Microsoft has launched a new version of its OS. It’s called “Windows 10 S,” and it’s a new version specifically designed for the education market, and it’s positioned to take on Google Chromebooks and devices running Chrome OS.
Although the company refers it as a version that has been streamlined for security and superior performance, it’s actually a locked-down version of Windows 10 Pro that “only” runs Windows Store apps, and it includes new set of tools to make easier for school administrators to setup and manage computers in a network environment.
Windows 10 S can be upgraded
To be clear, similar to Windows RT, you won’t be able to install traditional desktop (win32) applications, unless, the app is converted and made available into the Store. However, in those cases when it’s necessary to run traditional apps, Windows 10 S can be easily upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for $49.
Schools and students running Windows 10 S on a Surface Laptop can upgrade for free, but it’s a limited time offer that will expire at the end of 2017. After the upgrade, you won’t be able to go back to the previous version — and Windows 10 Home is not an option.
What devices can run Windows 10 S
This is not a version of Windows 10 that you’ll be able to buy from Amazon, the Microsoft Store, or any other retailer. Instead, Microsoft will load this new OS on its new Surface Laptop, and it’ll be available for free to manufacturers to preload on new devices, in particular low-cost devices. According to Microsoft new Windows 10 education PCs will start at $189.
Schools already running a pro version of Windows on their PCs can also upgrade for free to Windows 10 S.
Windows 10 S comes with a few perks
New devices preloaded with Windows 10 S will include a free (one year) subscription of Minecraft (education edition).
In addition, Microsoft will be making available Office 365 for Education free for teachers and students, which also includes Microsoft Teams with new features for the classroom.
School administrators will also get access to the new My Setup PC app, which is an app that allows to quickly and easily setup a computer for students.
Using this app, administrators can prepare a packaged with pre-defined settings, such as Wi-Fi, camera, apps to be installed, and others. Once the package is ready, it can easily be exported to an USB drive. Then administrators would only need to connect the USB drive to a newly imaged PC, which Windows 10 will detect automatically to complete setting up the computer.
This new approach using My Setup PC app will help administrators to get students setup and working a lot quicker.
Microsoft Edge is your only default browser
While Microsoft says that you’ll be able to use any browser you want, it has to be one that is available in the Windows Store, which currently doesn’t include Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Additionally, even if Chrome and Firefox were available in the Store, on Windows 10 S there is not an option to set another browser as your default or to change the default search engine, which means that you won’t be able to set Google for search.
Windows 10 S works with all your current peripherals
This might be a new version of the OS, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll need to buy new peripherals. According to the company, Windows 10 S will work with all the devices currently supported on any edition of Windows 10.
Wrapping things up
While there isn’t a specific release date, it’s expected that Windows 10 S will be broadly available sometime in the summer.
Along with the announcement, Microsoft has also confirmed that the full suite of Office desktop apps is coming to the Windows Store.
It’s should be noted that Microsoft isn’t positioning Windows 10 S as another version for consumers. Instead, it’s a new edition with primary focus on education, as it’ll only be available on education PCs and for schools.