Mary Jo FoleyModeratorApr 18, 2019 at 9:42 am #616457
Windows Lite — which may not be called Windows at all once it ships — doesn’t look much like Windows. It’s expected to build on top of the new Windows Core OS platform and (at some point) run Win32 apps along with UWP ones. Windows Lite is Microsoft’s latest attempt to create a “modern” OS that could potentially appeal to the education market, firstline workers and general consumers.
Microsoft has not yet officially announced or even acknowledged Windows Lite. But Brad Sams, the Executive Editor of Petri.com, has been at the forefront of digging up information about the coming release.
What questions do you have for Brad about Windows Lite? I’ll be chatting with him on April 29 and will ask some of your best Windows Lite questions directly to Brad.
gregaltoParticipantApr 22, 2019 at 9:10 am #616482
Why is this time going to work, when S/RT failed?
ashdrewnessParticipantApr 22, 2019 at 10:42 pm #616485
Thanks for taking the time to cover this topic Mary, and thank you Brad for your coverage over the past few months. I come from an organization pursuing Google ecosystem growth and am intrigued by Microsoft’s efforts in what I’ll call a “Cloud OS” similar to Google’s. A few questions:
-As this is being touted as a Chrome OS compete, what technical characteristics do you foresee Lite sharing with the Chrome OS? Such as a “Powerwash” feature for a reset of the OS to factory defaults. Similarly, will the base OS image always be the same and users can simply make an OS recovery key themselves like with Chrome OS?
-Will the OS be free like Chrome OS essentially is?
-Do you foresee it being an OS option on any OEM device in the future or will it only work on certain HW?
-Google’s model is to market the Chrome OS as a free part of a Chromebook, but with the purchase of a “Chrome Enterprise License” it can then be managed in an “Enterprise” environment; further enabling features such as SSO, AD integration, app policies etc. How do you feel Microsoft will market Lite? Will they market their Office 365 Frontline plans with it or offer some new package related to M365?
-Starting in 2017, Google started positioning Chrome OS as a solution for “Enterprise” environments (commercial non-EDU) in addition to EDU (where Chrome OS now dominates). They’ve mostly targeted frontline workers but have recently also mentioned Knowledge Workers. Per Google announcements at their NEXT conference earlier this month, a fair number of large companies have been performing proof of concepts of Chrome OS in their environments for certain use cases. The selling point being security, ease of deployment, ease of updating/maintenance, battery life, potential shared device usage models, etc. How do you expect Microsoft to counter Google’s positioning of Chrome OS in commercial (non-EDU) environments? If companies do start pursuing a “Cloud OS” model will Microsoft risk cannibalism of their current Windows 10 ecosystem for the frontline worker use cases in fear of Google stealing OS market share in another arena (after EDU)?
bartParticipantApr 28, 2019 at 12:23 pm #616614
Will Windows Lite be based on Windows 10 or Chrome OS as suggested by this guy called Paul Thurrott? You might know him :)
And when do you expect Windows Lite to be tested now that we most likely won’t hear about Lite at BUILD?
If Windows Lite is going to be tested, will it require special hardware? If so, what do I need to save my monies up for?
- This reply was modified 10 months ago by bart.
bartParticipantApr 28, 2019 at 12:26 pm #616615
If Windows Lite is based on Windows (10), will it be able to run Android apps?
Brad SamsKeymasterMay 01, 2019 at 12:20 pm #616723
You can find the audio recording, here.
Mary Jo Foley: 00:04
Hi, you’re listening to Petri.com MJFChat show. I am Mary Jo Foley, AKA
your Petri.com community magnet and I’m here to ask industry experts about
various topics that you, our readers, want to know about. Today’s MJFChat
is all about Microsoft’s Windows Lite release and my guest today is Brad
Sams, the executive editor of Petri.com and someone who’s been at the
forefront of digging up some really interesting Windows Lite gold. Thank
you so much for joining us Brad.
Brad Sams: 00:37
Thank you Mary Jo. It’s fun to talk about this stuff because it’s so
bleeding edge. It’s not even on an edge yet, but we know it’s coming and
it’s going to be a big deal for Microsoft when it does arrive. We just are
still trying to figure out exactly when that’s going to be.
