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Microsoft said to be building a new, 'modern' version of Windows 10 for PCs
by Muhammad Jarir Kanji
Microsoft has long been working on creating a consolidated version of Windows that works across a variety of platforms and form factors. Initially dubbed 'One Windows' and 'OneCore', the company's latest attempt at executing that vision is called 'Windows Core OS', which aims to turn Windows into a more modular operating system.
We already know that the mobile-focused variant of Windows Core OS that will be installed on dual-screen, foldable mobile devices like the rumoured Surface Phone is codenamed Andromeda OS. A new report from Windows Central's Zac Bowden suggests the PC-oriented flavour of Windows Core OS will be known as Polaris and will strip much of the legacy code and compatibility that the OS is currently encumbered with.
Polaris is reportedly being designed to work on more 'traditional' PC form factors, such as desktops, laptops and 2-in-1s but what will set it apart from Windows 10 Pro is that it will be based entirely on the company's UWP platform. Almost all of the legacy components will be removed from the OS in favour of flexibility, better power management and performance.
From an end-user perspective, Polaris will be even more locked down than Windows 10 S. While that version of Windows also restricts users to only the Microsoft Store in terms of app compatibility, it still shares a similar base to Windows 10 Pro, and serves as somewhat of a halfway point to what Microsoft is ultimately planning with Polaris.
An extensible and adaptable UI shell known as CShell is already being worked on by Microsoft to serve as the foundation for the user interface for not only Polaris but also Andromeda and Windows Core OS as a whole. This will allow desktop users to have a visually similar OS to what they've come to expect from Windows 10 but, behind the scenes, a lot of the Win32 components in the existing Windows Shell will be stripped away and discarded.
While Windows 10 S users can only install apps via the Microsoft Store, they can still use Win32 apps ported to the Store via the Desktop Bridge. With the loss of its legacy credentials, Polaris will be unable to do so. Microsoft is, however, reportedly working on a way to keep compatibility with legacy apps in a similar fashion to how they work on the HP Elite x3. HP's implementation, however, required 'streaming' the app to your device, with mixed results. The Redmond giant is said to be aiming for a more 'native' experience with the use of containers.
Another important point of note about Polaris is that it's not aimed at succeeding Windows 10 as you know it. Rather, Windows 10 Pro and Polaris will exist side-by-side in Microsoft's lineup, with the former serving gamers and power users who demand its robustness and the latter being touted to more casual users who don't mind the limitations of a lightweight OS.
Users will not be able to switch between the two platforms, with Polaris only being available on new devices that ship with it. This means you won't be able to upgrade from Polaris to Windows 10 Pro - or vice versa.
The report lines up with a lot of what we've seen from Microsoft in recent years as it dismantles legacy applications like the Control Panel and Bowden claims this is all done in service of making Windows as a whole less dependent on legacy functions, thereby paving the way for Windows Core OS.
As with all expectations of the company's plans that don't come from official channels, it's hard to say when, and if, Polaris will see the light of day but the report suggests a UWP-centric File Explorer should be completed by the end of 2018, with Polaris itself slated for a 2019 release at best.
Source: Windows Central
By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft's Surface Phone is reportedly real, might be released next year
by Hamza Jawad
The alleged Surface Phone - reportedly referred to as 'Andromeda' - has led to several rumors over the years, but no official confirmation from Microsoft regarding the rumored device has ever actually emerged. Although this is still the case, according to Windows Central, the company is currently working on the foldable tablet, and it might actually be released in 2018.
Apparently, this device will run Windows 10 built with Windows Core OS and, as was earlier rumored, CShell as well. The adaptive UI shell will be a key component in its folding functionality, and supposedly the tablet, once folded, will be pocketable as well.
Digital inking is reportedly a significant aspect of this tablet; some prototypes open up into a special notebook app, linked with OneNote. In-app virtual pages further enhance the ability of the device to act as an actual notebook. It is highly likely that the tablet will be shipped with the latest Snapdragon processors, as it is rumored to run on ARM.
