At its EDU event this morning, Microsoft introduced a new version of Windows 10 called Windows 10 S, its apparent answer to Google's increasingly-popular Chrome OS. This version of Windows will only be able to run apps from the Windows Store, and it's designed to be easily managed in education environments using a version of Microsoft's Intune device management platform.
If school staff or students need access to apps not on the Windows Store, Microsoft will offer administrators a way to upgrade Windows 10 S devices to Windows 10 Pro for free through the Windows Store. Non-institutional users will be able to upgrade for $50, according to Ars Technica. Windows 10 S devices for schools will offer a free one-year subscription to Minecraft Education Edition and free access to Microsoft Office 365 for Education.
Microsoft will make Windows 10 S easy to deploy on diverse hardware using a utility called "Set up my School PCs." This utility will create a Windows 10 S configuration that can be transferred to USB thumb drives and picked up as part of the Windows 10 setup process. Presumably, this step saves administrators from having to configure each managed device manually. Windows 10 S is also meant to get up and running on first use faster than full-fat Windows 10.
To mollify the paranoid who might believe that Microsoft will eventually make Windows 10 S the only Windows 10, Windows honcho Terry Myerson says the existing versions of Windows 10 represent the "open Windows platform," and "we plan to always continue to make [those versions] available alongside Windows 10 S."
Despite its education bent, Windows 10 S will be available on devices with a wide range of price tags that will be sold to regular folks, as well (including the just-announced Surface Laptop at $999 and up). Microsoft expects Windows 10 S machines to sticker for as little as $189, and it already counts Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba as partners in its effort.