Windows 10 Cloud disappoints (first look)

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 4, 2017
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft is working on a new Windows 10 SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) that the company named  Windows 10 Cloud internally.

First signs of Windows 10 Cloud appeared a week or so ago on the Internet, but it was not clear back then what this new edition of Windows 10 would offer. Suggestions ranged from a cloud-based operating system to a subscription-based system similar to Office 365, and a successor of Windows RT.

Mary Jo Foley got confirmation from her sources -- which she did not mention -- that Windows 10 Cloud was a revival of the Windows RT version of Windows.

What this would mean was clear: Windows 10 Cloud would only run Windows Store applications, and apps that Microsoft made to work with the operating system. Any legacy Windows 32 program would not work on systems running Windows 10 Cloud.

Windows 10 Cloud

windows 10 cloud

A first ISO image of Windows 10 Cloud leaked recently. It made the rounds on several tech sites such as Born City, Deskmodder or Windows Blog Italia, and confirms Mary Jo's report.

Windows 10 Cloud revives Windows RT. It is unclear if Cloud will be the release name of the new operating system, or if Microsoft will launch it under another name. It is almost certain that Microsoft won't use RT as user perception is quite negative.

It needs to be noted at this point that Windows 10 Cloud is a work in progress. Things may change along the way before it is released.

Update: Two new bits on how Windows 10 Cloud differs from Windows RT. First, Windows 10 Cloud will run on ARM and Intel hardware, and not only on ARM like Windows RT. Second, customers may upgrade Windows 10 Cloud to Windows 10 Pro, something that you could not do with ARM. The core benefit here is that upgrading will make it a full version of Windows with support for legacy programs. End

Windows 10 Cloud behaves as you would expect it to behave. Cortana walks you through the first steps of setup on first start, and you may notice that quite a few apps are listed in Start after installation

Some of these apps are first party applications or games, while others third-party applications. The selection includes Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and on the games side Age of Empires Castle Siege, Asphalt 8, and Royal Revolt among others.

Most don't appear to be installed though, but merely links to the application's Windows Store entry.

Windows Store is your only source for applications in Windows 10 Cloud. While you may be able to sideload UWP applications as well, it won't run any legacy Win32 programs.

windows 10 cloud blocked app

This is similar to how Windows RT handled this, and a serious disadvantage for anyone running the operating system.

If you try to run a legacy program, you get the error messsage that "the app you're trying to install isn't designed for Windows Cloud".

This is even true for some programs that Windows 10 Cloud ships with such as regedit.exe. Other programs, WordPad for instance, do work however. This includes the Group Policy Editor for instance.

It is interesting to note at this point that so-called Centennial apps, Windows 32 programs converted to UWP, don't seem to work as well on Windows 10 Cloud.

Closing Words

Windows 10 Cloud is a fairly limited edition of Windows 10 that restricts you to apps that ship with the operating system, and apps that you can download and install from Windows Store.

This means, among other things, that you are stuck with Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer as the browser, and with Windows Defender as the security solution. Security is better obviously, as users cannot execute any legacy Windows programs on Windows 10 Cloud systems. This is however also the biggest disadvantage of Windows 10 Cloud.

Windows Cloud does better space-wise compared to other editions of Windows. It uses about 12.5 Gigabyte of storage on the hard drive after installation. While that is good compared to other editions of Windows, it is nowhere near Google's Chrome OS which uses less than 6 Gigabyte of storage.

I have my doubts that Windows 10 Cloud will fare better than Windows RT, as it is basically the same thing under a new name. While it is too early for a final judgement, I'd say that this will bomb the same way that Windows RT bombed unless Microsoft has an ace up its sleeve that it will reveal at a later point in time.

Now You: What's your take on Windows 10 Cloud?

Windows 10 Cloud disappoints (first look)
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Windows 10 Cloud disappoints (first look)
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  1. A or B, not C. said on February 7, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    @ LD

    That’s what I thought too, ie follow the money- M$$$$.
    Likely, Win 10 Starter(Cloud) will replace Win 10 Home.

