What is Windows 10 S and how is it different from regular Windows 10?
On May 2nd, Microsoft announced its next chapter in the Windows 10 story – the Windows 10 S. This is a brand new version of Windows 10 that will be available with new machines.As per Microsoft, the S doesn’t stand for anything in particular, but the company has said that the Windows 10 S is streamlined for simplicity, security and speed. The version is also said to be inspired by students which some have taken as the reason behind the S.
Since we’re considering the differences between the Windows 10 versions, let’s start at the first step, installation and booting. Windows 10 S greatly simplifies the installation process. Multiple PCs can be set up with a single USB stick created using a built-in tool and the process is said to take around 30 seconds to complete. Since it is targeted towards educational institutes, schools will also be able to control all Windows 10 S devices connected to this network.
The boot up takes around 15 seconds. Plus, it has been designed for use on less efficient hardware than the full fledged Windows 10. It is also much lighter than the full version.
This is one major area of difference. Windows 10 S is restricted to running apps downloadable from the Windows Store. Though it might be a problem for some, for the targeted audience – schools and students – this might not make a whole lot of difference. the Windows Store has plenty of apps for daily use. With Microsoft’s Project Centennial – it is easier than ever to port Windows desktop applications onto the Windows store, thus making the future of the Windows Store very promising.
If you try to install a non-store app, Windows 10 S would suggest alternatives available in the Windows Store. If you still feel the need to run apps not available in the store, you can unlock Windows 10 Pro edition by paying a one time fee of $50. However, the unlock feature has been made available for free till the end of 2017.
Browser and Search Engine
The default browser on Windows 10 S is unsurprisingly Microsoft Edge. However, for the time being users will be restricted to Edge as the non-store apps policy will not let a user install Google Chrome nor Mozilla Firefox and neither of these browsers have been made available on the Windows store yet. Until that happens, users will not have a choice in browsers. the search engine though is limited to Bing with no option to change it. Microsoft will be making regional options available in areas where Bing isn’t available.
The Flip Side
The worry with Windows 10 S however, is the lack for desktop app support. One area of concern will be driver installations. While Microsoft will have inbuilt support for most drivers, users might be unable to install drivers for which there is no inbuilt support. However, Windows 10 S will only be available in new devices for now, so users might not have to face this problem.
Devices & Availability
For now, the only device Windows 10 S is available on is the Surface. However, with this OS being targeted towards students, we expect cheaper hardware to be made available in time with prices expected to be as low as $189 from a variety of Microsoft’s PC-making partners including Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung and Toshiba.
Windows 10 S is being pegged as a rival to Google’s Chromebooks. By a superficial comparison, Windows 10 S does seem to have a lot of promise especially if Microsoft can get app developers to migrate their desktop apps onto the Windows store.