Living with Windows 10 S: The Basics

Posted on July 29, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 92 Comments

Living with Windows 10 S: The Basics

When it comes to Windows 10 S, you know what’s waiting for you: A world of Store apps and websites. But reality diverges wildly from theory when you actually try to use Windows 10 S. And here are a few basics to consider ahead of time.

First, here’s what I’m doing: In the grand tradition of “idiot blogger doing stupid stuff so you don’t have to,” I’m going to try and use Windows 10 S every single day between now and the middle of August, when I return from our annual home swap and move to Pennsylvania. Now, I’ve already used Windows 10 S, so I know what I’m in for. And it’s not pretty. So I’m going to bend the rules a little bit.

That is, I’m not going to just use Windows 10 S, and I’m going to split time between this limited new product and a more mainstream version of Windows. See, I’ve got real work to do. And let’s face it, the truth is that Windows 10 S just can’t cut it. Not yet.

So what’s the point? Simple: I feel that Microsoft’s efforts to move us to this more streamlined and modern Windows version is well-intentioned and even correct. It’s just Windows 10 S isn’t ready yet. So in an attempt to figure out which failings are big enough to require a compromise on Microsoft’s part, and which are just me being normal and set in my ways, I’m going to undergo some pain. I’m going to try and make this work. Again, I know this won’t go well. But I’m really going to try and fight through it.

And it’s already been a fight. The first 36 hours of using Windows 10 S haven’t exactly been tear-inducing, but they’ve been painful. Aggravating. Irritating. And exhausting. I’ll get to that, and I’m sure I’ll be ruminating more as we move forward about the work flow changes that this system may require of us all.

But let’s think about the basics here.

First, as the Windows 10 S website tells us, this new platform is “streamlined for security and superior performance.” That’s an empty platitude unless you know the specifics, which are these:

Apps. Like other Windows 10 product versions, Windows 10 S comes bundled with a mixture of traditional Win32 desktop apps (including File Explorer) and Store apps. But, as a user, you can only acquire new apps from the Store. In Windows 10 S parlance, these apps are called “verified” apps. Because we need another way to refer to these things, apparently.

Microsoft Edge. Windows 10 users spend over 50 percent of their time using the system in a web browser. And in Windows 10 S, that browser is Microsoft Edge, and only Microsoft Edge. This is good and bad, and I’m sure I have a Homeric post coming about using Edge in the real world. But for now understand that Edge’s ability to run web apps means that Windows 10 S users actually do have another avenue for apps, meaning web apps. And though the experience isn’t particularly sophisticated with Edge, web apps tend to be much better than any bundled or Store apps. So you’re going to want to get to know Edge. Sorry.

Edge. We’re stuck with each other.

Security. Like other Windows 10 product versions, Windows 10 S comes with a complete suite of security technologies, including Windows Defender and always-on disk encryption. Unlike with other Windows 10 product versions, however, you cannot install a more powerful or feature-complete AV or anti-malware solution on Windows 10 S. So you’re stuck with what Microsoft provides. This, too, is both good and bad. But from my perspective, Defender is just fine, and it is lightweight and rarely gets in your face. I see this one as a win.

Installing Windows 10 S this week, it occurred me that the first roadblock some are going to have to overcome is that you basically have to sign-in with a Microsoft account. If you’ve read the Windows 10 Field Guide, you know that I generally recommend that users of Windows 10 Home or Pro not sign-in to the system with a Microsoft account (MSA), especially when they first acquire a new PC or upgrade. Over time, you might want to switch that local sign-in to an MSA, but because I usually use so few Store apps, I just sign-in to individual apps as needed instead.

Don’t do this with Windows 10 S. Anyone who actually chooses to use Windows 10 S needs to be all-in with the Microsoft stuff, and the seamless pass-through of credentials in apps and OneDrive, and the ability to sync your settings between devices, is a big part of that. If you’re using Windows 10 S, you need to be onboard with MSA and, more generally, with Microsoft.

I’ve also seen, now, as in my first Windows 10 S experience back in June, that Windows 10 S is familiar until it isn’t. What I mean by that is that, as you get Windows 10 S set up using the Out of Box Experience (OOBE), it is familiar, and is, in fact, identical to the process you will undergo if you set up Windows 10 Pro. (That’s likely true for both individuals and business users, but I’ve only set it up using MSA, as an individual.)

This familiarity continues as you personalize the system in various ways and install apps from the Store. Which, I do only in limited ways normally. For example, I purchased the Store version of Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 because of its liberal install policies, whereas when you buy it directly from Adobe you can only install it on two PCs at a time.

But you will run into issues. Oh yeah you will.

In my case, Adobe Photoshop Elements 15—the one Store app I give a damn about—will not run; it simply crashes on the first-run experience. I tweeted about this on Friday, tried every app and Windows troubleshooting technique you can imagine, including completely reinstalling Windows 10 S, and it just would not work. And then Adobe reached out to me and told me they were aware of this issue and were working to fix it. Something specific to Windows 10 S, apparently. (Oddly, I installed and used this back in June, so it must be tied to a more recent update on either end.)

These are the terrible apps that the Store recommends as Photoshop Elements alternatives. Yes, really.

