Google Chrome has become so good that when it comes to affordable, quality laptops, it’s a better buy than a cheap Windows device. So Microsoft needs a lightweight OS to compete, and it’s really hoping that the education-focused Windows 10 S will be that OS.
Windows 10 S is a fully-fledged version of Windows 10 designed for low-cost computers as well as education-oriented PCs and even some premium computers, such as the new Microsoft Surface Laptop. It’s meant to be cheaper and less processor intensive than Windows 10 Home or Pro, the versions of the OS found on most laptops and desktops today.
What does the ‘S’ stand for?
According to Microsoft the “S” doesn’t stand for anything in particular, but the company says Windows 10 S is streamlined for simplicity, security and speed.
Windows 10 S will boot 15 seconds faster than a comparable machine running Windows 10 Pro with the same profile and apps installed, and it will run as fast on day 1,000 as it does on day one, Microsoft Officials says.
What makes this lightweight?
There are far fewer programs running in the background. According to Microsoft, a laptop running Windows 10 S loads a user profile (including apps and preferences) 15 seconds faster than an identical laptop running Windows 10 Pro.
What if I have Windows 10 S and need to run apps outside of the Windows Store?
Any Windows 10 S machine can be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for a one-time fee of $49. Some machines, such as Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, will also come with a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for a limited period.
Once upgraded to Windows 10 Pro, it is not possible to revert back to Windows 10 S.
What systems will it be available on?
A number of inexpensive laptops from major computer manufacturers including Dell, HP, and Acer. The cheapest laptop will start at just $200.
How is it different from Windows 10 Home or Pro?
The big difference between Windows 10 S and any other version of Windows 10 is that 10 S can only run applications downloaded from the Windows Store. Every other version of Windows 10 has the option to install applications from third-party sites and stores, as has the majority of versions of Windows before it.
Windows 10 S will also come with Microsoft’s BitLocker encryption system for securing your files in case of theft, which some versions of Windows 10 Home do not have available. It will also receive the same updates at the same time as other versions of Windows 10.
How is it different from Windows RT?
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has attempted to make a version of Windows that is locked down to just apps from the Windows Store. Windows RT launched in 2012 as a version of Windows 8 that could only run apps from the Windows Store and came on the first Microsoft Surface tablet.
Windows RT was limited to Windows Store apps because it ran on ARM-based processors, similar to those found in most smartphones, not x86 processors such as those found in most desktop and laptop computers. It was phased out within a couple of years.
Windows 10 S is locked down not for hardware reasons but for security, speed and efficiency, which Microsoft hopes will help it succeed in the key education market.
How much is it?
It costs nothing, as it’s only available pre-installed on devices or through a vendor used by tech agents for schools.
But if you are using a Windows 10 S device and are tired of being stuck to the Windows Store, you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free, if you’re a student, and for $99, if you’re not.