While you might not have realized it yet, Google’s Chrome OS operating system has slowly crept up on the US laptop market and is slowly nipping at the heels of Windows and Mac OS X mainly through the ever popular lines of Chromebooks hitting the market. This would make any company nervous and while Apple doesn’t seem bothered as they don’t offer any budget friendly laptops, Microsoft has taken notice and have announced the release of a Chrome OS competitor. Say hello to Windows 10 S, a slimmed down Windows that has been designed for the education and budget laptop market. However, this locked down operating system will mean using Microsoft Edge and Bing, which I know will not go down well with most users.
Windows 10 S And The New Surface Laptop:
Now, this is not the first time that Microsoft has tried to take on the Chromebook market. Back in 2014, Microsoft offered a few budget friendly laptops which ran a free Windows 8.1 with Bing OS pre-installed. Sound familiar? Didn’t think so, this is due to the fact that it was a massive failure for the tech giant and it was eventually scrapped with the release of Windows 10 in 2015. Not letting this failure get them down, Microsoft went back to the drawing board and have announced the release of Windows 10 S and its new Surface Laptop which will run the slimmed down OS. For those who expected this laptop to be a competitor to the super affordable Chromebook, you would be very wrong. The new Surface Laptop comes in at a whopping $999 for the entry-level model. Sure, the entry-level model features a Core i5 processor and a 128GB solid state drive which is more than you will get with any of the Chromebooks. However, the question still remains if this is necessary for a Chromebook competitor.
The biggest drawback of this new version of Windows is the fact that you will be completely locked into using applications that are available on the Windows Store. This will severely limit your user experience as popular applications such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are not available on the Windows Store. This is not entirely Microsoft’s fault as they do allow developers to port their desktop applications into the Windows Store, however it would seem that not many have done so and maybe Windows 10 S will change this. Attempting to run a third-party application will result in being prompted to update the operating system to Windows 10 Pro, which is the most expensive of the Windows operating systems. However, in a weird Microsoft twist, this upgrade will not cost you an arm and a leg as expected. But instead you will be able to upgrade the Pro for a mere $49, which is actually good value for money seeing as Windows 10 Pro currently retails for $199.99. However, if you would rather not spend the $49 and you need applications such as iTunes for your iPhone or iPod, Photoshop for some photo touch-ups or Chrome for your Google integration, then Windows 10 S will not be suitable for you.
Design And Performance:
While many of us would have expected a lite version of Windows 10, the new Windows 10 S is not that far off from the full version, which is great for us who are familiar with the operating system. The added benefit of maintaining a similar look and feel means that some core features such as Windows Hello and Cortana will still be available in the new Windows 10 S. Microsoft has also promised improved battery life from laptops running Windows 10 S due to the Edge browser. However, we will have to wait and see if this operating system has any effects on the battery life at all. Being targeted at schools and students, Microsoft’s aim is that manufacturers will release more affordable laptops due to the lower system requirements needed to effectively run Windows 10 S. As mentioned above, there are limited applications for Windows 10 S and many of us are cringing at the thought of having to use Microsoft Edge and Bing. Microsoft has mentioned that you will be able to download other browsers that are in the Store, however Edge and Bing will still be your defaults and are locked. Sure, this is no different to Chrome OS, however, when have you ever heard anyone say “let me quickly Bing that for you”? As a bonus, Windows 10 S includes a one-year Microsoft Office 365 subscription, however thereafter the standard subscription rates apply.
Microsoft have mentioned that security will be improved with Windows 10 S and this makes sense as applications won’t be able to run unless they’re packaged and available in the Windows Store. So how does this help security? Well, due to the fact that the applications need to be on the Windows Store, they will have to be pre-approved by Microsoft and can easily be checked at any point. This will allow Microsoft to pull any application that poses a risk to your laptop. This will also help prevent malware and unnecessary applications from being installed. We can also expect certain settings to be locked, making it harder for users to mess with their operating systems.
Windows 10 S will be offered as a secure operating system that promises to improve the performance of entry-level laptops with lower performance hardware. While there are no official hardware requirements yet from Microsoft, we have been assured that it will run on all devices that currently support Windows 10. However, only time will tell if this version of Windows 10 will be popular as the limited Windows Store might turn away some users who will prefer the stock standard Windows 10 Home experience. If you don’t want to wait for Windows 10 S and the host of new laptops that will run the operating system, then head over to our Chromebook guide where you might find a great deal on a laptop for home or school use.