Mary Jo Foley: 00:55
I like your thinking on that. A little inside baseball for you listeners,
Brad and I actually proposed through the official channels a session on
Windows Lite at Build. We did not do this as a joke. We should point out.
We got shut down. We actually thought there was a case to be made for some
early dialogue around this, what this is and how it should evolve. But the
session keepers at Build did not agree with us so we decided to take this
to MJFChat and have the same discussion here.
Brad Sams: 01:26
Yep. Because you know, if they don’t want us to show must go on.
Mary Jo Foley: 01:30
Exactly. So Brad, let’s start with a little context for any of our readers
or listeners who may not have heard a lot about Windows Lite. So what is
this thing and why should we care?
Brad Sams: 01:41
So Windows Lite is going to be, and I don’t say this too lightly, I think
one of the more interesting things Microsoft does over the next 18 months
depending on how they play it out. But what it is is it’s going to be there
first. And I, I don’t want to say real attempt in competing with Chromo OS
cause we can document some other attempts. But Microsoft is trying to build
a light version of Windows that they hope will compete with that. The
Chromebook style devices of the world and modernize windows to some extent
to make things just a little bit more modernized because the windows that
we use today, while it has been upgraded and there’s lots of great stuff in
there, it’s still the same basic idea of Windows XP not much has changed,
you know, modernizing it. We saw them trying to do things with like Windows
phone and then we have Windows S and RT and all that stuff. Microsoft has
put their best of breed according to people who are familiar with the
company’s plans on developing Windows Lite. It’s going to be, well just a
modern version of Windows. It’s going to look familiar and yet it’ll look
different at the same time.
Mary Jo Foley: 02:48
Do you even think it’s going to be called Windows?
Brad Sams: 02:50
I don’t think it will be. I heard that they are trying to move away from
that. My gut tells me that it will be something recognizable to Microsoft
and I don’t know what that is exactly, but it would not surprise me if they
actually removed the name windows from it because that brings with it its
own set of expectations, which you could probably argue doom some of the
other attempts, right? When you say windows, you expect backwards
compatibility, you expect to be able to run any application that you own.
You expect to be able to just download things from the web. But I don’t
think that’s going to be the case with this next version. Microsoft I think
is approaching it very, very cautiously and it’s going to be exciting.
Mary Jo Foley: 03:33
I do too. Since we brought it up in kind of in a roundabout way, let’s
bring in a reader question from Greg Alto. He said, “why is this going to
work this time when S mode and Windows RT failed?” So we made some veiled
references to previous attempts and you know, they did try to compete with
Chrome OS, in those two ways. But why do you think this could work this
time if you do think that?
Brad Sams: 03:57
So it’s honestly a very fair question. First off, I think Windows 10S,
honestly I think we can just write that off. That was a very poor attempt
at everything. It almost, I don’t want to say reactionary, it was just a
very awkward announcement at a very awkward sort of of education based
event. And then they didn’t really explain why S mode was ever going to be
better. That was the one thing I remember leaving that event was saying,
okay, they’ve said it’s going to be better, but they never actually proved
it and all they do with some weird boot up time, which how often do people
reboot their machines anymore? Not all that much. I think the real
competitor was RT and there were a lot of things going wrong there. You had
Windows 8, which was not universally loved by well many people or anyone
Brad Sams: 04:43
You had a really weak store. The web apps weren’t really there and so on.
Why is Windows Lite going to succeed? I think it’s because they went back
to the drawing board and first off we have things like a better browser,
which was seriously lacking in some of the older stuff. So we now have a,
what we think that we use as a chromium base browser. We also have
progressive web apps are really taking off. Microsoft is actually doing
some quality work to the UI. And so it’s hard to underestimate how much
changing the UI can just change a user’s perception on day one. And by not
making those expectations of it, just being windows I think is going to
help them. If they do the branding correctly, I think that will help them
Brad Sams: 05:37
The other thing I think they have going for them too during all of this is
that the Internet has just kind of grown up. We have these progressive web
apps. We have the ability to just run apps completely in a browser. And so
that is what Microsoft needs and if they get their timing right, their
message right, and the hardware right, which is going to be a big sell or a
tough challenge, you’d say. I think they have a better chance than when
they launched RT where they had new hardware with a new OS that wasn’t
fully baked. And so I think that they’re going to get things right this
time. Because they’re putting their best people on it, so it should
actually work a bit better than the previous attempts. It’s a great and
very fair question and I guarantee you Microsoft is putting together a
very, very carefully crafted, at least I hope Mary Jo, we know this very
well from the marketing stuff and crafted marketing message about why this
is going to work. Because to Greg’s point, they have actually tried twice
before and they have failed twice before.
