Windows Lite: Whispers focus on streamlining, ditching and Windows 7-like comfort

January 29, 2019 by Nancy Cohen, Phys.org
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A Windows Lite OS, really? Expect to see a lot more talk about Lite. If and when we get such a thing, you might also expect positive comments like "simple," "uncluttered," and "good riddance live tiles."

OK, no official announcement from Microsoft, but rumors and alleged descriptions of what it will be like have surfaced since December. This is a stripped-down OS; Windows on a budget. For now, the new flavor is being dubbed Windows Lite but the name may indeed change.

TechRadar's Matt Hanson was among several writers on sites that described the changes in a Lite version. These can be summed up as 1. Live tiles dropped; 2. Resonance with Windows 7; 3. Storage, RAM on a diet. "Windows Lite will be designed for systems which may only have 32GB of storage or 2GB of RAM," said TechSpot; 4. Eased resource consumption: Windows 10 Lite will be lightweight in terms of resource consumption, and offer near-instant boot times, said Cohen Coberly in December, in TechSpot.

The words Microsoft Lite were spotted in a Windows10 SDK, reported Isaiah Mayersen in TechSpot. Also, he said that it seems Windows Lite will carry structural changes and aesthetic change: live tiles would be dropped.

Actually, the most frequent detail mentioned thus far on Windows Lite was all about live tiles, symptomatic of what some do not want out of an operating system; some users just want to tap out a shopping list and catch a bus. A number of sites said it was possible that Windows Lite would drop support of the tiles. Most of the sites seemed to have a common reaction to a redesigned start menu missing the tiles: RIP.

Reports indicated people were not rushing to the Start menu to look at or customize live tiles. If it ain't broke, don't...as old habits die hard and pinning everything to the taskbar sans tiles may still make the most sense. But before a final farewell, understand its beginnings.

Matt Hanson in TechSpot: The tiles appeared in Windows 8, and were designed to provide tablet-like buttons for touchscreens with contextual information, too. Microsoft brought live tiles to Windows 10, "but they always felt a little out of place in that , and have ended up making the Start Menu look large and cluttered."

The question of why drop live tiles is more a question of why not. After all, said Mayersen, "even major apps aren't focused on taking advantage of the feature," he wrote, and :"the overall design language of Windows Lite will be simpler to reduce system requirements, and redesigning the Start menu is part of that."

In addition, there have been remarks bordering on nostalgia for a well-liked OS in the name of Windows 7. "Windows Lite is likely to be more colorful and bring back some of the soft curves and comfortable feel of Windows 7."

All in all, the "OS is most likely being designed to appeal to those who need only the basics from their systems," said Cohen Coberly in TechSpot. "If we were to speculate, we'd say this OS is most likely being designed to appeal to those who need only the basics from their systems, such as word processing, entertainment apps like Netflix or Hulu, and web browsing."

Back in December, Coberly reported: Microsoft was said to be working on stripped-down 'Windows Lite' OS to compete with Chrome OS." MSPoweruser like a number of other tech-watching sites remarked on the competition factor: Windows Lite is a ChromeOS competitor. In December, an interesting question took the form of a picture caption in TechSpot: " Will Windows 10 Lite make its way to Microsoft's Surface laptops?"

Reactions to Windows Lite thus far have been mixed. Among those who can't see its usefulness seem to be those users who seek the professional capabilities of Windows for students, academics and business.

"...who in their right mind will want it? Certainly not students or businesses who need the full Microsoft Office. Who does that really leave?"

But the spectrum of opinion goes all over the place. Another reader viewpoint: "If they get rid of live tiles, I really hope they do something other than static icons. Live Tiles were a welcome change of pace from a UI perspective in a static world of a bunch of icons."

And another: "If Windows Lite is really going to improve tablet mode, I'd like to see them stick with Live Tiles. They were great in tablet mode on Windows 8, (aside from all other issues found there)..."

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