Windows 10 S: The Fine Print

Posted on May 2, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 91 Comments

Windows 10 S: The Fine Print

It’s not every day that Microsoft releases a new Windows product edition. But today, they did just that: Windows 10 S will join Windows 10 and Windows 10 Pro on new PCs and at retail. We already know a lot about this new Windows SKU. But here are some late-breaking tidbits you may not have heard.

As with my Surface Laptop: The Fine Print post, I’ll divide these finding into good and bad categories.

Good: While there are many (mostly incorrect) theories about what the “S” means, I think this line from Microsoft says it best: “Windows 10 S is a specific configuration of Windows 10 Pro that offers a familiar, productive Windows experience that’s streamlined for security and performance.” Put simply, Windows 10 S is the future of Windows.

Good: Windows 10 S is based on Windows 10 Pro, not the base version of Windows 10. This means it includes Windows 10 Pro features like Azure Active Directory (AD) join, Windows Update for Business, Windows Store for Business, full Mobile Device Mangement (MDM) capabilities, BitLocker, enterprise roaming, and more.

Bad: Windows 10 S also does not include some Windows 10 Pro features. And while a complete list is currently unavailable, things like Hyper-V and Windows Subsystem for Linux are not available.

Good: If Windows 10 S does not work out you can upgrade t Windows 10 Pro at any time for $50.

Good: If you choose to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro before the end of 2017, Microsoft will waive the fee. Right, it’s free.

Bad: Right now, Microsoft Edge is the only mainstream web browser that works in Windows 10 S.

Good: Windows Store apps are more reliable, safer, and perform better than desktop applications.

Bad: Most people still need or want certain desktop applications, like Apple iTunes and Google Chrome, neither of which are available in the Store. And probably never will be.

Good: Microsoft is bringing its full-featured Office 2016 desktop applications to Windows Store via the Desktop Bridge (“Project Centennial”) technologies.

Bad: Windows 10 S is configured with Microsoft Edge as the default browser, and you cannot change it to a different browser.

Bad: Windows 10 is configured with Bing as the default search engine, and you cannot change it to a different search engine. (In some regions, the default search engine will instead be configured to a regional solution.)

Good: Windows 10 S is not just for students, and it is not aimed only at low-end, educational PCs. Instead, Windows 10 S was “inspired” by students and teachers, and it is, in Microsoft’s words, “a great choice for any Windows customer looking for consistent performance and advanced security … Windows 10 S is ideal for people who have everything they need in the Windows Store [and on the web] and prefer the peace of mind that comes with removing the risk of downloading apps from other places.”

Good: If a hardware device works with Windows 10, it works with Windows 10 S.

Bad: However, some devices that require desktop application utilities will provide limited functionality on Windows 10 S because those utilities will not install or run.

I’m sure this is just the tip of the Windows 10 S iceberg and that more information will become available over time. But hopefully this is a good start.

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