Earlier this year, several patents filed by Microsoft for a dual-display device were discovered, further fueling the Surface Phone rumors. It is important to note the tech giant reportedly does not believe this to be a smartphone replacement, but instead, wants it to act as a digital pocket notebook. Nevertheless, the device might contain key smartphone capabilities such as the ability to call and text.
Interestingly, Microsoft recently made it clear that new hardware is no longer a focus for the company. Therefore, it is advised to take all this information regarding the Andromeda device with a pinch of salt.
Bear in mind that Andromeda is also rumored to be the name of Windows Core OS, part of Microsoft's OneCore approach, and no definite link between the Andromeda device and the operating system has been established as of yet.
Windows 10 expected to become more modular thanks to Andromeda OS
by Florin Bodnarescu
With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft committed to a much faster release schedule than the clunky model of old. This means the operating system is to be treated as a service rather than as a monolithic block of software, which it has become over the last three decades.
One of the ways to address this is Microsoft’s OneCore approach, which is to say, uniting all of the disparate flavors of the OS into something that’s easier to manage and adapt. The next iteration of this initiative seems to be something internally referred to as Andromeda OS.
According to Windows Central, Andromeda OS would take Windows into a more modular territory, allowing it to adapt to each specific device, not only in terms of visual presentation and overall UX – which Windows 8 tried, though never quite succeeded -, but also in terms of the components installed on each device. In other words, Windows 10 running on a smartwatch would install only the components of the OS necessary for this type of device, which vastly reduces the size of the install and increases the system’s overall adaptability.
By approaching the OS as a modular platform, personalized product variants such as Windows 10 Mobile or the variant underpinning the UX on the Xbox would simply be redundant. In a world in which the system can be built up like Lego to suit a certain use case, the separation into these different cubby holes of product versions goes out the window.
The universal-but-not-quite situation we have today with the rift between Win32 apps and UWP apps would indeed take a back seat, with Andromeda OS promising a truly universal solution and being able to support the tailoring of components for each device much in the way hardware makers choose which features of an OS to support on their phones, tablets, and other such units.
Together with the rather mysterious CShell, Microsoft’s universal, highly adaptable UI that’s currently in the works, Andromeda OS seems to be pushing the boundaries of the Windows ecosystem even further. The mythical Surface Phone - that’s yet to show up anywhere - could very well be running Microsoft’s new breed of operating system, since the latter is projected to be ready "sometime in 2018”, with its introduction being a lot more mobile-focused.
Do not get your hopes up in regards to seeing this componentized version of Windows 10 being referred to as Andromeda OS publicly. For now at least, it’s a strictly internal platform aimed at expanding the Windows ecosystem by making the building of the OS more efficient than it currently is.
The main idea of this initiative is not too dissimilar to Google's Fuchsia OS, though the latter may be more of a consumer-facing change compared to the former.
Source: Windows Central
What are your thoughts on Andromeda OS? Sound off in the comments below!
New leaks suggest exciting new functionality and a different name for the Surface Phone
by Muhammad Jarir Kanji
Microsoft has been said to be revamping its hardware and software offerings on the mobile front for a while now. On the software front, it is expected that the company will enable full Windows 10 to run on mobile devices through its CSHELL adaptive UI shell, while the hardware reboot will likely come courtesy of the long-awaited Surface Phone.
Satya Nadella has previously indicated that the company is working on a phone experience unlike existing devices and, if new Chinese leaks regarding the device are to be believed, the phone is packing some exciting functionality indeed. The source purports that the Surface Phone will support the Surface Pen for inking, feature a top-of-the-line Snapdragon processor, and include a kickstand.
What will set the device apart, however, will be the inclusion of a feature called 'Onto Table', which could be a built-in projector that supports Continuum. In practice, this may enable users to enjoy a simulated desktop experience without the need for a dock or a monitor, thereby enabling true desktop productivity from within the phone itself without the need to lug a screen around. While this may be the most exciting possibility, it's also possible that the feature is simply a reference to wireless projection to a nearby monitor. The Chinese text also suggests that the phone will be able to work in this manner for an hour.
The device will also, incidentally, not be called Surface Phone, as was previously believed, but rather receive a new moniker in the form of Surface Mobile.
