Look out over the digital horizon, and you’ll see something floating your way that you may have heard about but probably hadn’t sighted until now. Is it a UFO? Is it a spacecraft? No, it’s Windows 10 Cloud, which by most accounts isn’t quite as exciting as the other two options, but it’s still a pretty big deal in the world of tech.
Shoving aside conspiracy theories about how Microsoft is trying to force us into exclusively using UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps on its OS, we’re going to take a look at what we know about Windows 10 Cloud so far, complete with lovely leaked screenshots.
So What Is Windows 10 Cloud?
The simplest way to put it is that it’s Microsoft’s answer to Chrome OS, Google’s cloud-based operating system that almost exclusively runs on the web and browser-based applications, ensuring that you have a lightning-quick experience on even bare-bones PCs (subject to your Internet speed). Based on what we’ve seen so far, Windows 10 Cloud will come with the Microsoft Edge browser, the Windows Store app, and some form of File Explorer.
Somewhat confusingly, reliable Windows journalist/guru Mary Jo Foley said that according to her sources, Windows 10 Cloud won’t technically be a cloud-based operating system, and will instead be a lightweight version of Windows more in line with the maligned Windows RT. This means it will only allow people to use UWP apps/those that have been digitally signed off by Microsoft. In other words, that it’ll work with Windows Store apps only.
So Will It Force You to Exclusively Use Windows 10 Apps?
Even though early signs pointed to this being the case, the updated answer now is “not necessarily.” The folks over at Digital Trends dived into a leaked preview build of Windows 10 Cloud, and their findings suggest that you might not be stuck in Microsoft’s not-too-popular app store after all.
While the build they used did indeed lock them into using Windows Store apps exclusively, there was an option that implied users may be able to open up the mysterious OS to any and all apps in the future. Under “Settings -> Apps & features,” they found that they could toggle between the options to “Allow apps from the Store only” and “Allow apps from anywhere,” though the latter option didn’t work upon trying (it is an early build, after all).
It is, however, possible that Microsoft will take the approach of warning people from installing apps from outside their own store, but we’ll be able to override this if we so wish.
Windows 10 Cloud Will Run on Intel
Another sage of everything Windows, Paul Thurrott, made a couple of fresh discoveries surrounding Windows 10 Cloud. The first of these was that it will run on Intel hardware rather than just the mobile-oriented ARM architecture. This means that the OS will be available to a much wider audience than its apparent predecessor, Windows RT, and possibly even premium PCs as well as low-end ones.
And It’ll Be Upgradeable to Windows 10 Pro
Over at MS Power User, they discovered recently that clicking the “See how” button when you get a warning saying that the app you’re trying to run isn’t designed for Windows Cloud (such as Win32 applications), you get a link allowing you to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. We don’t yet know how much this will cost, though as it stands it looks like the “Pro” upgrade is the only option. It could well be that Windows 10 Cloud will be completely free, and Microsoft will be looking to monetize it through peoples’ use of the Windows Store as well as upgrades to Windows 10 Pro.
There’s plenty of info out there, so we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Windows 10 Cloud. In principle, a lightweight, speedy version of Windows 10 sounds great if you don’t want to give yourself over to Google’s ecosystem on the Chromebook, but are Microsoft’s equivalent tools better than Google’s? Would we rather be stuck with Edge than Chrome, for example? OneDrive over Google Drive? It’ll be interesting to see how this one evolves. Would you consider Windows 10 Cloud based on what you’ve read? Let us know below in the comments.