apple is known to not pull out unfinished lab crap in prototype/concept phase to people (with a very very very few exceptions) just for the sake of claiming they are first, which is very pathetic, but actual working products that people can use and will enjoy. When Apple does something, Apple does it right and becomes the absolute dominant king in its (category+price tag), something Microsoft can only dream of. Oh and the numbers say so. "Forget the fact that by all accounts Microsoft's hardware is years ahead of anything out in the market." You guys never understood that nobody gives two sh*ts about hardware, software etc. It's the EXPERIENCE that matters. And the only company on the planet that understands that is Apple. They don't have the top hardware, nor the top software, nor the top services, but people enjoy and love Apple because the overall experience is outstanding and with unmatched standards. Microsoft on the other hand is a complete crap... Your hardware specs and empty numbers mean absolutely nothing and Apple is showing it to you every year. Making more cash than every other company on the planet. Why? Because people love Apple products and they're experiences and they continue to buy them. Nothing meta here.
  • New Mac NBs are kinda crappy tho... and that Magic Mouse 2's charge port...
    Google, Sony, Amazon, etc too dropped services and products, if it's not making any money / no user / no future. > EXPERIENCE that matters
    iTunes corrupts backups, backup can become incompatible with newer iOS version.
    xCode is a disaster. "People who designed this software must be an alien" from programmers who deal with Jenkins and xCode. No menu key for Mac. Lacks window manipulation and UI elements access shortcuts. Resize-window-from-any-corner is finally implemented in 2012. I don't know about Windows older than win95, but that feature is in win95. On iOS. You cannot swipe on a textfield to get to the end of the text like we do on Android or Windows. You cannot switch AP directly in Quick Settings. Updates bricked phones, updates broke auto corrections, broke "Phone" app, data were wiped, camera ceased to work, etc, etc.
    > swipe on a textfield
    Someone told me once, "but you can bring up a cursor by touching the keyboard which turns it into a trackpad". Sure, but try pasting a long url into your safari's adress bar and see how many time you need to turn your KB into a trackpad, to get to the end (or head) of the url.
  • Bar the Macbook's keyboards, Apple do have experience down well. The issues you cite are minimal and xCode is a developer issue, not a mainstream one. That said, the experience of spending $2,000 more on a laptop because of rip-off ram and ssd upgrade costs and being forced to buy the top CPU just to access a GPU upgrade is an experience I don't want to have!
  • First doesn't always mean best, and we have seen that many times before, even between Apple & Microsoft. Look back at when desktops were just starting to make their way into the average consumer, it started with Apple for a short period of time, but then look at how Microsoft took that away. And what about the iPad? It may still be popular, but the Surface made a relatively quick comeback. I think the same will happen for phones, I think that in the near future Microsoft will become strong competition for Apple's iPhone & Google's Android. Maybe not this year, maybe not even next year, but soon (although I personally will be buying the device the second it becomes available!). I believe this because of the fact that Microsoft is looking at long term instead of being greedy like Apple & Google.
  • Have you been obsessively honing that comment for months in your cave? Well, the effort shows.
  • I think this Windows Core OS is a good way for Microsoft to go but I think it will take 2 to 3
    more years for Microsoft to get it right. The coming 2 touch screen Courier type folding
    Tablet will be the TEST device that will show everyone if Windows Core OS Santorini version
    works smooth enough for users to want to use it.
  • Be interesting to see if Core OS will one day make into server land too somehow.
  • "Andromeda OS and Polaris are considered "dead." Santorini is a suitable replacement for both of them."
    Santorini is not a suitable replacement if it doesn't have live tiles for those users who want them.
  • It doesn't matter if you think people want them, Microsoft has done the research, and it turns out most people don't care about live tiles. Simple as. If they did, iOS/Android would've copied them by now. People just want to launch their apps and quickly and efficiently as possible. A static icon gets the job done.
  • IDK, Zac.. It's kind of hard to argue that point with you because you are right, but if I had to argue that point I would say it's more of the fact that people don't know of any better way because it has not been thoroughly presented to them by a popular OS, rather than the fact that the majority has tried live tiles, and said that they don't like them. Longest sentence ever; I know. To test my theory; I bet if WP came first, with all the apps, and cool hardware, the world would be stuck on live tiles. That would mean that it's more habit than anything, not that people don't like them. It's like saying a bunch of cake eaters don't like pie when they've never had pie before because cake was literally (and figuratively) shoved down their throats their entire life. Lol😂
  • Setting something up to fail and then claiming you have telemetry data to show people don't use it doesn't prove anything. What it shows is that you can't be bothered to change it so it becomes something that more people would want to use.
