A fascinating rumor is making the rounds on Windows news and rumor sites. As best I can tell it originates with Thurrot.com/Petri regular Brad Sams. His report is based “on documents I have seen,” not hearsay. This quote comes from a brief Petri 1/26 item entitled “Microsoft’s Cloud Shell Looks to Modernize Windows.” Other derivative reports on Cloud Shell are on NeoWin.net and onMSFT.com. These rumors hint thin client model for Windows may be in the offing, an idea that makes excellent sense.
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That idea goes as follows: the shell runs on a device with a standardized framework for ongoing interaction. This shell scales and adapts to work on devices that include smartphones, PCs, tablets, consoles, and more. In the cloud, a back-end VM provides necessary compute and storage capabilities to do actual work. This is a thin client model because it runs the GUI on the client and does the rest of the computing on a back-end server.
Windows 10 looks the other way in this reimagined early lockscreen graphic. That’s what Cloud Shell may also do.
When Cloud Shell Rumors Hint Thin Client Model, What Does It Mean?
According to Sams/Petri, Windows Store and UWP apps also have a role to play in Cloud Shell. What that role might be isn’t yet clear. Surely, though, it’s not too big a stretch to imagine it means general access to shared apps and storage? Sams and others have speculated this involves a more nuanced and capable return to the Surface RT model, now that scaffolding to support it is more solid. The Windows Store offers a large catalog of apps, and the UWP framework is well-defined and increasingly well-used. This is what leads Sams to speculate the following:
What would be more interesting is if Microsoft is truly trying to make a version of Windows for the masses that runs in the cloud and then streamed locally to your machine, much like a thin-client, but the details around Cloud shell are still a bit foggy.
There are still too many ifs and unknowns around the Cloud Shell to make out real details. But this could be an interesting and useful spin on the traditional desktop OS, updated for the 21st century. I’m sure we’ll all be watching for more information about this topic in the months ahead!