Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s latest addition to its range of operating systems. Windows 10 S is a locked-down variant of Windows 10 with similar features and functionalities. This makes it, among other things, less susceptible to security issues. Microsoft launched Windows 10 S primarily for the educational market. In many ways, it is Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chrome OS and the increasingly popular Chromebooks, which have carved out a growing niche in the lower-end market. Here’s everything you need to know about this new Windows OS in town.
What is Windows 10 S?
Windows 10 S is a specific configuration of Windows 10 Pro offering a similar productive Windows experience to its users. It is a fully independent latest operating system from Microsoft, which looks, feels, and functions pretty much the same as other Windows 10 OS. The OS is essentially designed to pair with low-cost computer devices with minimal hardware. However, it is also designed to run on some premium computers such as the Microsoft’s proprietary Surface laptops. As per Microsoft, Windows 10 S is streamlined for security and is built to deliver superior performance to its users.
The major difference between Windows 10 S and the other Windows OS is that the Windows 10 S doesn't allow its users to install third-party applications. You can only run apps downloaded from Microsoft’s own Windows Store.
The reason? Microsoft says this ensures safety and security. However, there’s a way to use your favorite desktop apps with Windows 10 S. Microsoft is allowing third-party app developers to convert any traditional Windows desktop application to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and make them available on the Windows Store, which will make them usable on Windows 10 S.
Currently, there are thousands of applications available in the Windows Store to choose from. The catalog includes apps from various genres including free, paid, and trial versions. During the launch of Windows 10 S, the company also confirmed that the Store will include the full version of Microsoft Office suite and Spotify. The store includes a long list of renowned apps such as Facebook, Netflix, Slack, Evernote, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and more.
Performance and security
Microsoft is yet to reveal what “S” in Windows 10 S stands for. However, many feel that speed is a good fit for the name. That’s because Windows 10 S, being a lighter variant of Windows 10, is primarily designed for fast and lag-free performance. Microsoft claims that Windows 10 S is essentially built to deliver better performance along with the security.
As mentioned earlier, third-party apps won’t run in Windows 10 S unless they’re packaged and are available in the Windows Store. This means that the system will inherently protect its users from malware and unnecessary bloatware. As per the company, Windows 10 S takes just about 15 seconds to boot, making it the fastest Windows OS yet. Windows 10 S comes with a better and faster login process, which will certainly be beneficial to most users.
Windows 10 S comes with Microsoft Edge as its default browser and Bing as its default search engine. This means whenever you click on any link, you'll be forced into Microsoft Edge browser. Currently, there is no other option to choose from when it comes to default browsers in Windows 10 S. However, confining Windows 10 S to Edge and Bing could improve the security of the device to a good extent and, to Microsoft’s benefit if not yours, make sure that customers always stay in a controlled Windows experience.
Outside of restricting users to apps from the Windows Store, Windows 10 S is similar to other Windows 10 operating systems. Therefore, it comes with largely similar features of other Windows 10 operating systems. Here are few of the essential features:
- Includes BitLocker disk encryption.
- Updates on Windows 10 S can be easily managed using mobile device management (MDM) software.
- Supports Shared PC configuration.
- You can join a Windows 10 S PC to Azure Active Directory. You can also roam an enterprise profile using Azure AD.
- Access to Windows Store for business.
- Comes with Cortana.
- Offers Windows Hello biometric authentication.
Microsoft has paired with multiple hardware partners including Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba. The devices running on Windows 10 S will vary from ultra-low-cost models to machines with higher specs, such as Microsoft’s proprietary Surface series of laptops.
Currently, it’s hard to speak about the hardware peripheral support for Windows 10 S-based devices, as the OS is yet to be launched and used in real-world environments. However, considering the fact that third-party software is restricted in Windows 10 S, we presume that there might be issues connecting hardware peripherals to Windows 10 S-based devices. In addition to that, Microsoft itself during the unveiling said that “Many hardware peripherals (such as printers) that work with Windows 10 today will work with Windows 10 S, but may have limited functionality.”
Battery life of the systems running Windows 10 S will largely depend on the manufacturer, the hardware used, and the battery within the device. But on the whole, Windows 10 S is primarily built for students so that it lasts longer. It is expected that the battery life on the devices running on Windows 10 S should definitely be good enough to satisfy majority of the users.
Availability and pricing
Although Microsoft has teamed with multiple companies including HP, ASUS, Dell, and more, the very first laptop running on Windows 10 S will be Microsoft’s latest Surface laptop (now available for preorder). The laptop will be available in the U.S. first and began shipping to customers on June 15. However, we can expect the availability and models to grow and widen this summer.
Costs of the machines running Windows 10 S will vary from the hardware used and will also vary from its PC-making partners. As per Microsoft, the machines running on Windows 10 S will be available from as low as $189 and can go as high as over $1,000.
Windows 10 S vs. Chrome OS
Looks like Microsoft is all set to compete against Google’s Chrome OS with its all new Windows 10 S. Both Windows 10 S and Chrome OS have a lot in common, probably more similarities than differences. They both are secure machines with the primary focus on performance. They both are priced very affordably and are available across multiple PC-making brands. But there are major differences: The Chrome OS is largely a stripped-down cloud-based OS, which has limited functionalities. On the other hand, Windows 10 S is a fully functional OS that supports almost all the actions as other Windows 10 operating systems. Although Windows 10 S seems to be a clear winner when it comes to providing all-round performance, do note that we have yet to witness its capabilities in real-world usage.