Windows 10 S joins the battle with Chrome OS in classrooms

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.

Comments closed
    • derFunkenstein
    • 3 years ago

    Pricing on that Surface Laptop is terrible. Dell will sell you a nicer machine (Inspiron 13) for less money with the full Windows 10 “experience”.

    • Waco
    • 3 years ago

    How does one install driver updates on such a system? How does one install utilities that don’t exist in the Windows Store on such a system?

    Sigh. They’ll never learn.

      • curtisb
      • 3 years ago

      If you need it for that then you upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro, or this product isn’t for you.

      It will still run Win32 apps, as long as they come from the Windows Store. Spotify has already announced they’re repackaging their Win32 app to be released on the Store. Kodi is already there. Rumor says Office will be coming (notice that it includes free access to Microsoft Office 365 for Education if you’re using it for Education purposes?).

        • Waco
        • 3 years ago

        Driver installers don’t come from the Windows Store.

          • EzioAs
          • 3 years ago

          Windows Update then?

            • Waco
            • 3 years ago

            That’ll work GREAT the first time your WiFi drivers flake out.

            • EzioAs
            • 3 years ago

            It’s just a possibility though I’m guessing firmware updates could still be rolled out through Windows Update. They might make exceptions to allow signed drivers to install without needing the Windows Store.

            • Laykun
            • 3 years ago

            Since this is for more managed environments with known hardware configurations it’s likely that updated drivers/known to work drivers will get rolled into the system image. That’s generally how it works for very large enterprise distributions where you can deploy from USB or TFTP server.

            If there’s an issue with one piece of hardware related to drivers it’s likely all hardware has the problem and you’d need to re-image anyway (since the WiFi isn’t working it’s not going to be able to download drivers anyway).

            • Waco
            • 3 years ago

            It’s not for more “managed” environments if they’re selling it on the Surface Laptop…

      • psuedonymous
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<][How does one install driver updates on such a system?[/quote<]Windows Update. [quote<]How does one install utilities that don't exist in the Windows Store on such a system?[/quote<]You don't. Or rather: if you're an Enterprise user, you self-sign your Enterprise apps and distribute them through Sideloading. If you're an end user, you cannot be trusted not to much things up, so you don't get to play outside the sandbox (same as with Chromebox, which are incredibly popular). If you're a 'power user', then you either buy the upgrade to full-fat Windows, or you question your life choices that led you to be an idiot and buy the wrong device in the first place.

        • Waco
        • 3 years ago

        Windows Update doesn’t fix no connectivity because your WiFi drivers took a dump. Windows Update doesn’t fix a Windows Update breaking a driver such that you can’t connect to Windows Update. Relying on a single method of fixing anything is a very bad idea. If there’s a way around it, the whole effort is pointless. Either way, it’s a stupid plan IMO.

        I see no purpose for this version to exist *except* as a testbed for further restricting usage on Windows machines…which will slowly trickle up the stack.

    • NTMBK
    • 3 years ago

    If this is the low cost, educational only version… Why the hell did they put it on their flagship $1000 laptop? This feels like the thin end of the wedge.

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    Pfffft

    “Educational focus” my foot…

    This is the wedge in the door for Microsoft to monopolize the sales of software by controlling vendors and shutting out traditional Windows API software (Win32 and Win64). The thinly-veiled attempt to force people over to UWP is despicable, especially when all the major reviews I’ve read of the Creators Update to W10 criticize UWP for still being mobile-centric, despite Microsoft completely failing and conceding the smartphone and tablet market to Android/Apple.

      • LostCat
      • 3 years ago

      UWP has never been mobile centric. Try playing Forza Horizon 3 on that smartphone eh?

      • EndlessWaves
      • 3 years ago

      Conceeding the tablet market? Last time I checked windows hybrids and convertibles were getting as much shelf space and similar sales to android tablets.

    • Walkintarget
    • 3 years ago

    Hah !! Good luck with that one, MS. We have CBs from grades 3-12, 1 to 1, and they aren’t going away anytime soon.
    Since MS got bored with their phones, I assume this was the next area to go sniffing around for some sales to make shareholders happy.

      • One Sick Puppy
      • 3 years ago

      It’s odd that they haven’t seen fit to promote their biggest appeal: a sandbox OS. Maybe there’s far less profit in such an OS, but isn’t that what most PC users are used to and want? Also, there’s the residual effects of making an uncompromisingly great quality product and re-establishing consumer trust. When you buy Apple, you know you’re getting a high-end product, with few exceptions. When you buy a MS product, it’s a gamble with alot of potential for loss. At best you get a great product that might equal an Apple product, but at worst you just bought a Netbook.

        • NovusBogus
        • 3 years ago

        The “Windows your way” guys all got fired in the mid 2000s and replaced by kids who worship the almighty smartphone. That’s the root of all MS’s recent troubles.

    • bthylafh
    • 3 years ago

    What’s the definition of insanity, again?

    • DrDominodog51
    • 3 years ago

    There has been a great disturbance in the Force, as if thousands of PC enthusiasts moaned at once.

    • blastdoor
    • 3 years ago

    Seems like a very smart move.

    Apple should do something similar (say, $500 MacBook running an A10 that only runs app store apps), but I’m afraid they won’t. Apple seems to think iPad is the only product they need to sell schools.

      • pattouk2001
      • 3 years ago

      So in other words, an iPad… which runs an Axx class CPU with access to only the App Store?

    • the
    • 3 years ago

    The S stands for stupid.

