Microsoft is set to launch a new version of Windows 10 that will ditch all legacy features and components that can be eliminated. The modernized version of Windows 10 will be built on Windows Core OS (WCOS) and is code-named Polaris. The new OS will be aimed specifically at traditional form factor devices like notebooks, desktops, and 2-in-1 computers. The goal of the new flavor of Windows 10 is to leave behind legacy components that are in the current form of Windows 10, to create an operating system that is lighter weight with improved performance and battery life for mobile device.
The OS will feature CShell, the coming universal shell that is shared across all devices, but the Polaris composer will offer a traditional desktop environment that computer users are accustomed to. Windows Central reports that the current Windows Shell is one of the main legacy components that Microsoft wants to ditch in Polaris. Other legacy components that Microsoft will kill off with Polaris include Notepad and Paint. Replacing those will be a UWP-first experience like Windows 10 Mobile offered. Interestingly, Microsoft has essentially admitted that Windows 10 Mobile was a failure and has killed that OS off. The software giant wants to keep some of the ideas from that failed OS and carry them into Polaris.
One big caveat to Polaris will be that it is unable to run Win32 programs natively. However, reports indicate that Microsoft will be bringing the Centennial Win32 app to Polaris employing virtualization. The big upside to this sort of implementation is that users get full capability to run Win32 programs and applications without having to carry over the components needed to run them natively. That is a key requirement to keeping Polaris lightweight and modern.
Another caveat is that there is no way for Microsoft to remove all the Win32 components from Windows Core OS. At this point, there is no way to know exactly what Microsoft plans to remove and what it plans to keep. Word is that Microsoft is looking into remote virtualization using RAIL and local virtualization. There will be no direct upgrade path to Polaris from a device running current flavors of Windows 10.
Reports indicate that the current version of Windows 10 will be sticking around, but it sounds as if users wanting to run Polaris on existing devices will need to start fresh. Polaris will only be offered on new devices that ship with the new OS. A rumored target date for launching Polaris is sometime in 2019.