Windows 10 Lean: What is Microsoft’s new lightweight Windows 10 build actually all about?
A developer has noticed that the latest early access (‘Skip Ahead’) build of Windows 10 appears to include a new edition of the operating system. Dubbed Windows 10 Lean, this operating system is a cut down version that seems to be designed to run on low-powered machines – or maybe even in the cloud. Here’s everything we know about Microsoft’s Windows 10 Lean OS so far.
According to Twitter used Lucan (who first noticed the edition, H/T MSPowerUser), the build is 2GB lighter than the standard Windows 10 Pro installer, and cuts out superfluous options such as desktop wallpapers.
Regedit appears to be missing, but CMD and reg.exe are present and accounted for. In total there are over 50,000 files that have been stripped out of Windows 10 Pro for the Lean release, and they include some pretty hefty programs including Internet Explorer, Mail, Windows Media Player and PowerShell. Inside Windows has a full list of the missing files.
We don’t know yet what Microsoft intends to do with this new version of Windows 10. Its stripped down functionality implies that it could be a good fit for low-powered notebooks, but the lack of user-friendly features like wallpapers implies to us that it might be destined for enterprise users. Could the presence of Windows 10’s telephony APIs indicate that this is an OS meant for smartphones, potentially even the mythical Microsoft Surface Phone?
No one knows for sure, but there are a host of possibilities.
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Windows 10 Lean Release Date: A Windows 10 for every occasion?
This new Windows 10 ‘Lean’ version brings the total number of Windows 10 SKUs up to around 13, including not just the consumer orientated ‘Home’ and ‘Pro’ varients, but also ‘S’, ‘Enterprise’ and ‘Education’.
With so many sectors already covered off, we’re scratching our heads trying to work out what market the new OS could possibly be for. We thought Windows 10 S was the version of the OS meant for low-end devices, but could ‘Lean’ be set to hit lower-powered devices still, such as the smart phones use case mentioned above? Or is Lean set to replace 10 S entirely now that the former version has been turned into a mode for Windows 10 rather than a distinct operating system.
The lack of a formal announcement from Microsoft makes us think this is intended to be a niche product for specialist users, but it’s an interesting development from a company that recently de-prioritised its flagship operating system in favour of its cloud and AI efforts.
Little is known of when Windows 10 Lean might be released to the general public – if at all – but we’d expect to learn more at Microsoft’s annual Build developer conference, which is taking place in Washington State between May 7-9 in 2018.
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