Microsoft has unveiled its rival operating system to ChromeOS, but do you really need
it if you already have Windows 10 Home or Pro? In this article, we are going to cover out each and every aspect of Windows 10 S that you need to know about it.
What Is Windows 10 S?
Windows 10 S is a new version of Microsoft’s operating system that’s been designed for the educational market and lower-cost computing.
It promises to be “streamlined for security and superior performance” – which may explain the ‘S’. Although it will be offered alongside Windows 10 Home and Pro, it will be more locked down than either of those, making it feel more restrictive.
What are the benefits of using it?
Microsoft is promoting the new version’s faster speed, claiming that it will boot 15 seconds faster than a machine running Windows 10 Pro. It also says the OS won’t slow down over time because it is more lightweight than the other versions – something that will ensure it runs very well on the less powerful hardware.
Such improvements will prolong the battery life of your laptop, Microsoft claims, allowing the computer to run for an entire working day on a single charge. What’s more, you’ll still be able to use most peripherals that are compatible with other Windows computers.
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Does Windows 10 S look any different than Regular Windows 10?
No. On the face of it, Windows 10 S will look and feel just like the Windows 10 versions you’ve come to know and even love, so switching to it will be virtually seamless. That said, anyone moving from Windows 10 Home will get the benefits of Pro features such as Azure Active Directory, BitLocker encryption, and Mobile Device Management. It’s by no
means a cut-down OS in that respect.
So how is it more restrictive?
The biggest difference is that – as with ChromeOS – Windows 10 S will only work with apps from its official online store.
This means that software available from elsewhere will not install or run, so a huge
number of PC programs that are only available directly from the developer or download sites can’t be used. This will affect software including Adobe Photoshop, Chrome, Steam and many other popular titles.
Why has Microsoft done this?
Microsoft says that forcing people to download all their apps from the Windows Store removes the risk of users installing dodgy software from unsafe places. That’s partly because the company requires developers to fix security vulnerabilities in any applications they sell on the store or else risk having them removed. By eliminating the underhand traps in software installers that trick users into downloading junk programs, they
can also dramatically lower the risk of malware and intrusive pop-ups.
So it’s not about control?
Well yes, it’s undoubtedly about control as well. By restricting you to its own store, Microsoft will be able to rule the app market for machines running Windows 10 S and prevent you from downloading and paying for programs from its competitors.
But what if I want an app that’s not on there?
Tough. You’ll have either to forget it exists, wait until the developer releases an app version or look for an alternative.
The problem is that free software such as GIMP (www.gimp.org) – which is a great
substitute for Photoshop – are unlikely to reach the Store, which could leave you
bereft of good options. Still, with a bit of luck, the restriction should eventually
boost the number of apps available in the Store, especially if Windows 10 S becomes a roaring success. Given the relatively poor number of apps in there at the moment, that would certainly please Microsoft and would also make the Windows 10 platform more secure.
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So what apps can I use?
Microsoft’s full Office suite will be available and you can use popular tools such as Facebook, Netflix, Kodi, Dropbox, Adobe Photoshop Express and Autodesk Sketchbook. Spotify will also be bringing its app to the Windows Store, while Windows 10 S will
integrate with OneDrive, letting you save and sync files to the cloud.
Can I use any browser I want?
No. As we’ve already pointed out, Chrome isn’t currently available from the Windows Store and neither are Firefox, Opera or any of the other major brands. Until they are, you’re stuck with Microsoft’s Edge browser. But even when (if?) those rivals come on board, Edge will always be the default browser for Windows 10 S and there’s no getting
around that – anything you try to open will always activate Edge.
In fairness, Edge is faster, slicker and more secure than Internet Explorer ever was, but
Microsoft is still depriving users of a choice of browser – an arrogance that has got it in trouble before.
I’m happy with Edge – so all’s well, then?
Not quite. Any search queries you type in the address bar will be handled solely
by Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, and you can’t change that either. Microsoft
is locking you into its own services by preventing you from using Google and
other rivals by default. This could easily be a deal breaker for many users.
Isn’t there a workaround?
If you wanted to use an alternative search engine to Bing (and let’s face it, you will),
then you’ll have to visit www.google.com (or whatever your preferred search engine is) by manually typing its URL in the address bar. You could bookmark such sites to make them easier to visit in the future, but this feels like a retrograde step.
So there’s no way out of Windows 10 S?
There is one: you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. This will be free until the end of 2017, after which the upgrade price has been set at $49, so expect to pay around the same in pounds. Following this path would let you use apps from outside the Windows Store again – but it also means you’ll need a computer that can comfortably handle Windows 10 Pro,
and you’d lose the speed, security and battery perks of 10 S. Also, once you’ve
upgraded, you can’t go back.
Ignoring all that, how can I get Windows 10 S “for a friend”?
Various machines will come with it preinstalled from the summer while schools will be able to swap Windows 10 Pro for 10 S, with the bonus of getting Office 365 Education thrown in. The first available to-buy computer is the new Surface laptop, which comes with a 13.5in touchscreen, up to 16GB of RAM and a solid-state drive of up to 512GB.
This will last for up to 14.5 hours of video playback thanks to the way Windows 10
S is built. Other computers with the OS installed will be sold by Acer, Asus, Dell,
Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba.
WILL WINDOWS 10 S BE GOOD FOR GAMING?
Although Windows 10 S comes with a free subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition, it won’t make for a versatile games machine. You’ll be able to run any game you find on the Windows Store, which means you can enjoy Microsoft-endorsed blockbusters such as Forza Motorsport, Call of Duty and Age of Empires, along with lots of indie titles. But you’ll be prevented from downloading and installing games from other services such as Steam (store. steampowered.com) and Electronic Arts’ Origin (www.origin.com),
which will put huge numbers of games out of reach. Don’t even consider Windows 10 S if you are an ardent gamer because in the lingo of gaming aficionados, you’ll find it “majorly sucks”.
Hope my article “What Is Windows 10 S? How Is It Different from regular Windows 10″ helps you to understand What Is Windows 10 S? If you have any query, feel free to comment.