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article imageMicrosoft developing new 'Cloud Shell' to 'modernize Windows'

By James Walker     Jan 27, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft is said to be building a new Windows shell dubbed Cloud Shell. It's meant to be a lightweight version of Windows that modernises the platform but its exact purpose is unknown. It may be related to its recently-leaked CSHELL work.
Cloud Shell will be a "lightweight iteration" of Windows built for "the modern computing world," Petri reported today. Microsoft is working on something significant that will modernise Windows and make it more suited to the current digital environment. What it will achieve, how it will do it and why Microsoft doesn't consider today's Windows to be "modern" are unanswered questions.
Cloud Shell + ARM = RT Revival
What is known is that Cloud Shell will be a new Windows shell. The term "shell" refers to the environment you're immersed in when using Windows, such as the desktop on PCs, the Start screen on mobile and custom interfaces on Xbox and HoloLens. Cloud Shell will deliver a new kind of Windows experience with a different interface.
Petri speculated that Microsoft may be trying to overhaul Windows in a similar way to its failed Windows RT experiment. 2012's Windows RT attempted to move Windows forward, away from its traditional desktop-based interface and into what Microsoft saw as a more modern way to use computers.
Recently, Microsoft announced Windows 10 on ARM, a project that allows the full version of Windows to run on ARM smartphone processors. It's the first desktop version of Windows since RT to support the ARM architecture. Its existence hints at a revival of the concepts behind RT, suggesting Microsoft is once again considering a major rethinking of Windows. Cloud Shell may be related to this.
Thin client Windows
Alternatively, Cloud Shell may be a "thin client" approach to Windows. Thin clients are operating systems that run in the cloud and stream themselves to your PC. Microsoft may be planning a cloud version of Windows, potentially enabling more devices to run the OS.
If so, Cloud Shell may be the next evolution of Microsoft's "Windows as a Service" (WaaS) model for Windows 10. When the term was first announced, many people thought it meant Windows would transition to a subscription licensing system, like Office 365.
This hasn't happened as WaaS actually pertains primarily to Windows 10's ongoing feature updates. Potentially, Cloud Shell could enable a different approach to subscriptions though, letting customers stream Windows as required in return for a monthly fee.
Cloud Shell and CSHELL
Finally, Cloud Shell could be related to CSHELL, a new "adaptive" Windows 10 shell designed to work on every device. Revealed by Windows Central earlier this month, CSHELL is thought to enable Windows devices to transition seamlessly between shells. However, Petri's report says Cloud Shell and CSHELL "do not appear" to be linked.
With little known about Cloud Shell, CSHELL or the effects of Windows 10 on ARM, Microsoft's plans for Windows' architecture are currently hazy at best. The company is said to be planning to introduce Cloud Shell this year though, revealing how it will help to modernise Windows.
More about Windows, windows 10, Microsoft, cloud shell, windows rt
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