You’re going to need to experiment when it comes to apps and, in my experience, at least, there are compromises no matter which direction—a Store app alternative to a desktop application you currently rely on, or a web app—you turn.

So I typically use Google Chrome for my web browser because it is better than Edge in every way imaginable and because it works on mobile (Android, iOS) too, giving me the ability to sync bookmarks, passwords, and more between devices. Yes, web browsers are web browsers, and I admit that Microsoft has done a nice job of piling new features into Edge in each version. But it’s not just about browsing the web.

One Chrome feature I use extensively is its ability to add any website to your Windows desktop. When you do this, you can optionally choose “Open as window” to make these pinned shortcuts behave like native app windows, with no browser UI. I do this for Google Inbox, Google Calendar, and Twitter Lite, an incredible Progressive Web App (PWA) that is just as good as any native Twitter client.

The version of Edge that ships with Windows 10 S doesn’t even support the ability to pin web page shortcuts to the taskbar, let alone run web apps in native app windows. Yes, the ability to pin web page shortcuts to the taskbar is coming in the Fall Creators Update, yes. But when you open those shortcuts, they just open in a new tab in the existing Edge window. It’s not sophisticated at all.

Windows 10 S is so helpful when you try to install a real web browser.

So this is going to require compromise. Your ability to weather these work flow changes will depend on the individual, but I can say from experience that this kind of thing eats away at me, and once I reach some threshold, I just give up. This is why I don’t use Edge on Windows 10 Pro: The things it doesn’t do well, or at all, just add up until I can’t take it anymore and go running back to Chrome. I have had similar experiences on Chromebook, macOS, and the iPad Pro.

Well, I can’t do that in Windows 10 S. So I’m going to have to compromise, and figure out whether I can use native apps, like Mail, Calendar, and Twitter. Or maybe I just use Edge and web apps. Neither is super-appealing to me, but at least the native apps are standalone windows and reasonably usable. The web apps are better, more efficient in use, but stuck inside a web browser.

The things you can’t do will add up. How this impacts you, again, will vary according to how you do things and what apps and services you use. Chrome is obvious enough, but I also use Dropbox for my book work and, oops, you can’t install the Dropbox sync client—or any non-OneDrive sync client—on Windows 10 S. So you have to either deal with the website or the Store app.

Microsoft likewise doesn’t allow you to even change the default search engine in the Edge browser, so if you want to use Google Search like a normal person, you’re going to have to change the way you do things—no more address bar search for you, Bing boy—and maybe put a bookmark to Google in your Favorites. Or just make Google your home page. Which I think is what I’m going to do.

I’ll write about the app choices I’ve made, and will likely change over time, in the near future. But suffice to say that the availability of high-quality Store apps is so small to make that term oxymoronic. And I’ve found very little in the way of apps that are acceptable counters to the web apps and desktop apps I usually use. This is an ongoing struggle.

If you’re living with Windows 10 S, you’re already on the bleeding edge, so you may want to consider enrolling your PC into the Windows Insider Program. This will give you early access to new Windows 10 features, which at this time means the Fall Creators Update. And while I normally don’t recommend that to norms, that product version is, in fact, essentially complete and the risks are lower. On that note, I’ve upgraded Windows 10 S to the Fall Creators Update, if only to take advantage of Edge’s new ability to pin websites to the taskbar. At least grant me that indulgence.

What me worry?

Software developers, gamers, and other power users will never be able to use Windows 10 S, not now and not in the foreseeable future. And the truth is, I can’t use it either: I just rely on too many solutions that can’t work, or work well, in this environment. But then that’s why I’m splitting my time for the next few weeks. And it’s going to be frustrating.


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Comments (92)

92 responses to “Living with Windows 10 S: The Basics”

  1. thespecificocean

    I probably could have lived with 10 S on my Surface Laptop (When I had it) but I often have little projects pop up that go outside of what 10S could do. The majority of the time my laptop needs are satisfied by a browser and a few little utilities which I have found in the store (File Renamer, MediaTag, etc...) Much like the iOS app store in its initial years I see lots of little single purpose utilities and games. Down the line we'll hopefully get those bigger, more complex apps.

    Do you think that 10 S should be a downloadable free Windows version similar to Linux?

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to thespecificocean:

      Yes. 10S should be the "Free To Play" version of Windows.

      To those who will say "NOOOO !! BUT JIIMEY!! BECUZ THAY SEY TEH FREE [email protected]!!!!1111eleven" You do know that they 1) Said that it was for people who purchased hardware with Windows 10S 2) Can do whatever the fuck they want 3) Aren't stupid.

      They won't give a free upgrade to 10 Pro to a free 10S license. Hell, they wouldn't even give a discount. "You got 10S for free and want Pro? Screw you, pay us!"

      Expect to pay at least $100 and to know up front that you'll be paying that much for it before you download it.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        A different spin on your 2nd paragraph. If Windows 10 S were free to download, install and use for anyone, with no free upgrade to Pro, how much would OEMs pay for Windows 10 S license kits since they'd see $0 from upgrades to Pro?

        As I see it. make Windows 10 S a free download for anyone, and that'd guarantee it'd never be preinstalled on any OEM machines.

