Microsoft has tried for years to stop the rapid market share growth of Chromebooks. First, the company tried to optimize Windows has much as it could, allowing it to (somewhat) run on cheap Atom-based tablets and laptops. Microsoft later released Windows 10 'S', which couldn't run traditional Windows apps. Now it seems the company is going even further, by developing a whole new operating system — Lite OS.
According to a report from Petri, Microsoft is working "on an aggressive schedule" to complete Lite OS. Much like Windows 10 S, Lite OS can only run Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Progressive Web Apps. The above image is a mockup of the main UI, with a launcher that looks similar to Chrome OS's app drawer.
The company is allegedly considering adding support for traditional Windows programs (Win32), possibly by running them inside protected containers. Fast performance, ease of use, and low maintenance are the key goals for Lite OS. The report says Microsoft aims to support both x86 and ARM platforms, though it's not clear if retail devices will be made with both.
I would certainly like to see Microsoft succeed at making a true alternative to Chrome OS. However, the company will have to be aggressive to make up for lost time — Chromebooks are more popular than ever.