  • Why all this argument as though there can be only one shell imposed on all? It's just a shell. It's _composable_.
  • Agreed. As is today, you should be able to turn the live tiles on or off. Choice for the user is an important thing.
  • "So for now, Andromeda OS and Polaris are considered "dead." Santorini is a suitable replacement for both of them."
    Santorini, the one with old icons, and without live tiles? That's not a suitable replacement for anything. The best WCOS was that you first showed with CShell for Windows mobile. The best UI for mobile, that share much with desktop. And with Continuum becomes the real desktop UI. That is the best from both worlds. That Santorini can't get even close.
  • I love your rebuttals Dan.
    It's like the commenter have no future vision. In my opinion Apple would have not gotten to iPhone 3g with out the insight to build the OS the way they did. Heck when it launched Samsung instinct was a better device software wise but that software was dead end. Same story with winmo Ile 7. Wcos is an attempt to keep history from repeating itself... And android and ios dot have the flexibility to run everywhere. For example a uwp wc app for oasis would run on a wcos watch and that is the vision of uwp Apple and Google are not there. The real-time example is HL2 and everything u said about competitor meta vaporware.
  • "You'll likely find that over time, the Windows 10 we know today will become the option for power-users, enterprises and gamers, and Windows Core OS will become the option for everyone else. Just like how Apple is trying to position macOS as the power-user option, and iOS as the option for everyone else." Something that I think is sort of overlooked with this sentiment is that light users can and want to become heavy users. It's not a category, it's a structure.
  • Santorini will, over time, become the next generation version of Windows that'll be able to handle those heavy tasks too. Microsoft knows users flow in and out of lite/heavy computing, and Santorini will accommodate for this.
  • I don't see MS not making a WCOS version for actual PCs. Windows market is essentially PC, they wouldn't put so much effort in this project only for few Hololens, few XBox and few new form factors devices.
    That would explain why MS slow down considerably the development of the current Windows 10: only few features per upgrade, a lot UI inconsistencies, the new Settings which is not on par with the control panel.
    My only hope is that they won't wait for too long to push a WCOS version with full Win32 support so they can restart the machinery to bring us more features per updates.
  • FINALLY. Someone who is thinking realistically! I know one person who got a new laptop with Windows 10 S. They were disappointed that they had to fork out money to install Chrome and Office.
  • Is this windows a linux kernel based?
  • I doubt it.
  • I still think Microsoft should rethink their decision on building a 6" or sub 6" device (the so called mobile phone). Just like we all would like a tablet around the house that runs Windows, some of us have the need for a pocket sized one when on the go too. I know they think they do not have what it takes to compete, reputation could be damaged or market share crippled yadda yadda. They are not empowering a ton of people everywhere by leaving out the pocketable form factor option. I am just one person so it really is not up to me as being their deciding factor, but they should rethink...I am not dragging my tablet out in the garage and gonna try to cram it in my pocket every time I need to use tools. Android definitely cannot run the type of Software I would be using in those situations to be an option.
  • Thank you Zac for a very detailed article. I think what is really important is these small form factor devices need to also house the desktop CShell so they can dock to a full workstation. This is where computing needs to go. Were paying over a thousands dollars for a phone now that has incredible computing power. It is such a waste that this thousand dollar phone is locked into something so tiny. There is no reason a phone cannot be your only computer now with a docking station. If I was to envision my perfect computer fleet, I would have a phone running WCOS with phone and desktop CShells, and then I would have something the size of a Surface Go (but with like an i7 in it) with tablet and desktop CShells. These would be the only two devices I would need. It would cover all the form factor needs with only two computers (this also implies I would have a docking station with 4K monitor, full keyboard, and mouse, where I could dock my phone or Go like device). I do think Microsoft should not give up on a pocketable PC. If they don't make one, then hopefully an OEM will make one. I followed the Andromeda saga since Oct of 2017. I never really cared that it folded. I just wanted something that was pocketable and could be docked as a full computer. I just got off my Windows 10 Mobile phone. Switched to an iPhone. I can now say there are things that Microsoft really got right with Windows 10 Mobile. There are things I feel I have lost going to iOS and not really anything gained. So I have faith in Microsoft they can make small form factor devices and an OS to go with it. One thing I would like to stress about these new lite, small form factor version of WCOS. I hope to God they don't limit them to one app instance per app. Window 10 Mobile did this and so does iOS. You need be able to open up multiple instances of the same app. If you have to get classic Windows just to have this, then WCOS will fail. A duel screen device will be handicaped if you couldn't put two Word documents side by side. Also, just having icons of apps for launching things will not be enough. You need a quick way to get to content (e.g. documents, URLs, OneNote pages, Map favorite, etc.). Content is what drive workflow; not apps. That is why tiles failed on the desktop. There is no way to pin content like you can with desktop icons. The start tiles on Window 10 Mobile was way better than on Window 10, and I'm not sure why it turned out this way. On Windows 10 Mobile, you could pin all kinds of content. I don't care if they get rid of start tiles, but they cannot get rid of quick access to content. iOS seriously gets this wrong. It takes so many taps to get to the content you want.