  2. jimchamplin

    Something that's pitiful at this point...

    Seeing Paul's first screenshot, the hero image. Seeing great icons in his Taskbar like Appy Text... Then seeing Skype. That at this point, Microsoft still has first-party apps that have those shit-tastic mini-tiles as Taskbar icons is just fucking sad.

    It looks like absolute crap and it's one of the things that made me give up. A lot of you people will think it's "too minor to matter" or something but it's not. It's a sign of systemic problems. If they can't even be bothered with making sure the icons are good and do not look like a pile of dog turds, then what else did they shrug at? Stability and security issues? THE ENTIRE FUCKING LEGACY UI!?

    It's like the old Van Halen contract rider. If they didn't bother to remove the brown M & Ms, did they make sure that the venue was up to electrical standards and won't catch on fire when Eddie turns on his amps?

    • crfonseca

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      It's Skype.

      And the guys behind Skype obviously have, er, issues... Just look at how they responded to the new Skype for iOS and Android debacle.

      Also, fun fact, the "desktop" version of Skype actually has a better looking icon when pinned to the taskbar than the UWP version.

  3. JHawkZZ

    Godspeed, Paul. Thanks for being our guinea pig :)

    • bbold

      In reply to JHawkZZ:

      You're forgetting, at this point, every owner of a Surface Laptop is Microsoft's 'guinea pig', including myself ;) Microsoft really need to spell that out in their packaging for this laptop. "Beware: some Store apps and drivers will not install on 10 S! But the fuzzy keyboard sure feels nice."

  4. Eoin Haluch

    Paul, you are reviewing 10S and comparing it to full Win10. Is that fair, it is even valuable? We all know it's limited, lets face it that's the point. Why not do comparisons with Chrome OS, after all it's because of Chrome OS MS released 10s.

  5. Win74ever

    "Microsoft’s efforts to move us to this more streamlined and modern Windows version is well-intentioned and even correct."

    No, it's not. They just want to make money from a Store. It can't be about security when Windows 10 is the best and most secure OS ever. /s

    • Winner

      In reply to Win74ever:

      I don't think it's about making money from the store. Microsoft's MO for at least a couple of decades is to be intolerant of any new technology that they can't lead. They saw the iPod and had to have a Zune, but failed. They saw Google search and had to have Bing. They saw the iPhone and had to have their own touch OS, and failed. They saw the App Store and now they have to have an App Store. And they see their former Windows monopoly on computing devices eclipsed by the new smartphone worlds of Android and iOS. And they failed there. But they're trying to save Windows and make it more like a low maintenance OS that auto updates and has a curated store. But Windows is viewed as legacy and people are too used to doing it differently.

      Part of me hopes MS gets their just reward for being a follower rather than a leader, but part of me sees the pathetic irony of a former leader, still shocked and trying to regain their former leadership.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Winner:

        Is there any public info about the % of Macs configured to use only the Mac Store vs Macs able to install software from anywhere? I figure an even smaller % of Windows PCs would be configured to use only bundled and Windows Store software.

        • Winner

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          No, I don't think Apple has succeeded on the Mac with their store, either. But then they didn't release a MacOS that REQUIRED store-only software.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to Winner:

            My too cryptic point is that computing platforms with users who've amassed decades of experience using lots of different channels for acquiring software aren't going to accept a single channel unless that channel has most of what most of them would want. IOW, the Windows Store is way too inadequate for a majority of Windows 10 users.

            That said, there's nothing I can think of which would prevent MSFT itself from converting any & all desktop software titles with GPL or BSD licenses, building them from source and putting them in Centennial packages. That'd be hundreds of offerings, and a few dozen of them are already widely used. MSFT doesn't seem to have much interest building up the Windows Store's offerings itself. Why should anyone else?

  6. jimchamplin

    Re: being limited to Bing?

    I don't care. I refuse to use Google at all so why should I give a rat's ass if I can't set it as the default?

    Pissed off that I can't use Duck Duck Go as the default? Yep.

    • Jack Smith

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Bing market share has fallen below 3% for all platforms and global. It has become horrible to use in the US over the last 6 months. I suspect MS has stopped investing into it.

      MS just does not keep it current any longer and things that get updated in Google in minutes will take hours in some cases and days in other.

  7. davidl

    Why does Windows 10 S run Defender? I thought the idea was that all apps were already verified so you don't have to worry about malware and the resources eaten by monitoring files. iOS, Android, and Chrome OS don't monitor your files for malware as far as I know....why would Windows 10 S?

    • Dan

      In reply to davidl:

      As if software has no bugs and is perfectly secure :)

      Just because it doesn't run any Win32 apps by policy doesn't mean there aren't holes in the OS that can be exploited.

      • davidl

        In reply to Dan:

        So Windows 10 S is not as secure as iOS then?

        • JudaZuk

          In reply to davidl:

          Yes it is , it is probably exactly as secure as iOS, and that is why it is good to have Defender.

          (iOS by the way is a mobile phone/tablet OS, an OS for simple consumption devices, unlike Windows 10 S that is basically Windows 10 Pro locked down)

        • Dan

          In reply to davidl:

          Of course not. It is built upon decades and decades of legacy code that is riddled with bugs.

