7 Things You Must Know about Microsoft's New Windows 10 S Operating System
Article by George Norman
On 03 May 2017
At a special Microsoft Education event in New York City, the software giant did more than present its vision on inclusive and immersive learning. It also unveiled a new Windows experience called Windows 10 S.

Take a look below to uncover the main things you need to know about Microsoft’s new Windows 10 S operating system.


1. It’s meant for students and schools (but not exclusively)

Windows 10 Home is meant for regular folk, Windows 10 Pro is meant for advanced users who need more from the operating system, and the new Windows 10 S is meant for students and schools.

"Windows 10 S is inspired by students and teachers, streamlined for simplicity, security and superior performance. I believe it best reflects the soul of Windows," explained Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group, Terry Myerson.

In this FAQ, Microsoft further explained that Windows 10 S is "also a great choice for any Windows customer looking for consistent performance and advanced security. By limiting apps to those in the Windows Store, Windows 10 S is ideal for people who have everything they need in the Windows Store and prefer the peace of mind that comes with removing the risk of downloading apps from other places."

So while Windows 10 S is mainly aimed at students and schools, it can also be used by anyone who is happy with what the Windows Store has to offer.

2. It’s based on Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 S isn’t based on Windows 10 Home, as you might have expected. It’s based on Windows 10 Pro and comes with features that only Windows 10 Pro can offer, such as Azure Active Directory (AD) join, Windows Update for Business, Windows Store for Business, full Mobile Device Management (MDM) capabilities, BitLocker, enterprise roaming, and more.

"Windows 10 S is a specific configuration of Windows 10 Pro that offers a familiar, productive Windows experience" explains this FAQ. "Windows 10 S has many of the features of Windows 10 Pro, but for security and performance it exclusively runs apps from the Windows Store and uses Microsoft Edge as its default browser."

3. It is free for schools

Compatible, genuine Windows 10 PCs used by schools get Windows 10 S for free. Schools that want their PCs to run the new Windows 10 S can make the switch for free.

Alternatively, schools can purchase new PCs that come with Windows 10 S preinstalled. Microsoft offers a nice range of affordable PCs powered by Windows 10 S, as you can see here.

4. It powers the sleek and thin Surface Laptop

The new Surface Laptop has a 13.5-inch touchscreen made with edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass 3, features up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage, is powered by a 7th Generation Intel Core processor, comes with a battery that should last up to 14.5 hours, weighs just 2.7lbs (1.25kg), is 14.47mm at its thickest point, and it is available in four different colors: Platinum, Graphite Gold, Cobalt Blue, and Burgundy. Each color option comes with a matching Signature Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard – specially treated to resist spills, stains, and absorption, very easy to wipe clean.

The new Surface Laptop is available for pre-order right now, with prices starting at $999 and going all the way up to $2,199. The cheapest option, the $999 Surface Laptop, comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD storage, and Intel HD Graphics 620. And the most expensive option, the $2,199 Surface Laptop comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD storage, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640.

To sway you to order a Surface Laptop, Microsoft is offering a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal and 1TB of free storage on OneDrive for a limited time.

5. It only runs Windows Store apps (for security reasons)

As Microsoft explained, the new Windows 10 S is "streamlined for security and superior performance." To keep you safe and protected, Microsoft won’t let you install apps unless you get them from the Windows Store.

"Every app in the Windows Store is verified for security by Microsoft so you get an experience you can trust," said Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Deices, Panos Panay. "If you need to use an app that isn’t in the Windows Store, in just a few clicks can go to the Windows Store and switch to Windows 10 Pro," Panay added.

Switching to Windows 10 Pro will cost you $50, but if you purchase a Surface Laptop and upgrade before the end of 2017, Microsoft will waive the fee.

So to recap, Windows 10 S doesn’t run traditional desktop applications, it only runs Windows Store apps. The only way around this is to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, which won't cost you a thing if you purchase a Surface Laptop,

6. Microsoft Edge is the default browser (and you can’t change that)

The default browser in Windows 10 S is Microsoft Edge, and there’s no way around that. The operating system won’t let you change the default browser.

As Terry Myerson explained, Windows 10 S can run any browser in the Windows Store. You won’t be able to set it as the default, but at least you’ll be able to run it. My top 3 favorite web browsers are Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. The problem is that neither of them are available on the Windows Store. This means I’m stuck with the default browser, Microsoft Edge, until these three make it to the Windows Store – if they’ll ever make it.

So to recap, the default browser in Windows 10 S is Microsoft Edge and, at least for now, it is the only mainstream web browser that works in Windows 10 S.

7. Bing is the default search engine (and no, you can’t change it)

It’s a similar story with Bing. It is set as the default search engine and you can’t change that.

In certain regions, Bing is replaced by a "designated regional search provider." And no, you can’t change that either.

Windows 10 S is expected to launch this summer. Surface Laptop orders start shipping on June 15.

That’s it. Those are the 7 important things I think you should know about Windows 10 S. If you want to learn more about Windows 10 S, go check out its official website here.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows 10, Windows 10 S, Surface Laptop, education, students, teachers, schools
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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