During an event today in New York, Microsoft unveiled what’s called Windows 10 S. It’s a lighter version of their Windows 10 operating system that launched in 2015 in two forms: Home and Professional. Microsoft hopes to tackle the ever-growing education market that’s been overcrowded by the likes of Google’s Chome OS and Chromebook-branded hardware.
Windows 10 S is basically Windows 10, just stripped down. Software that can run on the OS has to be passed through Microsoft and published to the Windows Store. In other words, you won’t be able to download an .EXE and install it like you can on full-fledged Windows. But that’s not Microsoft’s goal here. It’s to provide a lightweight OS that can compete with education-focused competitors such as Google.
Expanding on its lightness, Windows 10 S allows for lower-end specifications to run the operating system swiftly and smoothly, therefore eliminating the need for high-end internals like Intel Core i-series processors. It also allows for quicker boot times, with the average boot-up of Windows 10 S occurring in as little as a few seconds. For a student using the OS for the first time, it should take about 15 seconds for everything to be set up and ready for use thanks to support for peripheral connections like a special USB drive.
Microsoft also noted that any browser uploaded to the Windows Store will be compatible with Windows 10 S. This obviously takes a direct jab at Google and Chrome OS as if Google were to upload Chrome to the Store, all Windows 10 S devices would have access to it. This would also strip Chrome OS of most of its functionality and usefulness with the exception of Android apps. But with Windows 10 as the base of the operation, would you really need them anyway?
Windows 10 S should also be much more secure than standard Windows 10. With only apps allowed to be installed via the Windows Store, this blocks out all connections and tunnels leading to ransomware across the internet that can be easily installed without a user’s knowledge. Now, both the user and Microsoft have total control over what gets installed on the OS and what doesn’ which, if you haven’t already realized it, is a big deal.
You can also expect better battery life with Windows 10 S since the OS is lighter on resources. It’s unclear how drastically different users can expect their laptops to last, but if it’s anything similar to Google’s Chrome OS, expect at least all-day usage out of a full charge.
Office 365 will also make it to Windows 10 S. Microsoft says full-on desktop versions of Office apps will hit the Windows Store “soon.” In addition, Minecraft: Education Edition with new tools to teach kids how to code will also be offered for free to all Windows 10 S users. Schools will also have free access to Office 365 education.
Finally, a new version of Microsoft’s Teams platform will also be offered to better incorporate the company’s efforts for the education market. It’ll allow teachers to communicate with students (either by text or emojis, stickers, etc), view test scores and lesson materials, and integrate with currently-unknown third-party services. The company says this new edition of Teams will launch sometime this summer just in time for the Fall 2017 semester.
Microsoft says Windows 10 S devices will start at $189 and be available this summer. Interested users of the operating system can upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for a $49.99 fee. More information on Windows 10 S can be found here.