Microsoft is reportedly working on a new version of its ever-successful Windows operating system – but we’re not talking about Windows 12, no sir. Instead, this is ‘CorePC’, a new project from Microsoft designed to take on Google’s ultra-efficient Chrome OS.
That's according to the good folks at our sister site Windows Central, whose sources claim the idea is to create a modular iteration of Windows, which Microsoft could then tweak and customize into different ‘editions’ that better suit specific hardware. This new version of Windows would be less resource-intensive than previously, hopefully.
CorePC (bear in mind this is a codename, and will likely not be the name of the finished OS) is rumored to also have one more trick up its sleeve: AI. Of course it’s AI – we shouldn’t be shocked, given Microsoft’s current hyperfixation on shoving popular chatbot ChatGPT into everything from the Microsoft 365 suite to the Bing search engine. Details are thin on what exactly artificial intelligence will bring to the table here, but it’s claimed to be a focus of the CorePC project.
Opinion: This could actually be really good – if Microsoft stays the course
Though this is no more than a rumor at this stage, it makes a lot of sense. For starters, this wouldn't be the first time Microsoft had experimented with building a lightweight version of Windows.
The Windows 10X program, for instance, was supposed to be a stripped-back version of Windows 10 that cut down on features in favor of faster operation and better system security. Unfortunately for us, it was eventually canceled in 2021 and the OS never made it to our devices. There was also Windows Lite, a 2018 effort to build a lightweight Windows, which also never really saw the ‘lite’ of day.
I genuinely hope that CorePC doesn’t meet the same fate; the idea of a low-system-requirement version of Windows is an attractive one right now, with Chrome OS slowly encroaching in the budget hardware space. Hell, half of the products on our best cheap laptops list are Chromebooks at this point, and I’m a lifelong Windows devotee – I even owned a Windows phone back in the heady days of 2015 (this one, for anyone interested).
If the CorePC project specifically has the aim of creating a modernized version of Windows that can be easily adjusted to run smoothly on any device, that would be welcome. While I don’t think it will lead to the glorious return of Windows phones (a man can dream though, right?), it’d be great to see Chromebook-esque Windows laptops and tablets.
What exactly can we expect from CorePC?
Digging into the details a bit, it seems that Microsoft has an internal version of CorePC Windows already in testing. It’s barebones, running only the Edge browser with Bing AI, the Microsoft 365 suite, and Android apps – similar to how Chrome OS got access to apps from the Google Play Store back in 2016. This version of Windows is designed for super-affordable PCs and laptops designed to be used in educational environments.
That might not sound very exciting, but here’s the good part: this test build supposedly uses as much as 75% less storage space than Windows 11 and uses a split-partition install process that allows for faster updates, safer system resets, and better security thanks to dedicated read-only partitions the user (or any third-party apps) can’t access. It’s unclear at this point whether this new version runs on a conventional 64-bit structure or if it’s a more limited ARM-based build.
Considering that Windows 11 already uses between 20 and 30 gigabytes of storage space and Windows 12 looks to be jacking up the system requirements even further, the idea of a super-compact Windows edition is quite attractive – especially for use cases in education and enterprise spaces, where security is vital and a limited feature set won’t be a hurdle to everyday usage.
We’ve already seen Windows 11 scaled down for low-end hardware in the unofficial ‘Tiny11’ OS, so it’s not entirely surprising that Windows is seemingly working on an official version. Though there’s no projected release date, speculation points to 2024 so the release can coincide with the expected launch of Windows 12. In any case, I've got my fingers crossed!