        • jimchamplin

          In reply to davidl:

          No. By its nature it can't be. iOS is actually cut down while this release of Windows 10S is just Windows 10 Pro with some policies enacted.

          I believe the idea is that as this moves forward, 10S and Pro will begin to diverge more and more.

  8. wright_is

    Have you tried it with an Azure login and running policies etc. on it?

    • Narg

      In reply to wright_is:

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't Azure logins require Pro? At least on the Enterprise level? I do know that Home doesn't support a lot policies that are used in Enterprise, so even if you could with Home or S, why bother?

  9. bbold

    I ran into this issue, too, with Photoshop Elements 15 (I spoke about it in these forums weeks ago.) I was shocked after I'd purchased it solely for use on Windows 10 S, only to find it wouldn't run! To their point, I did contact Microsoft chat support and they did process a return for the app. (Why won't it run? I don't get it.) I even made sure to review the app in the store with my install woes on 10 S, to warn others. What I use now on my SL and 10 S is the Windows Photos app, which is pretty much feature-less and basic, at best. I agree with you that 10 S is 'not ready yet,' my question is, will it ever be? It all comes down to the app ecosystem. New users are in for a rude awakening! The good news is that the Pro upgrade is free right now, but for users after Dec 31st, 2016, I worry that we may see a lot of SL's returned if their apps or drivers aren't available. (I never bought into the Google app ecosystem, so I consider myself lucky that I don't have to deal with those particular woes.) My SL works great, but the absence of good apps really starts to show when you can't just run to the internet and download something useful. They really need to allow an 'admin override' of these apps and allow you to approve apps on an individual basis.

    Why cripple your new users in such a way? I don't get it.

    This is all about creating a good user experience, is it not?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to bbold:

      There are already sufficient administrative tools. Windows Home provides Parental Controls which can be used to whitelist only approved EXEs. Windows Pro and volume purchasing SKUs can use group policies to do the same. Windows users just don't use those tools, so the demand for Windows 10 S is, er, unclear. Perhaps you should upgrade to Pro then learn how to use group policy to lock down your machine.

  10. Jack Smith

    Windows S was easily hacked remotely and should be avoided until MS gets it together and makes it secure. Edge at Pawned 2017 was basically hacked at will. Penetrated over and over again. Only browser unhackable in the time allotted was Chrome.

  11. john.boufford

    I would think that some top executives would have been using Windows 10S for a couple of months before it was released. It does not appear so.

  12. amrish.tandon

    Paul, how about doing an honest review? Instead of comparing Win 10S to Win 10 Pro, how about compare it to what it's actual competion is - The Chrome OS. Then it will be a real review. Until then it is just a rant of how the OS does not work for Paul.

    • anchovylover

      In reply to amrish.tandon:

      You may call it biased and a rant but others may call it an unbiased expert analysis. Is W10 S really competing with Chrome OS, maybe a little however for me it is clearly aimed at enterprise.

    • bbold

      In reply to amrish.tandon:

      Wow. You guys are harsh. I feel that Paul is giving a very honest review.  As an early Surface Laptop adopter myself, I can vouch for his review and say that it is 100% accurate. When you rely upon non-store Apps and drivers (and who doesn't?) you begin to run into these walled garden issues. The problem is, Apple and Google's walled garden is much more strong and wide reaching than Microsoft's walled garden, at this point.

      • amrish.tandon

        In reply to bbold: The point I am trying to make is that, when you get a device with WIN 10S, you know the limitations. MS has been pretty open about that. One also knows that the target market for WIN 10S is students/schools. So why try to make it do things that it is not supposed to do and complain about it?

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to amrish.tandon:

          . . . why try to make it do things that it is not supposed to do[?] . . .

          Because MSFT is selling Surface laptops most of which cost more than US$1,000 with Windows 10 S preinstalled. Those laptops are quite unlikely to be adopted by any but the snootiest private schools, so it's fair to surmise that MSFT sells Surface laptops so configured because MSFT believes (perhaps dementedly so) Windows 10 S can be used productively outside school environments.

  13. Tony Barrett

    As 10S is the 'future of windows' it's pretty obvious that MS want everyone to be 'all in' with Microsoft services. This is the start of MS forcing people to use an MS account, forcing people to use Edge, forcing people to use the Windows Store and in the end, forcing developers to start coding for UWP. It seems like they've given up on they're softly, softly approach of co-ercing people into using their services - now people won't have a choice, which, ultimately, is the point. Win10S is Microsoft removing 'choice' in the name of trying to make potential buyers believe it's safer and more streamlined, which is actually complete bull. Win10S is the same Windows underneath the shell, with even more limitations and restrictions thrown on top. Eventually Win10S will be 'free' to OEM's (MS have no other choice), and will probably be the only version available on ARM (yes, I know you can 'pay' for the Win10Pro upgrade, but MS needed to include some form of get out of jail card, at least initially).

    Win10S is definately the most restricted, controlled and limited version of Windows ever released - just the way MS want it.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to ghostrider:

      That is why it should be free download install and use. That would be a different approach from Google and Apple. But all MS is doing is applying the same goto market approach as others have done years ago while not understanding that the context today is different.