  2. Anonymous said on February 6, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    It’s Windows 10 in Windows 10 clothing. It doesn’t get any worse than that.

  3. LD said on February 6, 2017 at 1:50 am

    Those who have access to more to information on the leaked ISO are saying that Windows 10 Cloud is not an attempt for Microsoft to take on Chromebooks. RT is not going to be the spring box either. Those with access to some files believe that W10 Cloud is going to be a mainstream Windows 10 product edition. It can be upgraded to W10 Pro (skipping W10 Home for some reason)..

  4. Kevin said on February 5, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Dear Microsoft.

    I’ll not have this computer turned into a game console or an Ipad, complete with a walled garden and a warden who decides what applications I am allowed to run.

    Sincerely, a Linux user.

  5. Carlos Eduardo said on February 4, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    I really want Windows 10 Cloud. I only use Windows Store apps on my Windows 10 Pro because I have not relied on Win32 and .NET apps. These apps are terrifying user security threats.

  6. TheInternetlol said on February 4, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    I think we are all jumping to conclusions too soon. We still don’t know what it is. We are all basing this off a leak and new edition string.

  7. 420 said on February 4, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    yet another hare brained idea brought to you by a company with a huge market share determined to put themselves out of business, one pissed off customer at a time.

  8. aboutconfig said on February 4, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    this must be the worst os from microsoft.

  9. drandus said on February 4, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Windows 10 Cloud is unlikely to challenge Chromebooks as it seems to be based on an entirely different model. While Chromebooks do have access to the Chrome Web Store, the fact is that you don’t need any Chrome apps to use a Chromebook and benefit from its main advantages, such as speed of booting, waking, browsing (not to mention that extensions seem to be more useful and popular than Chrome apps).

    So if MS is focusing on a device for running Windows Store applications, then it missed the point of Chromebooks and the Chrome OS business model.

    Windows 10 Cloud sounds more similar to the Android model, and even that model seems to be subsumed to Chrome OS, as Play Store is making its way onto Chromebooks. While it’s going to be convenient to use Android apps for specific tasks on a Chromebook, they will remain auxiliary to the Chrome browser with its extensions, where one can do 90% of one’s work.

  10. P said on February 4, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    So Less is More now huh? Makes sense.

  11. LD said on February 4, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    So, MS thinks that this will knock Google Chromebooks off its perch. It emanates desperation and has marketing’s fingerprints all over it. MS Software Engineering must be downing Prozac by the truck load as they are the ones who will be tasked with repurposing RT for what is basically a ‘me too’ position. This is currently about 2% of the market.

    It is going to get the Zombie treatment from the get-go, so they are going to have to wow the tech world if they have any hope in hell of convincing anybody that they are genuinely in the game. Nobody wants a Lada with a nice paint job.

    1. Lurking About said on February 4, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Windows Cloud says MS is clueless. It should be renamed something else to distinguish it from Windows. Otherwise the market confusion will kill it. Windows RT had the same problem; a name implying one could run 32bit applications but could not.

      1. Corky said on February 5, 2017 at 8:33 am

        Not disagreeing with you but that would be counter to the direction Microsoft want’s to take Windows, they want a single core version of Windows to be able to run on as many platforms as possible, however, and only IMO, they seem to be going about it the wrong way.

        Instead of modularising Windows and only including the parts they need for each SKU they seem to be taking the opposite approach and throwing everything into one giant pile.

  12. john said on February 4, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Microsoft is trying to transition users, eventually, to UWP. The hope is that they can reignite store apps and this could lead to viability on smaller devices too. As they pick up new users and developers, they establish their presence as the fourth largest ecosystem – alongside Android, iOS and Amazon.

    They’ll continue to market the system as ‘cloud’ but in reality, it’s a competitor to the Android and iOS ecosystems. ‘Cloud’ gets them in the door with education too as well as selling ease of use to the general population, kiosks for the uninitiated (ChromeOS) and business machines running Office (their only real legacy bread and butter). There will be more of a big push to get big-name software publishers on board (all behind the scenes, some of it quite FUDly threatening). Games transition, ala steam, is a major attack vector Microsoft will implement against ‘legacy’ at some future date.

