You won’t see many of them in India, but Google’s ChromeOS is known to work well in schools abroad. Chromebooks seem to have had enough success with Microsoft, the big father of PCs, to be interested in the ecosystem. Yesterday, at an event in New York City, the company unveiled its own competitor for Google’s ChromeOS. It’s called Windows 10S and its only real match with Chrome OS is that it competes with that operating system.
Despite its name, Windows 10S feels like a second attempt at Windows RT, and although Microsoft failed in its previous attempt, times have changed. It is too early to say whether Windows 10S will be successful, but with the announcement, we have a fair idea of what you get and what you don’t get with Windows 10S.
What is Windows 10S?
Before we get into the advantages and disadvantages of Windows 10S, let’s talk about the OS. Although the operating system was introduced as a solution for schools and students, it will also have some consumer focus. In short, Windows 10S is a walled garden, created and operated by Microsoft. This allows you to have a portion of the full power of Windows, but not all of it.
In a larger scheme of things, Windows 10S aims to provide support for lower-end devices and streamline / avoid performance issues that typically appear on Windows laptops over time. As Microsoft has said about the Surface laptop, the goal is to have devices capable of “from orientation to graduation”.
What you get with Windows 10S
As mentioned above, you will find some Windows goodies with this operating system, but not all of them.
Quick login and performance
At the launch event, Microsoft said that Windows 10S would take about 15 seconds to login for the first time. Subsequent logins will be as fast as 5 seconds, which is a marked difference between Windows and its regular versions. Performance seems to be the key here by any means. Just like ChromeOS, Microsoft means to make Windows 10S smoother and faster, while maintaining the same performance for years after purchasing a device.
A desktop experience
ChromeOS is basically a complete system running inside the Chrome browser. On the other hand, there is the desktop experience associated with Windows 10S. Although Internet connection will still be required, it is possible that Windows 10S will not be dependent. The operating system also has some features of Windows 10, such as Beatlecar encryption, mobile device management and much more.
In our experience with Chromebooks, battery life is the highlight of Google’s software-powered laptops. Microsoft is making the same promise, and the company has even said that its new Surface laptop (running Windows 10S) will offer 14.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. In addition, a Windows 10S laptop will not lose battery if its lid is closed, Microsoft claims.
Windows 10S has two components for compatibility. First, Microsoft says that the OS will support almost all peripherals because it can access the Windows 10 driver database. Second, all devices compatible with Windows 10 will also be compatible with this new operating system.
Speaking of consistency
The story does not end there. With Windows 10S, Microsoft can predict the future of laptops. Windows RT was intended only for ARM-based machines, but not for Windows 10S ARM or the x86 architecture. With rumors circulating that Snapdragon-based Windows devices are on the way, this OST could be designed for such devices. There are probably more 2-in-1s on the way.
If Windows 10S can actually offer streamlined and smooth performance on ARM-based systems, it could be an indication of what the rumored Surface phone will be.
Chromebooks are usually cheap, which is why Microsoft needs to make sure. And that’s exactly what Windows chief Terry Myerson promised. He said Windows 10S-based laptops will arrive “this summer” at a starting price of $ 189. We still don’t know when and when these laptops (and OS) will arrive in India, but if they do, we expect prices to be below 20k, just as the Chromebook did a few years ago. This gives more reason to expect ARM-based PCs instead of Core M and Core i powered laptops.
Minecraft subscription: Education Edition will be included with Windows 10S
What do you lose?
A walled garden can never be without compromise and Windows 10S has its fair share.
Legacy desktop software
Enthusiastic Windows users will question the exclusion of desktop software from this OS. In fact, with the recent Creator Update, Microsoft has added the ability to do this on regular Windows as well. All apps running on Windows 10S need to be downloaded from the Windows Store, and anyone will tell you, it’s not the most populous there.
If you try to download legacy Windows software, OS will flag the download and give you two options: either try an app from the store, or get Windows 10 Pro.
This, though, carries the greatest advantage of Windows over any other system of legacy software. Think of it this way, it replaces the Surface tablet with a powerful laptop in the first place. Removing it allows Microsoft to make the platform more secure, but for a long time Windows users may not like it.
The complete suite of Office 2016 apps is coming to the Windows Store
On the other hand, if you compare it to ChromeOS, it can give Windows 10S a big advantage in the long run. If Microsoft could imply developers (which it didn’t do particularly well), literally any software could be ported to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and therefore kept in the Windows Store. In the long run, this means that while these applications may not only be available on Windows 10S, they may also address the “lack of apps” problem in the Windows PC (and possibly phones) ecosystem.
Why Windows 10 Pro?
The failure of Windows RT looks like a dark cloud over this launch, which is probably why Microsoft is still not pushing users to this platform. For the whole of 2017, the company will offer Windows 10 Pro for those who choose Windows 10S. The same offer comes for those who will buy a Surface laptop. The option will remain after 2017, but you will have to pay around $ 50 for it, which is much cheaper than what Windows 10 Pro will actually cost you.
You have to ask why Microsoft is taking this step. Isn’t it confident about its new operating system? Is it a warning about the failure of Windows RT? Or is Microsoft not sure if it really needs a Windows 10S to capture the education market? It’s worth noting that once you’ve become a pro there’s no way to get back to Windows 10S.
Bing and Edge
If killing legacy apps isn’t controversial enough, Microsoft has made Bing the default and only search platform on Windows 10S. So, to search the taskbar and browser, you need to use Bing. You can get close to it by opening Google.com and setting it as your homepage, but you can’t set it as your default search engine.
Also, Microsoft Edge must be the browser of your choice, unless Google and Mozilla decide to make Chrome and Firefox available through the Microsoft Store. Windows 10S will allow any browser (which is a significant improvement over ChromeOS), but the question is whether other browsers want to be in Windows 10S.
Join the domain
Domain Join was a feature introduced in Windows 7, which allows PCs to join domains remotely but securely. It is not available for Windows 10S.
The general consensus seems to be that Windows 10S is basically the second iteration of Windows RT, and one that is not limited. One major way to launch this is to pave the way for Microsoft’s ARM architecture, reducing reliance on x86 and Intel processors. While the new Surface laptop is a high-end device, the focus here is on cheaper and less powerful options that could really make a difference in a market like India.
Windows 10S may be the school of choice right now, but only because it is a ChromeOS competitor. If Microsoft can persuade developers to join UWP quickly, what the future holds.