  • I'm no OS designer but your idea that it's about getting to content quickly resonates with me. Ironically, my problem is usually that Windows 10 doesn't know which folder I want to open. I just want it to know from context. And that's not about form factors, that's about AI, the OS being smart enough to anticipate my moves.
  • Google's recent leaked next generation Glass with LTE running on Snapdragon 710 with USB-C could represent a future version of Hololens 3 or most likely 4 that is a "pocket form factor replacement" targeting consumer market. If Google shares this in May, with Deep AI hand/finger tracking without depth sensor but through a high resolution camera, we will be seeing "the beginning of the end of the pocket form factor" that I believe lies the future core strategy of Microsoft long term vision to plot a come back and compete in the mobile consumer space. If Microsoft is able to close the cloud gaps with AWS, it will be more exciting to see how Microsoft closes the gaps in mobility consumer space dominated by iOS and Android devices through WCOS. A new variant of extremely light and energy efficient WCOS, running on the next next generation of Snapdragon chips with 5G, could appear in consumer(C) Hololens-C at MWC, Barcelona 2021. "Let us revisit this article in 2 years"!
  • When Microsoft obsoleted my 950XL in June 2016, I was frustrated like most of the consumers here. I put my hope on the promise of Andromeda and pitched "religiously" on the many business use cases of a foldable pocket form factor. Although the form factor devices is starting to appear this year, they still miss many of my wishlist - because they are not Andromeda and not running on WCOS 😁. After seeing Hololens 2 in Feb 2019, I am now looking forward to see the day when there is a viable consumer alternative to the pocket form factor that can totally free my hands in 2 years.
  • It's not coming to least 2020.
  • oml it really is a religion. please, give up the ghost.
  • That sad to hear About Andromeda and Polaris. I guess I'm gonna have to pay Microsoft work on Andromeda os and Polaris os. that is what want for my hardware company. 'cause I love the tiles.
  • Can't wait to come back to this article in 2 years and see once again how literally nothing WC has predicted became truth. Just take a look at their articles for the past few years. Only imaginary bs.
  • But Surface Hub 2 and HoloLens 2 are already running WCOS, so we're right on that. Also, find any other reputable site to dispute what is written here. You can't, you won't. So sure, let's take your dumb bet. You already lost. Also, let's see: August 2017 I said get ready for $1,000 phones. That came true as now we have $2,000+ ones too. January 2018 I told you dual-screen laptops are coming and Yoga Book 2 and prototypes from Intel and Asus showed up 6 months later. Plenty of examples where we got things right. But sure, Microsoft changes course, things get cancelled or pushed back. Not our fault, nor is it our fault if you can't follow the trends.
  • Hm. So another Windows which will be "again" universal. They tried that with 8 and Universal Applications. Then they claimed that 10 will have trully universal software with Universal Windows Platform. Yes, it is possible to execute software developed for desktop on mobile. But it wasn't usable with software which has more complex UI than calculator. You still need to write UI separated for desktop and mobile. And still need to write a lot of checking if that API is available on mobile or not. Only benefit is that I don't need to have two VS openeded and can be done in one project. And I bet same will be here with WCOS. With 10 they said, no more Windows anymore, only one. Yes. How many streams they needed to maintain in 2018? And now, one more to maintain, separated WCOS...
  • Great article! Thanks for clearing up my confusion about Windows Core OS and all it's flavors.