Mary Jo Foley: 06:43
Right. Another question from the forums. Will Windows Lite be based on
Windows 10 or Chrome OS as suggested by this guy called Paul Thurrott who
you might know.
Brad Sams: 06:52
Yeah, unfortunately, we do know him. He’s the compandre.
Mary Jo Foley: 06:58
I don’t remember Paul saying Chromo OS. I remember him saying the idea was
to compete with Chromo OS like we both heard, but I can’t imagine Microsoft
building an OS on top of Chrome when they’ve got windows core operating
system to build on top of.
Brad Sams: 07:13
Yeah, from what I have seen, it’s not based on Chrome OS or anything like
that. It is definitely based on Windows Core OS. As it stands today and I
expect this to change the install screens and all that look just like
Windows 10, there are different color and they’re slightly more streamlined
if you will. But this is absolutely based on Windows Core OS.
Mary Jo Foley: 07:38
Bart also asks, if Lite is going to be based on Windows 10, which we both
believe, will it be able to run Android apps?
Brad Sams: 07:47
It’s an interesting question. I don’t think they’re going to go down that
route personally. What we both know that they had the technology to be able
to do this. They were bringing it over to windows phone and then the rumor
was that it was so successful that it was going to kill the Windows Store.
So I don’t think that, I think they are honestly going to push down the
progressive web app route because that seems to make the most sense. And
obviously the Microsoft store as well, but what do you think Mary Jo, do
you think they would go that crazy with it?
Mary Jo Foley: 08:19
The way they’re approaching Android apps with Windows 10 might be the way
they go with Lite in terms of having the euro phone companion app and, and
bring in compatibility and the ability to access certain features in
android to Lite if they even want to bring android apps to Lite. Or you
know what, this might be even crazier, but there is talk that one of the
things that will differentiate Windows Lite from previous attempts at
Microsoft is they’re gonna have win32 app compatibility with your
virtualization. So could you bring Android apps through virtualization and
would that make any sense? Or it just added a level of complexity that they
don’t want in light. I’m not sure.
Brad Sams: 09:04
I’m honestly hoping that we hear about this at Build, I think this will be
a very telltale sign if they do talk about it at Build, if they truly do
figure out how to containerize win32 apps. While this absolutely has
implications for Windows Lite, I think it has bigger implications across
the entire Microsoft stack. Because you can look at virtual desktops, you
can look at just streaming in general. That is like the one thing that I’m
waiting for, which we’ve heard about and we’ve read various things, but we
haven’t really seen any proof yet. So if they come out and show this off,
that will be a massive win for Microsoft. And I honestly hope that we see
Mary Jo Foley: 09:45
I do too. Bart has another question. Bart you had a lot of questions, but
they were good ones. When do you expect Lite to be tested now that it
sounds like we won’t hear anything about it at Build and will it require
any special hardware, do you think?
Brad Sams: 10:02
That is $1 million question right there because the only reason I say that
is that I think that some things have shifted in the Lite timeline
relatively recently and I think it has to do with Edge. If you remember in
December they announced that they were dumping Edge html for Chromium and
now we have this new browser up and running and Windows Lite was utilizing
the browser a lot to no surprise. And now they have to put in a new browser
and we don’t know how far down the rabbit hole they are going with that
rendering engine. If Windows Lite was heavily based on Edge html to then
switch it, is not a trivial task. So that could be delaying it’s inevitable
announcement. So the last thing that I had heard was that around the July
timeframe, they were expected to have wider availability of internal
testing, which means that it’s getting to the point where they want the
whole company running on this, or at least testing it. I don’t know if that
timeline has slipped, but up until this kind of delay, I was expecting it
sooner rather than later.
