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Microsoft is working on a new Cloud SKU for Windows 10 which is expected to be Redmond’s next take on Chromebooks. As it was recently reported by several publications, Windows 10 Cloud would be a lightweight version of Windows, possibly for Microsoft’s Windows 10 on ARM plans.
An early version of Windows 10 Cloud has been leaked online which gives us a tiny glimpse at what Microsoft is cooking up at Redmond. An ISO of a Windows 10 Cloud build was leaked by Twitter user @adguard, which you can actually install today. Needless to say, we wouldn’t recommend installing it on an actual machine, so make sure to install it on a virtual machine instead.
As previous reports indicated, Windows 10 Cloud will only allow users to run Universal Windows Platform apps from the Windows Store. In the screenshot below, I tried installing Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code which is a Win32 app — and Windows 10 Cloud showed an alert stating that the app I was trying to install “isn’t designed for this version of Windows.” Moreover, the dialog states that “this version [Windows 10 Cloud] was made to help protect you and your device by exclusively running Windows Store apps” which, once again, confirms that the SKU will only allow users to run apps from the Windows Store:
What is quite interesting, however, is that you can actually download some Win32 apps from the Windows Store. These Win32 apps are in the Windows Store via Microsoft’s own Desktop App Converter that allows developers to bring their Win32 apps to the Windows Store but they are still being executed as a Win32 app behind the scenes. Therefore, you can’t actually run Win32 apps that you downloaded from the Windows Store.
As this is just an early version of Windows 10 Cloud, I don’t think it would be ideal to claim that Windows 10 Cloud won’t allow users to run Win32 apps that were downloaded from the Windows Store. It’s possible Microsoft will allow this to happen in the near-future, but we’ll have to wait and see until Microsoft officially releases this new version of Windows 10.
Windows 10 Cloud could be a very interesting version of Windows, to be honest. Windows 10 Cloud seems like Microsoft’s second take on Windows RT, which didn’t really succeed due to the Windows Store not having a lot of useful and powerful apps back then. In the case of the new Windows Store and the Universal Windows Platform, the story isn’t much different either — consumers, especially power users, would still want to be able to run the classic Win32 apps on their PC — even if they are from the Windows Store.
However, Windows 10 Cloud may allow Microsoft to compete with Google’s Chromebooks by introducing cheaper Windows 10 devices while offering good performance and a smooth user experience.