    Legacy and it’s subsystem is on the long-term roadmap toward eol at 5-10 years. They can’t control the ad-networks, data-mining efforts and user interactions (spyware) on legacy systems without continuing bloat. Control is the new business model. Expect to see more attacks on Anti-virus vendors, the dangers of ‘Legacy’ and systems issues with new updates (with obtuse recommendations to *update to Windows Cloud*) in the years to come.

    We’ll see the same kind of publishing efforts, trending news, music, videos and other hooks to Microsoft-only online sites and more with the transition away from legacy. Lots of these things will only be available to MS_Cloud going forward (as the user base gains).

    This is phase I. Phase II is a continuing effort to lock down hardware (much like Android and iOS devices).

    Let’s not forget what’s happening at Google (ChromeOS + Android) and Apple (cannibalization of macOS in favor of iOS) to understand the reasons behind this move. Again… Control is the new business model. The government approves.

    Linux will be too busy with their infighting and disruptive greybeards to see an opportunity again to coalesce. Canonical remains too heavily influenced by “follow the leader” current trends to cut out a pie of the market for itself as a software/hardware source for those users seeking independence. Linux market share will continue to hover around 2% as a result.

    The tide turned with the introduction of Windows 10. The battle was lost when the conformists embraced the surveillance machine.

  13. A or B, not C. said on February 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Quoting the article, ” I’d say that this will bomb the same way that Windows RT bombed unless Microsoft has an ace up its sleeve that it will reveal at a later point in time.”
    Good chance that the ace up M$’-Nadella’s sleeve is to make Win 10 Cloud mandatory for the next or next, next feature update/upgrade n for new installs or new OEM pre-installs.

    Remember the SKUs shown at petridotcom n Walking Cat’s Twitter a few days ago.? = Win 10 Cloud RTM OEM-NONSLP, Win 10 Cloud RTM Retail n Win 10 CloudN RTM OEM-DM.
    ……. RTM = Release to Manufacturers, = similar to Win 10 Non-Cloud RTM Version 1507/Build 10240 released on 29 July 2015.
    ……. OEM:NONSLP (Non System Locked Pre-installation): Similar to retail product key, but distributed and supported by an OEM. Non-SLP product key is also not brand specific. End-users are required to perform activation by phone or activate online.(source; mydigitallifedotinfo)
    Running Win 10 Cloud will likely be similar to running today’s Apple iOS or Android OS tablets, ie apps/programs could only be installed from the STORE or CLOUD = M$ will be able to make more money from app sales, ads n marketing thru Windows Store, just like how Apple do with their App Store/iOS n Google with their Play Store/Android.

  14. RichardT said on February 4, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Well done Microsoft! All the worst bits of Windows 10 distilled into one dismal package.

    If instead they were to release a version of Windows 10 WITHOUT all the bad bits, they might be on to a winner. Never going to happen though.

  15. seeprime said on February 4, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I really, really hope that Microsoft isn’t eyeing this as the OS to use on new mobile devices. If so, it’s doomed to go the way of RT and Windows Mobile into relative obscurity, as soon as customer’s try to use it in the way they’re used to using Windows and find that it’s borderline useless.

  16. indig0F10w said on February 4, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I’ll just call this MS fail and be done with it.

  17. T J said on February 4, 2017 at 10:45 am

    With so many known bugs which need to be fixed in the Win 10 Creators OS, why on earth is MS wasting its programmers/developers time and energy on a crippled version ?
    Is this an attempt to create a full blown “walled garden” using only MS approved apps ? Without support for Legacy progs/apps this will fly like a deflated balloon.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 4, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Probably as an option for “very” low cost devices, and maybe as a competitor to Chromebooks.

      1. Jimmy James said on February 5, 2017 at 10:39 pm

        How are they going to compete with Chromebooks with lack of apps….this will fail bigtime, nobody will buy a low cost device if they can’t get any apps.

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