  • My take on this... Is that Microsoft is coming back full circle to the original intent of Windows NT. Not many people realize that Dave Cutler (the man behind the old DEC PDP operating system) when he came to Microsoft envisioned a layered operating system. The OS would be completely processor independent, meaning that only the very lower level would written for a specific processor (Intel, DEC Alpha, Motorola, ARM, or what ever future hardware would come forth). This was the HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer). Above HAL, was the System API layer. Which was the at the time the Win32, and O/S2 layers (they ran side by side). But it allowed the idea to add or remove API's in future, because Dave knew things would change. Above that would be the GUI for the operating system. Here you could make changes the look and interaction for the user. Think "Skinning". Finally the level above that was the programs (aka Apps now). Here's the real kicker of Dave's original intent of Windows NT... When you wrote and compiled a program, you only did it ONCE! You could take that final .exe and copy it any machine whether it be a DEC Alpha, MIPS, Intel, ARM, etc. and just run it. No need to recompile it, or do anything, just copy it over and go. Even if the GUI layer was changed (a different "skin") the program would still run. "Compile once, run anywhere" was the idea. Granted, I this is a VERY OVERSIMPLIFIED explanation. This is what I see Microsoft is going back to. Each layer is independent of each other. As long as the rudimentary API's in each layer have the same name, MS can make changes, improvements, and it shouldn't effect the next layer above, i.e. Windows Core OS trying to go to a Processor Independent, GUI independent, Compile Once-run anywhere Programs/Apps, operating systm Now why this didn't happen in the very beginning is that layering did have some performance issues with certain processors at the time. Sacrifices were made to make Windows NT run faster on those processors, and in doing so, the layering and over all concept that Dave wanted was changed (even though it was championed that eventually those processors would "catch up" and the performance issues would be a non-issue. Which is where we are today, with most processors being able to handle the layering and overall concept).
  • Thx for a historical perspective. With "always on" as a valid customer use case, the OS needs to be additionally lean and yet agile enough to support different UI AND counter Chrome OS with agility.
  • Great write up, thanks.
  • Great article, easy to understand all the differences and what MS's investing for the future. As long as I can do
    1. XPA.
    2. xCloud.
    3. Full PC browse for extensions.
    4. OneDrive on Demand.
    5. Pen related usage.
    on a 6" Centaurus, I'll be happy to throw away my Nexus.
    Email, news, messenger, the common stuffs can be done on every OS and WebToApp will be there, maybe MS might provide something similar outta box.
  • Well detailed and comprehensive. Thank you, Zack.
  • So, what'll happen when I plug in my android phone via USB into a Santorini laptop to transfer media?
  • We need more Windows **** versions! Where is WoA or Windows S? Core OS is another thing for Microsoft OS graveyard.
  • I'm reading between the lines: Windows classic will be parked on a dead track like Windows10 mobile. Maintained but without innovations...sounds good!
  • It means the pocket device is dead.
  • Are live tiles dead? Live tiles are so much more intuitive than widgets on Android (now Android widgets are considered almost dead as well), and if Microsoft is going to ditch them they would at least need an alternative way to collectively display information like Google's Assistant Feed. Microsoft Launcher's feed also seems like a good way to achieve that. Also, will Cortana survive the switch and finally be more usable? Lack of a useful voice assistant in Windows 10 compared to Android (especially as Cortana isn't even supported where I live) is frustrating considering how much the voice assistants help boost productivity and how Windows is supposed to be focused on productivity. Finally, will the Windows Classic follow its Core OS counterparts in terms of UX and functionalities? Or vice versa, will the Windows Core OS be able to catch up with Windows Classic in terms of apps ecosystem? Does Microsoft have detailed plans for closing the gap between Windows Classic and Windows Core OS?
  • Digital Assistants help improve productivity
    Best joke of the day lmao.
  • >widgets and live tiles are dead uh. weather widgets are the best thing ever
  • While it does make sense to keep Windows Classic around for a few years while Windows Core OS evolves, I do not see why they would keep Windows Classic at all in the far future. If the intent is to make Windows Core OS modular, then for a "PROFESSIONAL" or POWER USER, they could create all the required modules needed for Windows Core OS to turn it exactly into a Windows Classic if you understand what I mean. It would be a huge overhead and waste of resources to continue to maintain Windows Classic, especially if they don't even intent to have it evolve as fast. It seems it would make a lot more sense to create the necessary modules for power users and have those available for Windows Core OS and for those who don't like change then they just don't update modules when they come available.