      Anyway time will tell.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Windows 10 S could be a major step in an experiment testing whether Windows PC users place more value in the OS or the 3rd party software the OS can run. Pity the experiment could poison MSFT's relationship with Windows PC users.

      I figure the value of the available mass of Win32 software is an order of magnitude more than MSFT's brand value for Windows. As long as Windows 10 Home, Pro, Enterprise and Education still run Win32 software, Windows 10 S will be a curiosity used only by a few out of choice and a few more given no choice at all.

    • Win74ever

      In reply to ghostrider:

      They can keep trying but Windows 10 S will be the next Windows RT. Very soon they'll be forced to release a true successor to Windows 7 or kill Windows entirely.

  14. hrlngrv

    The biggest question I have about Windows 10 S is adding printers. The last HP printer I bought for my home came with a CD with a rather involved installer for a rather involved Print-Fax-Scan UI which was definitely Win32. Would new printers for Windows 10 S have store apps for equivalent printer-etc UIs? Lots of printer drivers in the store? Or is there a back door for hardware drivers which is old-style Win32, so a possible malware vector?

  15. jrswarr

    I now understand why Microsoft has NOT sent you a review unit.

    You are not going to review 10S for what it is - but essentially what it isn't. If I was Microsoft - I wouldn't have sent you one either.

    Just sayin'

  16. Narg

    This long rant, I mean review, could have been summed up in one sentence: This is not an OS for professionals or high end users. There. Better?

  17. skane2600

    The problems with Windows 10S are fundamental to its core purpose and thus can't be improved over time. I'm not a fan of desktop Linux or Chromebooks but MS seems determined to piss away all the unique advantages that Windows has to offer thus making these alternatives look more and more attractive.

  18. longhorn

    Great article. So S stands for Suffering, right? It’s the Microsoft version of a useless Chromebook. What’s the point of these limited OSes? Chrome OS has Chrome but very limited offline capabilities and no native printing. Ridiculous. How much shit is consumers supposed to tolerate?

    The only reason Chrome OS and Windows 10 S exist is vendor lock-in. No choice. No freedom. Just suffering.

    We need to collectively fight this, because they will try to push this stupidity down our throats. Chrome OS has failed in the market place (despite a huge marketing effort and competitive hardware). However, Google is still pushing Chrome OS. I expect Microsoft to do the same and push Windows 10 S even if nobody wants it.

    To all readers: Please don’t support corporate lock-ins. Fight for freedom, always.

    • Waethorn

      In reply to longhorn:

      Native printing sucks. At least in Windows. Chrome OS now has support for CUPS-compatible drivers for printers, but Google Cloud Print on modern printers is far better. Cloud Print doesn't require special drivers. Most of the time, you just log into your network printer's web server admin interface and log into your Google Account. Lots of network printers work fine even without Cloud Print support too.

      • JudaZuk

        In reply to Waethorn:

        Native printing in Windows is actually great, you can basically print on any printer of any model, almost from any year and manufacturer.

        Cloud Print is limited to the point it is almost worthless , just like AirPrint ..

        "Cloud Print doesn't require special drivers" - no it require special printers that support Cloud print, that have a web server built in etc. and you need to login to a Google account to print a paper dumb is that , is it so Google can scan the paper first and make it "searchable"? :)

        Maybe "lots of printers" work fine even without Cloud Print support ... but how many are "lots" to you? I prefer Windows printer support that works with almost any printer made the past 30 - 40 years ..and you do not need Internet access to print either.

        If the printer is a n old parallel printer or serial printer, you might need a physical adaptor, but Windows will most likely be able to print to it as long as you have the correct connection in your computer

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to longhorn:

      How are you defining failed in the market place? Chrome OS hasn't caught on outside the US, but it's user base is still growing. That makes it rather different than, say, Windows phones.

      Chrome OS can be switched to developer mode, crouton installed, and then several minimal Linux distributions installed and run via chroot. Developer mode adds terminal support, and crouton has to be launched from a terminal, but there's nothing in Chrome OS which could launch a terminal in the background.

      • longhorn

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        It was first released to developers in the 2009-2010 time frame. It was launched to the general public a couple of years after that. That's 5-6 years ago. Chrome OS share might be between 1-1,5 % of the global desktop OS market.

        A product is launched by one of the biggest tech companies with massive marketing and full support from OEMs. After 5-6 years it has not reached 2 % market share. Wouldn't you call that a failure? It's almost Windows Phone numbers. I'd say it's a massive failure. Why do you think Google started to experiment with Android apps on Chrome OS? Because they realized that Chrome OS doesn't cut it.

        And then you realize what an awesome Linux distro Google would be able to create. A Linux distro backed by OEMs with full support for 90-95% of the tasks that normal people do. Windows would still have the edge with Win32 business applications, MS Office, the Adobe suite and gaming. At home "Office in the cloud" or LibreOffice will suffice for most people, though.

        Imagine if Chrome OS wasn't so god damn limited. Imagine you had local storage and multiple cloud sync providers. Imagine you had a real Linux distro backed by Google instead of a crippled cloud machine.

