Windows 10 S Unveiled: Here's How It's Different

Microsoft today (May 2) announced Windows 10 S, an education-focused version of Windows 10 that runs only preinstalled applications or apps downloaded from the Windows Store. It’s Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chrome OS, a cloud-based operating system that has has been particularly popular in schools. Windows 10 S will launch this summer on PCs starting at $189.

The company detailed the operating system at an education-focused event in New York. Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson said Windows 10 S is streamlined for simplicity, and has superior performance, but he claimed the S stands for the "soul" of Windows. The stripped-down OS, he added, is designed for creative use in and out of the classroom.

The only apps that run on Windows 10 S are those that are preloaded on the machines, and those are downloaded from the Windows Store. Myerson said that these restrictions are for safety and security. (He added that Office 365 will soon come to the Windows Store.) Windows 10 S will also work with upcoming mixed-reality headsets and other peripherals, Myerson said.

If you try to install a piece of software that isn't in the Microsoft Store, Windows will suggest an alternative that can be installed, Myerson said. However, he said that administrators would be able to upgrade Windows 10 S machines to Windows 10 Pro if they needed the computers to be able to use software unavailable in the Windows Store.

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The Microsoft Edge browser will be getting a revamp, too. It will have specific features for students, such as annotation and inking, similar to what you'd see in Windows Ink in regular Windows 10. 

Windows 10 S runs on any laptop that can run regular Windows 10, including the Surface Book and any entry-level notebook. Administrators can set up Windows 10 easily by picking apps and putting them on a USB key, automatically configuring one laptop at a time with a special setup Wizard, Myerson said.

Microsoft's partners for Windows 10 S include Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung and Toshiba, and Windows 10 education PCs will start at $189. All of these PCs will have a free subscription for Minecraft: Education Edition. Office 365 for Education will be free for students and teachers, and Windows 10 S will be available for all schools with Windows 10 Pro PCs.

This focus on education is a high-stakes game for Microsoft, but one it's been losing to Google. Last year, Chromebooks outsold Windows and Mac laptops in the education market for the first time. 

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