Microsoft Edgebook: The Future of the Midrange Laptop?

Mock-up Stolen from Twitter…I wish I could remember who posted this so if you know please let me know so I can create them, but Iove the design too much to not share it

A few years ago, I was part of the initial batch of external beta testers for ChromeOS. I was issued a Google Cr-48 (Named after the Chromium Isotope of the same number) with no confirmation email , phone call, or Tweet. It just showed up on my parents’ front door in a brown box. It was actually around the same three week period that Microsoft inducted me into their Office Insiders group and sent me a Dell laptop to test Office 2010 and eventually several Windows Phones and a tablet for Office 2013 so they were concerned where an undergraduate was getting the money to acquire two laptops in less than a week. ChromeOS has always fascinated me since day one though, just the idea of Google making an operating system struck me as cool because they took traditional problems that Apple and Microsoft have been tackling for decades and turned them on their head. ChromeOS started off as literally a full-screen Chrome window on top what I believe is was Fedora Linux kernel, but dang, the thing booted fast. They were one of the first ones that really pushed the idea that you could open a laptop and get to work in seconds. The entire machine was SSD-based with only 16Gb of storage and 2GB of RAM. The RAM and processor were very underpowered, but for running a single full-screen browser for web applications it was enough for a college student. It turned the idea of cloud computing into an appliance, something that nobody to this day have come remotely close to, not iOS, not Windows 10, or even Google’s own Android. With time Chromebooks gained the ability to run multi-window, multiple monitor, USB-accessory, Android apps, and even Linux app support for the truly daring.

ChromeOS can now run Android and Linux apps via Container technology, making them much more capable computers.

The new version of Edge is actually Google’s Chromium web browser underneath with a bunch of Microsoft technologies built on top of it and minus the Google bits like Google Sign-in, Sync, and other settings. New Edge also will come with support for an Internet Explorer mode built-in so that enterprises will be able to deploy Edge as their new standard browser across all versions of Windows, including Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. I see this as the best of both worlds. End-users get an excellent default browser experience and Microsoft gets a standard web browser going forward to target their own web tools such as Office (online), Azure, Web Remote Desktop, OneDrive, SharePoint, etc.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based) running on Windows 7

There has been talk that Microsoft is working on a new Start Menu and a lighter version of Windows, which omits traditional x86 applications. We already have the latter with introduction of the Surfacebook and Windows 10 S (Now Windows 10 S “Mode”). The new Star Menu removes the live tiles that have been part of Windows since Windows 8.1. I could see Microsoft releasing an “Edgebook” later this year that only starts off in “S” Mode, only running newer Windows Store apps, Microsoft Edge, Windows Explorer, etc, and then have end-users being able to go and simply toggle on legacy application support. I don’t think this should be a separate build of Windows, but rather more like Windows Server and have legacy apps be like a “role” that you can turn on. If people need a legacy app, they could even allow just a single app at a time to run in legacy mode. This would boost performance and security. There is an entire host of end-users who can get by with just a solid web browser like Edge, Chromebooks have proven this much for schools and some enterprise applications. In the enterprise this could be an interesting scenario when you consider you can easily publish remote legacy applications via Microsoft RemoteApp or in the cloud via Windows Virtual Desktop. With OneDrive known folder protection (It moves the desktop, documents, and photos folders into Onedrive and makes them available everywhere and Files on Demand), consumers and enterprise users could have a very lightweight, ChromeOS-like experience.

The new Windows 10 Tablet experience released this week in the Insider Fast Ring

The baseline would run lighter and more securely than traditional Windows 10 and then if you needed the legacy applications for work, gaming, or old hardware it could be just one click away. The biggest benefit would be that you could a much better experience for people at the low end of the market and the midrange line. I could see Microsoft even including an added level of enterprise security using Hyper-V virtualization engine by isolating legacy applications in separate virtual environments like Google does with Linux and Android on ChromeOS.

Windows 10 Xbox app…aka Microsoft’s vision for gaming on Windows 10

Heck, I could see them even releasing an “Xbox mode’ version of the same technology that runs games in a separate Hyper-V controlled environment in much the same way that the Xbox One divides itself into “XboxOS” and the Windows 10 core for the multimedia layer. I think separating user-data and Windows functions and the XboxOS on Windows could allow for better gaming performance as the operating system could freeze all the unnecessary resources and redirect all the power towards gaming, allowing for stuff like MyPhone or other notifications to come through if the player desires, but otherwise everything else is shutdown, all towards the goal of providing the most performance for the gamer. This could also make it easier to maintain a stable system that lets gamers play all of their games without fear that a Windows Update is going to brick their performance. Windows 10 core could continue to move forward, but the XboxOS VM as part of the Hypervisor tree could be a static environment almost as if it were a dedicated gaming PC (I know a lot of people who do this and disable Windows update because it does have a history of messing up with graphics card and other driver performance).

Unrelated, but I love the new dark mode in Office365

Of course, we will probably have to wait until Microsoft Ignite 2019 this November for any actual announcements, but I am really hoping that we do see Microsoft announce an “Edgebook” that runs this new, more streamlined version of Windows. I think that the lower end of the market would really benefit from something like this in the world. Education and enterprise would also really benefit from it as well since modern tools like Microsoft Intune or VmWare Airwatch could make managing this category of devices a breeze. I think that a lighter version of Windows being the new default would be a great boon to everyone.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ignite

I’ll be at Microsoft Ignite this year! Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn and we can meet up and geek out over all things enterprise tech! -Hobie

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IT Support Specialist V and Spring Hill College graduate who loves all things tech. If it has a flashing LED it has my immediate attention.

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Hobie Henning

IT Support Specialist V and Spring Hill College graduate who loves all things tech. If it has a flashing LED it has my immediate attention.