Microsoft's Plans To Decouple Windows 10 From Shell Begin To Materialize

Windows 10
There is further evidence to suggest that Microsoft is taking Windows 10 in a new direction of sorts, one in which the operating system will have modular components. This is not something that will present itself to typical users in an obvious manner, but it could change the way developers approach things, as well as have other implications.

In fact, it was a developer who goes by Ablacore on Twitter who brought attention to recent changes to Windows 10 within the Windows Insider program. Among the hidden components he discovered is a new "Shell Update Agent."
"Build 18917 shows first signs of Microsoft's work towards separating the base OS and the shell when it comes to standard desktop Windows. The build introduces a new component called the 'Shell Update Agent', which is capable of obtaining and updating the shell on demand," Albacore wrote.

In a followup post, the developer notes that associated features refer to this as the "Undocked Shell." This all hearkens back to rumors of Microsoft retooling a modernized version of Windows 10 built on Windows Core OS (WCOS). The implication is that Windows would exist as a core package with modular bits, or shell components. These could include the Action Center, Start Menu, Taskbar, and other bits.

"Action Center seems to be among the first few things that even current builds try to source from a Shell package if available. In case something feels off about AC in future builds, this might be why," Albacore explains.

These components or packages could be built into the OS or downloadable. It's hard to know what exactly Microsoft has in mind, though at Computex, the company talked about its vision for a modern OS.

"An OS that provides a set of enablers that deliver the foundational experiences customers expect from their devices, and includes a set of delighters that deliver innovative human-centric experiences. Enablers include seamless updates—with a modern OS updates are invisibly done in the background; the update experience is deterministic, reliable, and instant with no interruptions!," Microsoft said.

Microsoft also talked about separating the compute functions from the OS to protect the user from malicious attacks at all times. While decou0pling Windows 10 from shell could foster new and unique form factors in hardware, it seems that security is a major part of the motivation as well.

For now, though, Windows 10 will remain as it is. In the future? That is anyone's guess.
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