        Chrome OS is great on a technical level. But you need to be able to do more and not have to rely on the net all the time. For most people Chrome OS is not enough. It cannot replace Windows.

        I do realize that Chrome OS wasn't designed as a traditional OS. It wasn't meant to be an OS, but a portal to Google online services. Even taking that into consideration I think of Chrome OS as a market failure. It wouldn't surprise me if Google silently agrees.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to longhorn:

          In some respects, Windows 10 S provides considerable evidence Chrome OS succeeded.

          • bbold

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            10 S has only been out a couple of months, I would say that this is a very premature statement. I'm not a Google user at all, but I can still feel the crippled aspects of 10 S. I know my limits when I use my Surface Laptop, the question is.. are those limits the same as on Chromebooks? Somewhat yes, somewhat no. As more apps and alternatives are released for 10 S, those views may change.

      • anchovylover

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        StatCounter last month had Chrome OS at 3.4% U.S market share and only 0.8% world market share.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to anchovylover:

          StatCounter at the end of June is fascinating.

          First, for me it doesn't show Chrome OS at 3.4% in the USA at the end of June 2017. OTOH, it does a lot better in rich, English-speaking countries. The Oceania Chrome OS figure appears due to New Zealand, where Chrome OS had 5.19% usage share at the end of June 2017. The other fascinating this is that Asia is the only continent on which Windows usage share is still over 90%, and it's already well under 80% in those @#$%&*! Mac-using, rich, English-speaking countries.

  19. emanon2121

    I replaced Adobe Lightroom with Polarr Pro. I miss some of the advanced features in Lightroom but overall I am super impressed.

  20. redstar92

    Paul, your one store app is Photoshop Elements... SHeesh... Ok you need to get to know the store better then, its not nearly as bad as it used to be. Nextgen Reader, Grover Pro, MyTube, Libby, Netflix, Plex, Kodi, VLC, Microsoft Ultimate Word Games, Microsoft Sudoku, Groove/Spotify (is groove missing some stuff, yes, but its actually pretty darn good these days), Poki for Pocket, MSN News, F.lux, SoundCloud, Enpass/LastPass are all in the store and do a pretty great job. I know piling on MSFT for not having an amazing app store has been your MO lately but seriously try using some of the apps and I think you may be pleasantly surprised. Also Edge is fine now, especially on insider builds.

    As far as PWA, I agree with another poster you are harping on that way too much.

  21. cseafous

    I don't think I understand what Microsoft or Google are doing. You design an OS for web browsing, entertainment, and light work. Then you put it on high end hardware that could run a full desktop OS. Why? You are going to make people think they can do heavy lifting on these things when that is not their purpose. At least with Windows you can upgrade to Pro but still. Why?

    • Narg

      In reply to cseafous:

      I'm not sure what you mean here. Windows 10 S could very easily run very sophisticated software, it just has to be from the MS Store, that's all. Just because it shuns Win32 doesn't mean it can't do things. It's not intended for legacy. Guess what, an iPad can't do everything either. But, there's some darn powerful software on that otherwise underpowered device. Your comparison is flawed. There are quite a few very powerful games in the Store, if you need examples. One I'm addicted to right now is "Astroneer", which requires pretty beefy hardware to run. It will not run on integrated graphics at all. And it's from the Store and will run on Windows 10 S.

  22. rameshthanikodi

    There are some real issues with Edge. It can freeze up and crash under heavy load. The UI animations could be tightened up a bit more. It doesn't remember window sizes. The context menu could do with more power user features.

    But i'm really really tired hearing about how Edge can't run webapps in a window like Chrome. In all my years of seeing people use Chrome, I have never seen anyone use that feature. I bet most people don't even know it exists. Hell, i'd bet more people know about Edge than Chrome's PWAs. That's how irrelevant I think this point is. This Chrome feature isn't even found in other browsers like Firefox or Safari, and a lot of people live with the so-called "compromise". Maybe it's a compromise for you, Paul, because you rely on this Chrome-exclusive feature so much. But I think I speak for most people when I say that most are completely content with having a web app open in a tab. I don't think having a web page open in a tab is a "compromise" over having it in a "real window". That's just a mind trick. The both are functionally the same. You lose zero function. The former just happens to be a browser tab. Maybe just pin a tab with Twitter Lite in it, or maybe try the official Twitter app from the store.

    In any case, your use of a Chrome-exclusive feature doesn't mean Edge should be disqualified from being called a "real browser". The open web is as such. BTW, I use Chrome full-time too, but I never use Chrome's PWAs.

    • Jack Smith

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      The biggest issue with Edge is the lack of security. AT pawned 2017 it was basically hacked at will. Penetrated over and over again. Only browser unhackable in the time allotted was Chrome.

      Windows S is just as bad and was completely hacked, remotely, in less than 3 hours on the first try.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Just because you and the people whose computers you can see don't use a feature doesn't mean that feature isn't used by a lot of other people. I've used the feature since it was called site-specific browsing. [FWLIW, it was a Firefox feature for a while, but no longer.] I figure Chrome uses it more for Chrome OS, but it's available in Chrome no matter the OS.

