Microsoft just introduced Windows 10 S — a new version of the operating system aimed at students of all ages, that promises higher performance, better battery life, and tighter security.
Windows 10 S, which Microsoft unveiled at an event on Tuesday in New York City, isn’t really intended for existing PCs. Instead, expect Windows 10 S to make its debut on cheap laptops and tablets from PC manufacturers, offering cheaper computers with more bang for their buck.
The “S” stands for “streamlined, significant performance, and security,” says Microsoft Windows boss Terry Myerson said on stage at Microsoft’s event in New York City today, but he says it also stands for the “soul” of the operating system.
This new Windows 10 direct shot at Chrome OS, Google’s lightweight browser-based operating system, which has led cheap Chromebooks to unseat Apple as the number-two player in the global education market, behind Microsoft Windows, in only about five years.
But the perks of Windows 10 S come with a tradeoff: You’ll only be able to download and run apps from the Windows Store, the app store built into Windows 10. Which means, at the very least, that you’re stuck with Microsoft Edge, the browser built into Windows 10, since Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox aren’t (currently) in the Windows Store. Microsoft Office, the full desktop versions, are coming to the Windows Store “soon,” says Windows boss Terry Myerson.
However, this approach does carry some ancillary benefits. Because Windows 10 S won’t let you run any software that hasn’t been pre-vetted by Microsoft for the Windows Store, it means that there’s a greatly reduced chance that you’ll get infected by any nasty viruses or malware. That’s a big deal for schools, and anyone else non-technical, too.
And without the ability to install outside software, it also greatly reduces the amount of stuff that’s running in the background. That means that, much like Google’s Chromebooks, Windows 10 S-powered PCs can boot up quickly, and get snappier performance with less slowdown.
Finally, Windows 10 S has one big thing that Chromebooks don’t: If you’re using Windows 10 S, and you decide that the whole “Windows Store” thing is too limiting, you can pay a relatively small fee to upgrade to a full version of Windows 10 Pro — at which point, it becomes just your normal, everyday Windows computer. At that point, though, you theoretically lose out on the better battery life and guaranteed higher performance.
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