Microsoft just announced a new operating system called Windows 10 S. The operating system is designed as a lightweight version of Windows to take on Chromebooks and MacBooks. Here’s everything you need to know about Windows 10 S.

It’s Primarily Designed for Educational Use

So far, Microsoft has explained that the operating system will primarily be meant for educational use, where Chromebooks have exploded with popularity.

The laptops are priced at an affordable rate for schools – between $180 and $300 (although the new $1000 Surface Laptop also features Windows 10 S).

What Does the S Stand For?

Windows chief Terry Myerson claims the “S” stands for the four core features of the new operating system:


Superior Performance

Streamlined for Simplicity

“Soul of Windows 10”

As you’ll see below, many people are also claiming the “S” could accurately stand for “Store” or “School”.

How Is It Different?

What makes Windows 10 S different from existing versions of Windows? Windows 10 S can only run apps from Microsoft’s Windows Store.

There’s one exception: traditional desktop software will continue to work on 10 S – but only if the developer packages it up as a Windows app in the Windows Store first.

Microsoft has already brought the full desktop Office apps to the Windows Store to get ready for the launch of Windows 10 S.

There’s another catch: Windows 10 S won’t run all Windows Store apps. The fact that an app is listed in the Windows Store doesn’t mean it will automatically work in Windows 10 S. Certain apps are prohibited – including command line apps, shells, and consoles.

Why is Microsoft banning those apps? The goal of Windows 10 S is to offer a smoother, faster version of Windows that works as fast on day 1 as it does on day 365. Windows Store apps stay inside their “sandbox” and don’t affect other parts of your system – like your registry or startup process. The banned apps mentioned above reach outside that sandbox.

The lack of command line apps and similar apps makes Windows 10 S a popular choice for school admins and teachers.

You Can Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro

If you really need to run desktop apps in Windows 10 S, and those apps aren’t on the Windows Store, then there’s one alternative method: you can upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro (oddly, you can’t upgrade to Windows 10 Home). Even more odd is that this is a one way process: you can’t revert back to Windows 10 S.

Windows 10 S Pricing

Windows 10 S is not available for sale on its own. Instead, it’s available on certain hardware. After announcing Windows 10 S, Microsoft announced a number of devices that feature the new OS, including:

Surface Laptop ($1,000 and up)

HP ProBook x360 Education Edition ($299)

Acer TravelMate Spin B1 Convertible ($299)

Dell Latitude 11 EDU ($600)

Toshiba, Samsung, Fujitsu, and Asus are also preparing Windows 10 S laptops of their own. Prices for these laptops are expected to start at around $189.

Anything Else I Need to Know About Windows 10 S?

Here are some of the other things we know about Windows 10 S already:

Cortana, Windows Hello biometric authentication, and other Windows 10 features are all found in the OS

Windows 10 S restricts your browser to Microsoft Edge, and your search results to Bing; if you want to Google something, you’ll need to search for Google on Bing first, or type it into your address bar

Older hardware peripherals may not work; Microsoft suggests that some hardware peripherals may have trouble with Windows 10 S

Windows 10 S has a number of advanced features only found in Windows 10 Pro, including mobile device management, Bitlocker encryption, and Azure active directory domain join,

Windows 10 S also has Windows Update for Business, a popular feature that allows admins to choose exactly which features they want to implement – and when they want to implement those features; admin can defer updates for up to 30 days

Meanwhile, students enjoy perks like a one year subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition, free Office 365 for Education, and automatic OneDrive support

Ultimately, Windows 10 S is mostly Windows 10, with the exception of a few features – and the addition of some features only found in Windows 10 Pro. It’s everything Windows RT was supposed to be – and much better.

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