      Picky: you lose some functionality if you have multiple windows windows open and none maximized. In that case, browser controls use up window area which could otherwise be used to display more of the site/app.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      What you say is a good point, but with the creation of 10 S, the argument probably should be made that Edge needs this Web App feature. It would help make up for the lack of Store apps. 10 S is in many ways MS's answer to Chromebook, and MS can't afford to leave any ChromeOS feature unanswered.

      • Jeff Jones

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        If Windows 10 S is Microsoft's answer to Chromebooks then their main focus should be on the management side of things. That is the biggest reason why schools are adopting Chromebooks so fast.

        Updates on a Chromebook happen in the background and are just ready to go next time the Chromebook boots. From the G-Suite website a school can manage nearly everything that the user can do. If the Chromebook hardware breaks just give them a new one and all bookmarks, apps, and browser plugins are automatically reinstalled.

        I don't know if Microsoft has that level of convenience yet without needing a Windows Server.

      • LemonJoose

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        Personally, in Windows 10 S I don't like the idea of a web app that runs in a way that makes it difficult to differentiate from a native app.  Since Windows 10 S is locked down, the native apps you'll be running come from the Store and have thus gone through a screening process.  Web apps haven't however, and so it's probably wise to be more wary of them.  Having the browser chrome there makes it easy to know when you're using a web app.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to LemonJoose:

          Look through the Store at the apps with 2 or fewer stars. Ponder the lack of rigor in the screening process. All the screening process does is weed out malware and obscenity. Polite crapware is allowed into the Store.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad: I think the point was that this "chromeless' app window is exclusive to Chrome. No other browser does it, and likely relatively few people know about it and use it. I can already open multiple windows in Edge and have these 'apps' in their own separate instances. Is it critical that they look like an app?
        The whole article is about how awful Win 10 S is and how Paul will have to suffer to show that his workflow is hampered by it, chock full of preconceived issues. It's like a kid sitting down at dinner knowing he isn't going to like what is served.
        I have no delusion that Win 10 S is for everyone. Certainly not for those who have based their life/business around Windows and Windows applications for 20+ years. There are tons of applications out there. That's one of the selling points of Windows in the first place. There is a significant portion of the user base that doesn't use (need) any more than Windows 10 S provides though. This is much like iOS and iPads. When first released, it didn't have all the apps that Windows or MacOS had, still doesn't, but many find they can do the majority of what they need to do on a daily basis on an iPad. I don't see this as much different. For most of my time, I can use a Win 10 S device, and doing so will contribute to the install base, encouraging development of more and better 'modern' apps that it supports. Paul says that the goals of UWP and the deprecation of Win32 is laudable. Why then deride this effort to move in that direction. Give it a fair chance. That doesn't start with, I will suffer for you.
        P.S. If you install Win 10 S, are you able to see/install the Office 2016 store apps at that point? They aren't available to regular Win 10 users yet.

        • Daekar

          In reply to SvenJ:

          Well said. Most of Paul's complaints seem to stem from lack of ingenuity and ability to improvise than anything. My perspective, as someone who uses 3 different browsers, not including mobile, and who has to work within the lines delineated by IT, is that he's extraordinarily set in very picky ways that don't matter at all for getting the job done.

  23. Darmok N Jalad

    I remember the app install issues I would have on Windows 8 and RT. Something would go wrong behind the scenes, and none of MS troubleshooting tips and programs would fix it. Short of reinstalling the OS, the most successful solution I found was to uninstall an existing Store app. It didn't matter which one. It happened often enough that I really lost confidence in the reliability of MS's AppStore model. It sure didn't make it easy to pay good money for an app.

  24. pmeinl

    How about using Win10 Pro's settings "Allow apps from the store only" or "Warn me before installing apps from outside the store" instead of Win10 S. Wouldn't' this give one the security of Win10 S plus those Win32 apps one needs?

    See How to Allow Only Apps From the Store on Windows 10 (and Whitelist Desktop Apps)

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to pmeinl:

      That only prevents installing software not from the Windows Store, that it, using formal installers writing to the registry and installing under Program Files by default. It doesn't prevent running non-Store software already installed or running portable software, that is, software which doesn't need a formal installer. Windows 10 S will only run MSFT-signed Win32 software, like Notepad, or software installed from the Windows Store. Much more restrictive.

      • pmeinl

        In reply to hrlngrv:
        That is what I first thought too. But according to the article under the link in my post:
        "...While the wording here refers to “installing applications”, this also works for self-contained .exe files like portable apps. When you download a new .exe file, Windows will prevent you from opening it. If you tell Windows to run all software, you can then launch the .exe file. Tell Windows to block apps from outside the Store afterwards and you’ll still be able to run that .exe file and any other apps you’ve already run..."

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to pmeinl:

          This is a change in a recent build. I tried this a month or so ago when this first appeared, and it didn't prevent running new portable software. It does prevent it now.

  25. Waethorn

    Why are the Office Win32 apps still not available for Windows 10 proper? Seems like Windows 10 S is just another beta test platform, and now they're testing Centennial apps on it.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I suspect a full version of Office in the Store isn't possible to achieve given the restrictions on Centennial apps. MS Office "light" is already available online if full compatibility is not required.

      It's funny how there were all these stories in June with titles like "Full Office comes to the Windows Store" and then the article would explain that it didn't have all the capabilities of desktop Office which contradicts the title of the article. What part of "full" don't they understand?

      • Waethorn

        In reply to skane2600:

        That's not what I asked. Office 2016 apps are available for Windows 10 S. What's the holdup for standard Windows 10? I suspect they consider the low marketshare of Windows 10 S to be a testing ground, and that's just another sh*t move by the company.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Waethorn:

          Cynicism and Occam's Razor suggest that Centennial-packaged desktop Office isn't available to those running other Windows 10 SKUs because MSFT wants to limit what would almost certainly be adverse comparisons of Store-packaged to unpackaged.

          I use Excel more than all the other Office programs put together, and I use a few COM add-ins, so I already know the Centennial-packaged versions won't work for me.

          You'd think MSFT might consider bestirring itself to provide examples of successors to COM add-ins. In theory they already exist. In practice, no one bothers with 'em.

          Tangent: MSFT develops and make available MSFT R Open, it's own variant of GNU R. Why isn't there a Centennial-packaged version available in the Windows Store? If we can believe MSFT, it shouldn't be that hard to package it.

  26. Jeff Jones

    Is it possible to have remote desktop access on Windows 10 S using the more popular programs like TeamViewer, Logmein, or even Chrome Remote Desktop? Or are those types of programs impossible to create in the UWP framework because of needing lower level, pre-login, control of the system?

    If third party isn't possible, does Microsoft have an alternative built in that doesn't require access to the users router to get it to work?

    • Dan1986ist

      In reply to DataMeister:

      By Remote Desktop Access do you mean connecting from Windows 10 S to another computer or connecting to Windows 10 S from another computer? If the former, Teamviewer does have an UWP app in the store which should work. Not sure about the latter though.

  27. adamcorbally

    If your going into this with the idea it's going to be a frustrating experience maybe it's not the right time to explore windows 10 s. we all know it's not for pro users like many of the readers on this site and we all know it's essentially a beta product. You often say that chrome books and iPads are good enough for normal people well guess what windows 10 s is aimed at the same market - I hope you bear that in mind in your reviews.

    • bbold

      In reply to adamcorbally:

      I can honestly say that I did not go into using 10 S with a defeatist attitude (as you suggested Paul did) and by the end of the experience, today, I can say that yes, he is accurate and yes, 10 S is incomplete, but I enjoy using 10 S a little better, probably, than most (my computing needs are minimal.) When you can't even run EVERY Windows Store app (Photoshop elements 15, etc) and when you can't even install particular non-MS device drivers or software, and when your browser is a little crippled, it just kind of makes you feel defeated after using it. I'm a little more positive and happy using 10 S than Paul, but that's just my disposition, and I'm not a huge gamer or Google fan.

      I would say, until you actually USE 10 S yourself, I wouldn't be so fast to judge.

  28. LemonJoose

    Why don't you try giving a shot to the Bing search experience and results you get from using address bar search in Edge, rather than always first opening up a tab when you need to do a search?  Your updated take on Bing vs. Google search would be relevant in the context of evaluating Windows 10 S.  Personally, I use Bing as my default, since I've found it's results to be about as good as Google's, and I like Bing's UI and presentation better than Google's, especially for picture and video searches.

    Also, I resisted for a while, but now after some time using my Microsoft account to login to all my PCs and my W10M phone, I would never go back to using a separate local account on each PC.  It makes everything so much easier, and I feel like an idiot for not doing it sooner.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to LemonJoose:

      Try - I use this as my default and it does the job. It's major benefit is not compiling any history on my activities based around search. Am I missing out on anything? Not that I can see I always find what I need.

    • eq07

      In reply to LemonJoose:

      Bing has TERRIBLE search results compared to Google. And I live in the US. I feel like Bing often has me directed to "sponsored" search results as opposed to real results.

      Bing's UI is nice, but that's about it for me.

      • Asgard

        In reply to eq07:

        Not sure about how you _feel_, but year after year in blind tests people simply cannot tell which one is Bing and which one is Google in USA. You have plenty around the net. Some regions have real issues with Bing though when doing non-english searches as stated here.

      • jbinaz

        In reply to eq07:

        This may depend on the user and how they search. I use Bing all the time and rarely have to go to Google. And when I do, I don't usually find anything with it that Bing didn't.

        Of course, that's just my experience and probably due to how I search. If they can't get it right for most people, they'll never make a dent.

    • OkCalis

      In reply to LemonJoose:

      Bing's UI indeed seems better than Google's, but when it comes to search results, Bing is terrible (at least in my region). That's why I had to switch back to Google as my default search engine.

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to OkCalis:

        Yeah, I think it also depends on how you search. I can use Bing, but my wife doesn't like it. She gets the results she's looking for with Google while Bing often struggles. She tends to do long (sentence) searches more.

  29. JCFan1979

    Microsoft likewise doesn’t allow you to even change the default search engine in the Edge browser.

    Yes is does. It's quite easy to change. Browse to Google's homepage and then go to Settings - Advanced - Change Search Engine. The trick is having the search engine you want open in Edge's tabs. After that you can search Google through Edge no problem.