Mary Jo Foley: 11:09
It’s interesting because when you first reported about Lite, I believe you
were the first person to talk about it. I started asking around to some of
my contacts about it and people were saying, you know, don’t think we’re
going to be as fast at this as you think we should or might because there
are a lot of moving parts in the equation. I was kind of taking a little
more of a cautious stance thinking, okay, you know, I know they’re working
on it. It sounds like it’s full steam ahead to get this thing going, but
you know, are they going to try to tie it to a hardware release or not, you
know, are they going to make it something that will run on existing
hardware or it’s going to require a new device. I think a lot of those
things play in to too.
Brad Sams: 11:53
I fully agree. They also need partners too, if Microsoft does this right,
it would be unjust to just launch this with just one Surface model or
however you want to do it. Microsoft has always made a living candidly off
of its partner network. For them to bring this out and say, well first off
it would make all of their partners probably pretty angry. If they said,
hey look, here’s this brand new surface device running this new OS and you
could only get it from us. I think HP, Dell, Acer and all those guys would
throw up their arms and just start cranking out Chromebooks left and right.
Which that only adds to the complexity, the timeline, because they’re not,
again, to your point, they’re not only shipping software, they need new
hardware stacks to make it run. Granted you can run this Windows Lite I
believe on just about anything, but I think they are going to come out with
designed more locked down hardware sets for OEM partners and all that
stuff. So they have a guaranteed good experience rather than trying to
chase the rabbit hole of Windows, which is, it runs on everything really
well on any hardware configuration, which is the strength and weakness of
Mary Jo Foley: 13:01
Right, right. When you first reported about it and then I started digging
around, we were also hearing about something codename Centaurus, right?.
Which is supposedly Microsoft’s dual screen netbook. I wouldn’t call it a
Chromebook because probably going to be pretty expensive unless it’s like
the high end pixel book. Right. But I don’t think that hardware isn’t
necessarily tied to Windows Lite, but I could see a case for them bringing
those out together.
Brad Sams: 13:30
I would agree only because we’ve seen Microsoft try to launch hardware and
new software at the same time that’s how they like to position surface.
That’s how they like to use their products. That’s how they like to present
the narrative, not to mention if more complete. If you go up on stage and
say, hey look, here’s the software, go install it on your own desktop today
isn’t quite as exciting as going to go buy this new piece of hardware.
It’ll run it and it’ll be great and we can promise that. And so it makes
for a much better launch experience and it gives them something to talk
about to drag it on.
Mary Jo Foley: 14:09
Andrew Ness or Andrewness if you want to look at how he does his name in
the forums, had a bunch of really good questions. So one he asked was “what
technical characteristics do you foresee light sharing with Chromo OS and
he brings up power wash, which is the reset of the operating system to
factory defaults”. I think this, if you’re looking at where Microsoft has
not had a compelling story, vis a vi Chromo OS and Chromebooks, here it is,
right? It’s in the management of the device. So do you think they’ll come
out with something like that or do you think they’re working on something
like that? You heard anything about that?
Brad Sams: 14:47
So the terms that I’ve heard to use describe a Windows Lite, instant on
instant reboot, instant refresh, which would make it sound like Powerwash
Microsoft, and I’ve heard them talk about this, they know that Powerwash of
Chromo OS is one of the most compelling features because all the teacher
needs to do is just shut the lid, reopen it, and they don’t need to call
IT. They don’t need to do anything else. Because you’ve got to think about
too, were Chromo OS is most popular, it’s in, at least in the US I should
say, it’s in that education segment, which is typically not had a massive
IT budget. And so if a teacher can just shut the lid, reopen it, you know
effectively off and on again and it’s brand new and they don’t have to call
IT that is probably the biggest win of Chrome OS over anything because
anybody can go browse or anymore, we know that anybody can build something
that gets on the Internet. It’s the management and Microsoft knows this.
The only reason I hesitate to say they know what the best is because they
didn’t do a great job with it with Windows RT or 10 S. But I believe that
they are making that a priority with this next version.
