You might have missed it, but Microsoft quietly released a new operating system called Windows 10 S.
That operating system is designed primarily for schools. It’s built to compete with Google’s Chromebooks – which are taking an increasingly large share of Microsoft’s school userbase.
Today, we’re explaining 5 things you need to know about the new Windows 10 S OS.
What Does the S Stand For?
Most people understand that the “S” in Windows S stands for “schools”. Microsoft officially claims the S stands for four different aspects of the operating system however, including its Security, Superior Performance, Streamlined Interface, and “Soul of Windows 10”.
As you’ll learn below, the “S” could also stand for the Windows Store.
What’s the difference between Windows 10 S and Windows 10? The difference is that Windows 10 S is a streamlined, lightweight version of Windows 10 that can only run apps from Microsoft’s Windows Store. You cannot run conventional desktop software on a Windows 10 S device (unless the developer has made that software available through the Windows Store).
Why did Microsoft release a new version of Windows 10 S?
The version is primarily catered towards schools. It’s a more locked down version of Windows 10. Schools can give students laptops running Windows 10 S, and then relax knowing that they can’t install additional software on those laptops. A Windows 10 S device will only run Windows Store apps.
Microsoft has taken additional security measures with Windows 10 S. The OS runs all apps in a walled garden. It prevents the software from messing with your core system files, for example.
Another advantage of this approach is the smooth and fast operating speeds: a device running Windows 10 S will run as fast on day 1 as it does on day 365: since applications can’t modify core system files, your storage unit shouldn’t get bogged down with unnecessary programs or data.
You Can Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro
If you buy a Windows 10 S device and want to upgrade to the full version of Windows, then you can do that. Users can actually upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free until the end of 2017.
After the end of 2017, Windows 10 S devices can be upgraded to Pro for $49.
That upgrade, interestingly, is non-reversible. After you upgrade to “Pro”, you can’t switch back to the original version of Windows 10 S.
Everything Else You Need to Know
Ultimately, Windows 10 S is pretty much identical to Windows 10, aside from the whole walled garden and Windows Store restrictions. You can still access Windows 10 features like Cortana or the Windows Hello biometric authentication.
One interesting thing about Windows 10 S is that it prevents you from using any browser but Microsoft Edge as your default browser. Effectively, this means you have to use Microsoft Edge, because Chrome and Firefox aren’t listed in the Windows Store.
Furthermore, Windows 10 S makes it difficult to Google things. By default, all your searches use Bing.
Aside from these two changes, however, you’ll find that Windows 10 S works in a similar way to a Windows 10 operating system. Your same peripherals and devices will work.
Ultimately, Windows 10 S is a Windows RT-like version of Windows catered primarily towards schools and education organizations. For most people, Windows 10 is perfectly fine – you don’t need to start using Windows 10 S anytime soon.