What (and WHY) is Windows 10 S?
Microsoft has done it again - rolled out a new “paradigm” that makes the whole world say “Why?” The company has released Windows 10 S, a seriously crippled version of its latest operating system. Even stranger, it simultaneously released the long-awaited Surface Laptop with this oddball OS installed on it. Here's what you need to know...
What is Windows 10 S?
You might be wondering what the "S" stands for. This much I know for sure… it's not Super, Special, or Sensational. Even Microsoft isn't sure if the "S" is for Streamlined, or if it's all about the "Soul of Windows." The goal of Windows 10 S was an environment that will only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. You can't download or install software from any other source. It's basically a walled garden.
The default search engine for Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s Bing and you can’t change it to any other search engine. Its default browser is Edge, and that remains the default even if you install another browser… which you can’t do because there are no other browsers in the Windows Store.
Apparently, "S is for Store." The folks at Redmond tell us that your favorite desktop apps will run on this version of Windows 10, but they'll have to be re-packaged by the software vendor and listed in the Windows Store. And there's no guarantee that your favorite software will ever make it to the Windows Store.
Does that sound like the software environment that someone who buys a $999-and-up laptop would want? No, it does not. So Microsoft will let Surface Laptop buyers upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free during their first year of ownership; thereafter (if anyone can tolerate Win 10 S longer), an upgrade will cost only $49.
Microsoft says Windows 10 S is aimed at the education market. K-12 schools that issue laptops to students must strictly limit what kids can download and install on said computers. Windows 10 S solves that problem; there’s nothing dangerous or scandalous in the Windows Store. Windows 10 S also comes with administrative tools that make managing hundreds of computers in a school environment easier. But at this time, the Windows Store does not contain any of the most popular software used in schools.
Microsoft says its Office suite will be in the Windows Store by mid-June. What K-12 school uses Office in the classroom? Spotify says it will bring its music app to the Windows Store; I don’t know how educational that will be, either. But there’s no Chrome browser, the choice of 58% of all users. There’s no integration with Google Drive; you can navigate to Drive, but there’s no app to make Drive sync with a folder on your computer. There are only 32 extensions for the Edge browser in the Windows Store. (There are tens of thousands of Chrome extensions.)
Microsoft is competing with Google’s Chrome OS and low-cost Chromebooks in the education market. So why is Windows 10 S debuting on the Surface Laptop, which starts at $999? Microsoft's devices chief Panos Panay says the Surface Laptop targets students who are just about to leave high school. "We talk to a lot of them... they're asking for a laptop, they're asking for a Surface laptop," he said at the launch event. "So we built a laptop, and it's beautiful."
The Surface Laptop is pretty, but I wouldn’t call it “beautiful.” It has a 13.5-inch screen, the thinnest LCD touchscreen even put into a laptop, according to Panay. The resolution is a generous 2256 x 1504 pixels. The screen is compatible with the Surface Pen, an option available separately for $40-60. But touch input will be awkward because you will have to brace that thin screen with one hand while tapping on it with the other.
The keyboard area is covered with Alcantara fabric, which is easier on wrists and wipes clean easily. The Laptop weighs a svelte but not anorexic 2.7 pounds, and at its thickest point measures only 14.5 mm (about ? of an inch).
Inside, the $999 model has an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. Ports are rather meager: USB 3.0, headset jack, mini DisplayPort, a 3.5 mm AV port, and Microsoft’s magnetic SurfaceConnect charging port. Other built-in peripherals include a Windows Hello face sign-in camera, front-facing 720p HD camera, stereo microphones, and Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio Premium.
Will it Fly?
I don’t expect big sales numbers from this combination of Windows 10 S and Surface Laptop. No 18 year-old will stand for the restrictions imposed by Windows 10 S. And it makes no sense to buy a laptop and immediately upgrade its operating system, even for free.
The K-12 market needs sub-$200 hardware, and Microsoft is promising a range of devices tailored for Windows 10 S, arriving this summer and starting at $189. They'll come with a free subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition, which is sure to boost productivity and encourage kids to focus on academics. Not.
I'll concede that a tightly controlled environment like Windows 10 S could be a good setup for a child, or someone who's always downloading the wrong stuff and fouling up the computer. Microsoft calls this the "peace of mind that comes with removing the risk of downloading apps from other places." Would you be interested in a Windows environment like this? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 8 May 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What (and WHY) is Windows 10 S? (Posted: 8 May 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved