Windows Core OS: Everything you need to know

windows core os news rumors release date concept

Known as Windows Core OS, this new version of Windows will be a single universal operating system for all kinds of devices — phones, desktops, collaborative displays, headsets, and more. It is also expected to be lightweight and much more unified or efficient when compared to Microsoft’s previous “OneCore” Windows 10 initiatives.

Here’s everything that we know about Windows Core OS so far.


Windows Core OS will not likely be an upgrade to Windows 10. Rumors show that this is a completely new operating system that will be designed for installation on new types of devices only. These could include the rumored Surface Centaurus or Lenovo’s foldable OLED ThinkPad. It also will likely be sold to PC manufacturers and consumers as a lightweight alternative for modern Windows 10.

The operating system will be powered by a “C-Shell” which will help in sharing common Core OS Windows experiences (say the Start Menu) across different types of devices. The goal is for the Windows experiences to adapt to the device in real time — with one interface for any Windows device, in the same that your 12-inch Surface Pro can switch from a desktop interface to a tablet interface designed to be touch-friendly.

the making of microsoft surface hub 2 hub2 inoffice
Jeremy Kaplan/Digital Trends

But what will happen to Windows 10? According reporting by Windows Central, Windows 10 will still be updated alongside Core OS. The new Core OS will be marketed for more lightweight use cases (similar to current devices like Chromebooks and iPads) while Windows 10 will keep to traditional laptops (say for gamers, programmers, content creators, etc.)

Based on a Microsoft LinkedIn job listing for the Core OS Project, you also can expect Core OS to run classic .exe and Win32 programs like Google Chrome. There even remains the possibility that CoreOS will be compatible with Android apps, according to a report from Forbes. Finally, just like with Windows 10, another goal of Core OS is to also speed up the Windows Update process when updating the operating system.

It also should be noted that there will be different “flavors” or versions of Windows Core OS. Though Andromeda OS and Polaris were the most publicly talked about versions Core OS, they are both now rumored to be dead. The reason why? Microsoft is instead shifting its focus to developing a new version of Core OS for new types of devices. Windows Central reports that this new version replaces both Andromeda and Polaris and goes under the codename “Santorini.”


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According to rumors and reports, there will be three specific versions of Core OS. These currently include “Santorini,” “Aruba,” and “Oasis.” Both “Aruba” and “Oasis” were publicly demoed by Microsoft when revealing upcoming devices — even though the company didn’t officially mention the operating system codenames. Each version is modular and is developed for a specific type of device but will share common components like the Start Menu.

First off, “Santorini” will be the most common version of Core OS. It is designed for the future wave of new laptops and foldable devices that will be found in schools and homes across the world. It will feature a new user interface, and centered Start Menu which is a bit more similar to Chrome OS. This most recently leaked with a rogue Windows Insider test build, and many concepts have since appeared online. It also is code-named as Windows Lite.

Next up, there is “Aruba.” This version of Core OS was last showcased by Microsoft during the Surface Hub 2X reveal. That said, it appears to be more focused for collaborative displays. This version of Core OS features a user interface aimed towards the office space and white-board like inking experiences. Windows Central’s Zac Bowden also reports that other features included in “Aruba” are a shared desktop space, inking on the lock screen, and a dynamic rotation screen that keeps the user interface elements in place while moving.

Finally, there is “Oasis.” This version of Core OS was hinted at by Microsoft during the reveal of the HoloLens 2 during Mobile World Congress. It is meant for Windows Mixed Reality devices and will bring new ways to interact with holograms, a holographic keyboard, as well as some nifty scrolling and tapping experiences.


microsoft 365 windows build 2018 ceo satya nadella at feature

Although Microsoft has showcased two devices running versions of Windows Core OS, the company has not officially mentioned its plans for the operating system. It’s hard to point out when Core OS will be released, as it was a topic that was not mentioned during the company’s annual Build Developer Conference in May of 2019. Employees at the company, however, continue to update their LinkedIn profiles to mention the project and are giving us hints on the development progress.

Last, in May, Microsoft also mentioned a “Modern OS” during its keynote at Computex in Taiwan. There, the company briefly referred to most of the rumors that we’ve mentioned, though it didn’t get into details or specifics. However, knowing that Core OS is already powering HoloLens 2, as well as the Surface Hub 2X, the new operating might as well be coming soon, perhaps during a Surface event in October. Microsoft might not talk about it much, but Core OS is real, and it could change Windows as we know it.


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