  • I'd say the reason for keeping Win Classic is so that they won't have to create those said modules early on else they'd have to delay WCOS for that factor if they wanted it to be on feature parity with Classic. Since having the effort on virtualizing / containerizing win32 apps in a way that it still works as intended is a big effort that may take years to accomplish (note win32's public API surface is huge due to it being quite old). This way they won't have to make promises and can go for a Lite version first and slowly build the modules there. Once WCOS gets matured enough and they have done proper tests then they can slowly update classic to use WCOS with a win32 layer bundled. It'd probably be still called Windows 10 at that point since most users won't notice a difference as most of the updates will be under the hood.
  • So if Windows 10 becomes Windows Classic, let them call WCOS, Windows Evo, which would stand for Windows Evolution or Evolutions. I think this would be a great name for it!
    Like in: "My tablet runs on (Windows) Evo".
    But considering how bad MS is at naming things...
  • OneNote, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Project, Zune, Encarta, Visio, Publisher, InfoPath, Access, FrontPage, Surface, Studio, I would challenge and say that MS is great at naming things.....
  • Now everyone is using studio lmao
  • Was this article updated or something? It would be helpful to highlight what was updated.
  • Yes! I agree, Darkness.
    Usually the author is good at this, but not this time. I read the entire article again, while comparing it to my WCOS map in Microsoft Whiteboard (heavily inspired by Zacs) - and it was a good refresher and update. Here's what I think was updated, based purely on my memory of the first edition of the article.
    - Mentions of Andromeda and Polaris being "dead" for now (put on the backburned indefinitely or made obsolete by Santorini)
    - Updated description of Oasis (specific HoloLens2)
    - Big update to the Santorini section
    - Small update to "When is WCOS coming?" with mentions of expectations of a fall event (maybe)
  • Hey Zac, you wrote regarding Win32 support, "It's unlikely you'll be able to run pure, unaltered .exe's.". What!!!!???? That would be very limiting. How will you even be able to run Office?
  • So Core is needed so that MS doesn't want to have a version of windows for every device that comes along. Fair point. However, I suggest that MS lost focus on this when they decided to vacate the mobile space hardware. They then needed to react to other makers rather than be proactive with their own offerings. After that decision they were exposed to other companies making decisions that effectively hamstrung MS. That's the core reason for CoreOS and sadly it's unlikely to solve MS' real problem. MScan write all the software they like but unless thay also command a place in the handheld, pocket-sized hardware component of the market, yes that's phones, they will be shoveling stuff uphill with a pointed stick.
  • I'm so excited to this Core OS, esp, it is going to give the change for hardware partners to create and invest in modern devices than what we are used to when it comes for baying a Widows device.
  • I will not settle for anything less then the original MS Courier concept (with today's top-notch processor, screens etc.) developed for a niche market of creative folks that want a real digital Moleskine kind of device to use as their mobile platform/vault for annotating, collecting idea's sketch, draw, jot, write reflect, brainstorm etc.
  • Centaurus (foldable version of Santorini) ... a bigger form factor of Andromeda.. will drive some OEMs perhaps 2020 to test the market demand of Andromeda-like device...
  • I don't think Microsoft is just going to abandon Win32 and just going to bake it as containerized or emulated apps like it did on Windows on ARM
  • I would love to be able to switch to the Aruba timeline focused menu or something like the Microsoft Launcher menu in the Modern PC build as they make much more sense in productivity builds. The slavish binding to the Win95 and on Start menu has really hamstrung UX development in Windows.
  • Hmmmm sounds a lot like the return of that Disk Operating System that you could boot into a shell of some sorts and even a fancy Windows Shell, what was that OS that ran on everything o ya DOS.....
  • How about showing what's updated in this article instead of forcing readers to reread everything from top to bottom needlessly?
  • +1.
    It's really hard to find what's changed.
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  • Pls do article like.... "What is next in Win Core OS" otherwise... the readers are left with sense of little progress and clear milestones in this new OS.
  • Recently walking cat asked Microsoft PMs what is the future of UWP... This is more urgent a topic than Win Core OS. Please raise more awareness of the questionable future of UWP and the future roles of UWP played in Win Core OS..
  • Truly "Universal" UWP is coming through Uno platform
  • Sounds like another ambitious project that will suffer at the hand of Microsoft's poor decision making and premature abandonment. I can't wait!
  • Hey Zac, I have a question for you and Dan. After reading your article I started to wonder if the original continuum was little more than an extended experiment to gather data for WCOS. Some of the things you have talked about sound like continuum on steroids. Have your contacts mentioned anything like that during your discussions?