Mary Jo Foley: 15:54
Even something like Intune for education, it’s starting to go that way, but
it’s still like really complex compared to something like Powerwash, right,
Brad Sams: 16:03
Exactly. Because the world is changing, right. It used to be that IT was
this central hub of everything that you did and that’s not going away and I
don’t want to undervalue that, but at the same time, the end user is
becoming more empowered mostly because most things are moving to the web.
When things are on the web and they’re much easier to manage because you
only have to deal with if the device connecting to the Internet. And that’s
it. Because then everything else is done by the IT pro on the backend. And
when you have more management such as logging in, finding the files,
navigating the shared drives and all that stuff, it becomes more complex.
What Chromo OS has did really well was connect the Internet and refresh and
that’s all that it needed to do.
Mary Jo Foley: 16:44
Another good question, Andrew Ness. How do you expect Microsoft to counter
Google’s position of Chromo OS and in noncommercial environment? So this to
me is really interesting because we’ve talked Chromebooks and we always
think education first, right? Like that’s the big market. That was the
first market. But Microsoft’s making a big play for firstline workers and
so is Google. How do you think Microsoft will position Windows Lite
compared to Chromo OS in those kinds of segments?
Brad Sams: 17:17
I think it works out pretty easily from a narrative slash pitch
perspective, because they can just say, hey look, we can make this work
really well with Office 365 and we can make this work with our entire
suite. It’ll boot up with autopilot and just be up and running and all that
good stuff, but at the same time, I think they’re also going to eventually
scale all this stuff up. I’ve seen documentation around Windows Lite, and
this goes back to a lot of the Wind 32 to containerization. To your point,
and I think that is absolutely correct, they start the first line workers.
I absolutely believe that Microsoft is looking one day to have this span
and much deeper subset of users, not necessarily the full on power user of
the Gamers, the people running autocad or editing videos of the world, but
all the way up through the accountants through finance through marketing
and all of that and making this just a more easy to manage OS because as
enterprise continues to grow, IT budgets candidly typically aren’t growing
at the same rate. Mary Jo, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but upgrading
to Windows 10 was actually a burden for a lot of companies because now they
have to deal with updates all the time as opposed to just once every three
years and patch Tuesday was fine, but now you’re throwing in 2 feature
updates per year and it wasn’t making sense financially. So Microsoft has
to prove as Windows Lite scales up that hey, this is actually an easier to
manage, it’s a cost reduction version, it ties into Office 365 or Microsoft
365, has the AD integration, that you just won’t find on Chromo OS.
Mary Jo Foley: 18:55
That’s making me think of something I hadn’t thought now, which is do you
think windows as a service, Microsoft’s whole new servicing strategy with
two feature updates a month, we’ll still continue when we have Windows
Brad Sams: 19:06
That’s a really good question. It really is. I honestly think that it might
just be something you don’t even think about if Microsoft does it right. I
still remember having breakfast with Terry Myerson at CES, Paul and a
couple other people were there many, many years ago and he said one day and
we hope that Windows updates, you don’t even know they just happened in the
background and it’s a completely seamless experience. Having to reset is
too much. Having to dedicate time to have your machine update is too much.
Windows Lite I believe will be the first opportunity where Microsoft has
the technical chops, the infrastructure and the underlying core or less in
place to actually enable that functionality. So if Microsoft kind of
factors around that wind 32 containerization and all that stuff, if they
can get every app to just kind of float inside the OS, which is something
I’ve heard them use before and that the underlying components can just be
updated and have no impact on the apps or settings or anything else, I
think we might actually see it accelerate a little bit potentially.
Mary Jo Foley: 20:10
I know that’s the true promise of containers, but so far that really hasn’t
been the way things work, right?
Brad Sams: 20:16
Correct. You’re right.
Mary Jo Foley: 20:17
We always hear about people wearing and looking forward to the idea of a
cloud OS, windows in the cloud, or some people even used to call it
Microsoft Windows 365 , there are all these ideas about what if Microsoft
really had a streaming version of Windows? It’s not as far fetched as it
seems a couple of years ago, right?