There are also reference to Surface Peking and Surface Slavonia, which could be references to multiple devices or even related hardware, such as perhaps a dock or even a Surface Monitor designed to work with the above Onto Table functionality. There are also references to something called Project Andromeda but without confirmation by Microsoft, it's difficult to know exactly what all these code names are referring to.
The leaks were first spotted by WalkingCat, who has often been the source of reliable Microsoft leaks in the past but, as with all rumours, it's best to take them with a grain of salt.
Source: WalkingCat (Twitter) via OnMSFT
Windows 10's adaptive CShell user interface revealed in images and video
by Andy Weir
Last week, we reported on how Microsoft's plans for the future of Windows 10 on phones is gradually coming together. A key part of those plans is the company's development of a unified CShell user experience, which can adapt the Windows 10 interface to work across a range of devices with different display sizes and types, eliminating the need for separate shells like Windows 10 Mobile.
On Thursday, Microsoft accidentally released a series of Windows 10 builds to devices on the Windows Insider program, which included pushing 'IoT' and 'Xbox' builds to phones. On most handsets, those builds failed to install properly, sending the devices into a recurring bootloop that required them to be restored to factory settings. But Windows Central's Zac Bowden managed to get build 16212 working on a HP Elite x3, showing CShell in action for the first time.
As I mentioned in my article last week, CShell features changes to the Start screen on mobile devices, including the addition of the 'large' (double-width, double-height) Live Tile size, which has so far been limited to Windows 10 on PCs. The context menu for customizing tiles is new to mobile devices too, and is also identical to that used on PCs.
Notably, the Start screen also includes landscape support, maintaining the same tile layout with large gaps on either side of it. Given that CShell is still at a relatively early stage of its development, this may well change as the interface is refined in future builds. In build 16212, landscape support is said to be more or less universal, with apps also able to launch in that layout.
As previously reported, the Action Center has been redesigned as well, with a layout that brings it much closer to the version used on Windows 10 PCs. The most obvious change is that the Quick Action buttons - for controls such as Wi-Fi, Airplane Mode, and Rotation Lock - have been relocated to the bottom of the screen.
Additionally, the build features improvements to the PC-like Continuum user experience. Microsoft originally announced these enhancements - which includes support for resizable and snapped windows, and the ability to pin apps to the taskbar - in September 2016. They were supposed to be part of the Creators Update, which was released in April, but they haven't even been made available to Windows Insiders yet. Microsoft's Dona Sarkar told Neowin in February that they would come to Windows phones "at the right time".
Significantly, Silverlight apps don't launch at all in CShell, confirming recent reports that Microsoft is planning to drop support for those apps.
The same CShell UX will also extend to PCs and other Windows 10 devices, and the Continuum screenshots offer a glimpse of what it will look like on the desktop - and of course, it will look much the same as it does in Continuum running on phones. Continuum on Build 16212 already includes support for Microsoft's new Fluent Design System.
You can see more of CShell in action in the video below:
Microsoft has been testing CShell builds on phones internally for several months, but it's still far from clear if Microsoft intends to bring it to existing handsets as an official update.
The company will still need to test the CShell UX on existing smartphones with the help of its Windows Insider community, so it's pretty much inevitable that it will make CShell available to Windows 10 Mobile handsets in Insider Preview form, at least. But that's no guarantee that those devices will be officially supported when CShell rolls out as part of a future Windows 10 update.
When Microsoft released the original Windows 10 Mobile upgrade, it excluded many of the devices used by Insiders who helped to test and refine the OS before its rollout. And when it released the Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update in April, it did so for just 13 handsets, again cutting off its official support for numerous Windows phones that had been running Insider Previews.
In his report today, Zac speculated - as I did last week - that "Microsoft might want to save CShell for its next major attempt at Windows phone", rather than supporting it on existing devices. Microsoft is believed to be working on a new class of mobile device; popularly referred to as the 'Surface phone', it's not expected to launch until sometime next year, and it's not hard to imagine where CShell fits into those plans.
Last week, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced a new generation of Windows 10 'Mobile PCs' using Snapdragon 835 chips, along with eSIMs to ensure that they can remain 'always connected' - but that announcement related specifically to notebooks and 2-in-1s, rather than smartphones.
Source: Windows Central