  • If they don't bring their adaptable shell experience to windows 10 proper, they'll have betrayed their whole concept of a unified adaptable singular OS. They MUST create a cshell variant with full win32 capability, and all the normal networking functions for enterprise. They know power users are out there, and we will be JUST as insulted if they choose to leave us behind in functionality, as if they force us to change our workflow. Won't business users want their shell to adapt when using remote desktop, or server based applications? Won't gamers want the xbox media experience? To think that we either get, store only limited experience OR an adaptable shell is insulting. They need to do better.
  • That concept died years ago. They aren't trying to build a singular, adaptable OS anymore. They will be similar, but destinct operating systems and it would be surprising if they are even called Windows. The final nail in the adaptable OS was killing UWP at Build this year. No universal apps means no universal operating system.
  • Hey MS, Can we get a WCOS wearable? Missing my band. :(
  • "Windows Core OS devices will be for new device experiences, and people who simply don't need everything Windows 10 today has to offer. " Just like the tremendously successful Windows RT and Windows 10 S Mode! LOL...
  • I agree in that in this day and age, an ARM version of this new OS may be more feasible for Microsoft to release. It's true most people don't actually require x86/x64 support on their mobile not so powerful devices, and sure RT was a failure but MS didn't have office 365 back then. With the massive office 365 subscription numbers (180million+) and the increased popularity of cloud computing, MS can initially target that group by ensuring the new OS runs the full office 365 suite. What they need is another surface pro, i.e. a not too expensive 'hero' device that catches peoples eyes. If MS can get a massive adoption rate, developers will follow.
  • Hopefully the 2nd Oct is not solely hardware, but with new insight of What Centaurus means to developers and if the comparable shell API is accessible.
  • coming soon.... until it's not
  • I still like the timeline-centric collaborative display launcher the best, it seems the most productivity oriented.
  • Thanks for adding info about what was updated, Zac 😄
  • I can imagine for ICT and developers these could be exciting times. As a consumer and business user I'm less excited about the future of windows and the new and upcoming skews and modules. I fell in love with windows mobile UX and UI. I think the new model does not excuse me from a productivity and software design standpoint as live tiles are increasingly less part of the conversion. As I see it the new is windows XP in a new jacket. Its bland, possibly gets the job done. Faster updates, in my view, is avoiding the conversation of poor quality control with windows updates and relevant things breaking that users have to fix at their cost and time. I think that is a poor business model and practice for the end user.
    For the surface I have faith in the hardware, but I don't have faith in the quality of software you get for your investment as an end user. I see it even now with windows on surface. These issues trend to continue into future legacies if not addressed today. As long as I don't see Micosoft catch up on this matter very very soon, history wil repeat itself in the foreseeable future. Micrisoft is good in starting off strong, but loses off steam quickly once on a role in time. Microsoft may say they're playing the long game, but that also entails following through. And the lawyer is where I see they still need to learn to improve on greatly to make great software that complements the hardware and that also has value and meaning for the end user. After all we still call them "personal" computers or pc.
  • I don't really get it. The apps that I care about are win32 apps. Firefox, Chrome and even MS Edge are all win32. Microsoft Office is win32 with the exception of OneNote which:
    1) doesn't have a suite-wide UI
    2) lacks many features
    3) from a development standpoint, it lacks many features because most things came free with their other framework Settings still doesn't have all of the options from Control Panel. Electron apps like Spotify and Slack are win32 too. There are of course web apps but I might as well go with a Linux distro like Ubuntu or Plasma in that case. So um. What's the point in making Windows for regular laptops, tablets and desktops "Classic"/"legacy"? Yes, I know that it'll apparently support win32 apps but they are being deprioritised. This is really only useful for foldables, MR, Xbox and collaborative displays.
  • I like the concept for the Windows Core OS but feel the following is also necessary. 1) Create a new world-class development environment for the UI framework (i.e. C-Shell) that is very simple and highly visual. Very much like developing windows forms applications were way back in the Visual Basic 6 days. The key word here is simple. Also, a set of guidelines and standards should be published to help improve the consistency of newly developed applications. The development environment/templates should aide the developer in adhering to those standards. 2) Create a world class store experience. The application packaging tech used for the store should be the same used for installing apps in a more traditional sense through a web download. 3) Have the ability to install legacy Win32 support through a simple add-on/module All legacy Win32 applications would run in a virtualized/isolated container for security reasons. The fact the application is running in a virtual environment would be transparent to the user.