Brad Sams: 20:38
I mean, you look at the VDI, the virtual desktop infrastructure, that they
just announced, what do they call it? Windows VDI light. You look at all
that stuff and you think this actually becomes pretty plausible. There’s a
lot of moving parts right now that haven’t fully aligned, such as Windows
Lite, such as their desktop infrastructure. It’s there, but it’s not well
integrated across the entire Microsoft stack yet. I think that is one of
the kind of overarching narratives that’s happening inside of Microsoft.
And I’m watching and you probably are too watching how all these different
parts are eventually going to work themselves into a streaming portfolio,
but we’re not quite there yet. That’s kind of the other thing I think Lite
will help play into as well.
Mary Jo Foley: 21:23
Yeah. So I remember you saying at one point, I think you did say this, that
you thought one day Lite would be the only operating system that Microsoft
offers. Do you still think that because I still feel like there needs to be
something like a fully featured Windows as it exists, like Windows
enterprise for certain use cases.
Brad Sams: 21:44
So I would say that yes, with just the caveat that there’s always going to
be edge cases. I mean there’s Microsoft documentation that talks about how
currently Windows Lite is for your casual kind of consumption and that
Windows proper is going to be productivity based and that is going to be
the ongoing narrative for a while. That windows 10 or whenever they
rebranded as eventually or whatever they call it will always be the
productivity hero of Microsoft. I think we’re going to see some licensing
changes once Lite comes out as they’ve tried to push more consumers towards
that. Will Lite ever 100% fully replace Windows 10 Enterprise? I don’t
think so. I think Microsoft would love for to have all that functionality
enabled, but from a business perspective, and we both know that Microsoft
made a bunch of money from windows last quarter, they’re going to be very,
very cautious about how they approached that because for the same reason
they made a bunch of money on it last quarter.
Mary Jo Foley: 22:44
Yup. I agree. Okay. We’re nearing the end of our time, but as, is there
anything you wanted to talk about or bring up about Lite that you feel like
people don’t quite get but they need to understand, you know, like when you
read other coverage or hear people talk about it, you’re like, yeah, but
you guys don’t understand this.
Brad Sams: 23:01
I would point out is that Microsoft is approaching this much more seriously
than they did Windows 10 S. I mean it’s almost kind of got that Windows RT
style commitment from management. Like this is not some just one off thing.
They’re going to try it and then they’re going to do it. I’ve heard time
and time again that they took the best Windows 10 engineers and put them on
Windows Core OS project. This has been a massive undertaking to get
Windows, update it to this Windows Core OS experience, which percolates
across, you know, Hub, Hololens, Lite everywhere. When people look at this
and just say, hey, this is just going to be RT 2.0, I don’t agree with
that. I think that this is going to be a much more serious initiative, much
more pervasive and also a much, I don’t want to say bigger bet than RT
cause we all know how big of a bet RT was, but it’s on that same scale. I
think Microsoft has becoming increasingly confident that this path is
actually going to be the one that works. Microsoft has a pretty good
history of being third time’s the charm. So we’ll see if this one shakes
Mary Jo Foley: 24:12
Great. Well thank you so much for being on the chat today, Brad.
Brad Sams: 24:16
Well thank you. This was a lot of fun.
Mary Jo Foley:24:18
I think it’s good because it’s good for our listeners to hear from the
Horses Mouth, Aka Brad’s, what we think is happening with Lite and where we
think it’s going to go. Let’s see if we’re right in, in the coming weeks
and months as well.
Brad Sams: 24:32
That’s the one thing you got to keep in mind that this is, none of this is
externally official information. This is all internal communications. This
is what’s happening. Mary Jo and you fall right into this category. When
people say, what is your role in the world? My vantage point is that I
always just try to see over the walls of Redmond and kind of observe what’s
Mary Jo Foley: 24:52
Hide in a Bush and peek out and try to steal some secrets maybe .
Brad Sams: 24:56
Or you know sometimes you ride around on the trolleys or whatever..
Mary Jo Foley: 25:05
Cool. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with our next guest, so make sure
to watch for that. I’ll post who it’s going to be in the forums on
Petri.com and that’s your signal to send in your questions in the MjfChat
forum area. In regards to this chat with Brad, look for an audio recording
and the transcript of this as all of our chats have in the Petri.com site
and in the forums. Thank you very much.
- This reply was modified 10 months ago by Brad Sams.
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