      • smilingcrow
      • 3 years ago

      Sucker maybe!

      • dyrdak
      • 3 years ago

      or Sнit
      (had to fool the filter;)

      • psuedonymous
      • 3 years ago

      Windows for Stupid-users-who-can’t-be-trusted-to-install-Win32-programs-because-you-installed-the-same-cryptolocker-trojan-for-the-third-damned-time Edition.

    • adisor19
    • 3 years ago

    That new surface laptop is rather sweet. Apple is sleeping at the wheel.

    Adi

    • odizzido
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]This version of Windows will only be able to run apps from the Windows Store[/quote<] And so the first stage of making windows 10 only able to run windows store programs has happened. Next will be the lowest desktop version, then standard windows 10. If you had control of updates this wouldn't be an issue but no, they already knew they couldn't allow you to control updates and lock people into their store at the same time.

      • RickyTick
      • 3 years ago

      It can be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for $50.

      • Jeff Kampman
      • 3 years ago

      didn’t read lol?

        • odizzido
        • 3 years ago

        I did actually. MS is just doing this in baby steps.

        edit———–
        To clarify, I think MS will do whatever they can get away with to make more money like any other large company that has been around for a while. It seems that currently getting people to use the windows store is the best way for them. They cannot outright just say W10 is windows store only because people will switch back to 7(harder with newer hardware these days since they disabled updates for recent hardware) but they can slowly go in that direction. Baby steps.

          • Growler
          • 3 years ago

          They’ve been making baby steps, but their steps haven’t been leading to success. The last time I looked at the Windows store, there were very, very few first party A-list offerings. It was mostly a collection of poorly implemented copies of popular apps on Android and iOS.

          If Microsoft can’t fill the store with worthwhile options, people will flee their platform in droves if the store becomes mandatory. Also, they risk losing enterprise customers if these customers can’t control what they are able to install.

          In other words, Microsoft’s walled garden is not likely to be erected anytime soon.

            • slowriot
            • 3 years ago

            It will be erected, it’s already in progress. Just no one visits. THat’s not stopped companies like Microsoft from this type of behavior in the past.

            I’m with odizzido, I’m a bit shocked there are people who don’t see the writing on the wall here.

            • K-L-Waster
            • 3 years ago

            The walled garden strategy only works if your customers are inside. The fact no one visits is a huge impediment to them cutting over to this exclusively.

            Apple was able to create a walled garden ecosystem because there never was an open ecosystem for IOS. They didn’t have to entice users to upgrade to a version of the OS that locked them inside: users who had IOS devices were already inside from day 1 (with the exception of the small handful that jailbroke their devices).

            That approach won’t work for MS because there is an enormous user base already outside the garden who so far has little reason to walk in.

            • slowriot
            • 3 years ago

            Where did I claim it would work? I don’t. I think Microsoft is in a pretty poor spot in a lot of important tech platform markets.

            However, I do not believe Microsoft needs to gain traction with customers to continue moving in this direction. Eventually they simply won’t be able to compete with Apple and Google (this move is more about Google than Apple, Google is rapidly displacing MS in the education industry) because Microsoft will be saddled with a less profitable, higher risk platform than those two and their market share advantage will continue slipping away. It means they have to mimic Apple/Google on this front. They HAVE to start making money via a delivery system like the App Store or Google Play. They also have to find a way to get back into mobile. They’ve got no choice and their business/management/board members see this already.

            • curtisb
            • 3 years ago

            Enterprise customers have several options available to them. The Store for Business allows you to specify which apps can be installed (you add them as available apps), and there are Group Policy settings that only allows the Store for Business to be displayed rather than the full Store. It does require the use of Azure AD, but I think you only need Azure AD Basic. Being in the Education Sector, Azure AD Basic is included for free with our (also free) access to Office 365 for students, faculty, and staff. We’re about to implement it, and are planning on moving our student mailboxes out to Office 365 instead of on our on-premise Exchange Server.

      • One Sick Puppy
      • 3 years ago

      That presumes that W10S gets traction.
      What advantages does W10S have that makes it NOT a dumbed-down version of W10 such that people will want this over W10?
      When I think of a trimmed version of Windows, I think Windows 7 starter and Netbooks. Those are very, very painful memories to erase.
      – What advantages does it have over an already established Chrome OS? I think MS would do well to include the basic Windows apps like Notepad, sound recorder, calculator, etc. Having to find and download these things on Chromebooks is ridiculous and would easily give MS an big advantage.

        • LocalCitizen
        • 3 years ago

        W10S will be cheaper than W10. possibly free for low end boxes. (like free Windows was offered to OEMs on low end tablets)

        i’m with odizzido and slowriot here

        i think the plan is to first offer this on low end desktop / laptop / 2-in-1 / etc etc in the big box stores. this move could lower the system cost by a few dollars to attract buyers of such systems. you need more features? pay and upgrade. maybe 70% will. i think W10 home upgrade will be available for maybe $25-30. lower entry price, more profit for MS.

        this will for sure bring in more traffic to IE, edge, bing, windows store. if this (education field first) experiment works well, more resources will be spent on the windows store. maybe that will finally make windows store serious.

    • Anovoca
    • 3 years ago

    so basically an x86 version of RT?

      • ColeLT1
      • 3 years ago

      Quick, we need a replacement for RT!
      What should we call it?
      What comes between R and T?

        • Anovoca
        • 3 years ago

        MS Marketing board member pulls up google on his smart phone.

        • eofpi
        • 3 years ago

        e-g-r-e?

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