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What is Windows 10 S? Microsoft's Chrome OS rival explained

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Microsoft has finally unveiled Windows 10 S (or Windows 10S, if you prefer) – here’s everything you need to know about the new Chrome OS rival, including the latest information on when you might be able to download Windows 10 S.

Windows 10 S is a stripped-down version of Microsoft’s main desktop operating system, designed for schools. It's set to feature on a range of third-party devices, as well as the new Surface Laptop.

This new OS features a simplified, redesigned home screen and takes a similar strategy to Google’s Chrome OS. Windows 10 S is significantly more locked down than the normal version of Windows 10 and will only let students install applications from the central Windows Store.

The move is designed to stop students installing malicious software, but will also stop schools from taking advantage of freeware applications such as GIMP, a popular free alternative to Photoshop.

Microsoft hasn’t revealed Windows 10 S’s system requirements but has confirmed it will run on "the full range of Windows 10 hardware, from the Surface Book to cheap laptops."

Asus, Acer, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Fujitsu are creating Windows 10 S devices which will launch "in the coming months," with pricing starting at $189 (~£146).

Related: Windows 10 S laptops

Can I download Windows 10 S?

Teachers will be able to update any Windows 10 S device to Windows 10 Pro free of charge. The OS will also come with a free one-year subscription to Minecraft Education Edition. Microsoft Office 365 and Intune for Education will also be free with Windows 10 S.

However, it's not clear at present if Microsoft will make Windows 10 S available for download, or if it will stay tied to specific device, at least for the launch period.

The latter case seems likely, as Windows 10 S wasn't previously available to beta testers via the Windows Insider Program to the best of our knowledge.

After the initial Windows 10 S hardware rollout, though, that could well change.

We'd be rather surprised if Microsoft didn't offer its new operating system to a wider range of Windows devices at some point, as lightweight software brings a number of benefits, especially on the battery life front.

The option to dual-boot Windows 10 and Windows 10 S would be particularly intriguing and could curry Microsoft a fair bit of favour.

We've reached out to Microsft for clarification and will update this article with any additional information we're able to glean.

Related: Best laptops

What are your first thoughts on Windows 10 S? Let us know in the comments below – and check back regularly as we'll be updating this article with more details as they become available.

RaminNoodles86

May 2, 2017, 2:28 pm

Little skeptical about this. In theory, sounds like a good idea to compete against Chromebooks. But the windows store has a terrible seleciton of apps. I remember I got £25 worth of free credit to use in the app store, and i couldn't spend it all because all the apps were pointless.

JedyKnight

May 2, 2017, 2:41 pm

They never learn do they? windows RT failure again round 2 ..

jimmy

May 2, 2017, 4:47 pm

Way too restrictive. The windows store is terrible.
These will sell because they are cheap. But then people will abandon them as they won't have understood the restrictions before buying them.
As Jedy knight says, "windows RT again"

Haydn Rowlands

May 2, 2017, 7:06 pm

Microsoft really doesn't have a clue here. It took them 6 years and this is what they come with? Limited to the Windows Store, no freeware can be downloaded. Come on. Schools love Freeware. At least the ones I went to did; as soon as they realise that they have to pay for a licence off the Windows Store, for the same product they were getting for free before, they'll just shrug, and order another batch of 100 Chromebooks.

PS. but hey, at least every device comes with a year of Minecraft! Oh, please. Schools want devices teenagers can write essays on, not playthings for 9 year olds.

PPS. Make the Windows Store usable on a realistic basis. The 500 or so decent apps on there right now really can't compare to a Chromebook with Google Play (1,500,000).

Hamish Campbell

May 3, 2017, 8:00 am

"Teachers will be able to update any Windows 10 Pro device to Windows 10S free of charge"

errrr...isn't that a downgrade?

John johnson

May 3, 2017, 1:57 pm

With a $999 entry price, this does not compete with Chromebook, almost all of which are below $300. When a laptop is dirt cheap, a limited OS (ChromeOS) is acceptable. At $999 and with Windows' awful app store, this is a terrible value. Not to mention the specs are unimpressive at 4 GB RAM, and only 128 GB of storage.

Clive Foster

May 5, 2017, 7:23 pm

I pity that poor school in Colorado that has 600 of these devices when they all attempt to download Office (when it turns up in the store) over the districts internet connection. I hope they're not planning to do any teaching that week !

marcwilson

May 6, 2017, 11:25 am

"The move is designed to stop students installing malicious software,"

Yeah, right.

The move is designed to stop the installation of software that makes no revenue for MS.

Christine

May 8, 2017, 10:03 pm

I have no interest in 10S. I will stick with my 10. I sure hope this 10S is not a look at the future of Windows with their forced updates, adding something like this to my computer. I want to control what I put on my computer. I am an adult. I use chrome and IE and intend on using them forever.

Walter Head

May 14, 2017, 5:02 am

Every dark, looming cloud has a silver lining of some sort. I think that if this new OS is well received it will cause Microsoft to seek some much needed upgrades to their Store. That might help along their phones, tablets, and their new... laptards.

Walter Head

May 14, 2017, 6:10 am

I don't know if this article has been edited since you commented, but now it says "Teachers will be able to update any Windows 10 S device to Windows 10 Pro free of charge."

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