Living with Windows 10 S: It’s Just Not Ready (Yet)

Posted on August 15, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 117 Comments

Living with Windows 10 S: It's Just Not Ready (Yet)

Contrary to Microsoft marketing, the Surface Laptop was designed for Windows 10 Pro, not Windows 10 S.

For the past two weeks, I’ve made an effort to use Windows 10 S every single day. The conclusion is inescapable: This new Windows 10 product edition is half-baked. It’s not ready for me. It’s not ready for you. And it’s not ready for anyone.

I was intending to write something this week to wrap up the series, and I was sort of thinking of calling it “And It Just Doesn’t Work.” (Oh, right, [I used that one already](and it just doesn’t work).) But after Brad posted his opinion yesterday in With the Windows Store Maturing, Windows 10 S is Almost Ready For Me (Premium), I figured I could position this as a counterpoint, of sorts.

Because Brad is wrong.

Yes, that title includes two important qualifiers: “almost” and “for me [Brad].” But I only need to address the first to make my point. When you say that something is “almost ready” what you’re really saying is that it is “not ready.” Because solutions can’t almost meet your needs to work. They have to actually meet your needs. So, in a way, I agree with Brad. Windows 10 S is almost ready.

The biggest stumbling block is the apps situation, which I’ve written about ad naseum. Both to describe the situation and to offer up my ideas about a compromise that would fix the problem for everyone. (Including Microsoft.)

While the problem with the lack of high-quality apps for Windows 10 S is simply understood by anyone, it will resonate most strongly with former Windows phone users. We struggled for years to justify our devotion to a system that we felt was more innovative, usable, and user-centric than the far more popular mobile platforms like Android and iOS. But what killed it for all of us, in the end, was the lack of apps.

There’s no such thing as a single list of gotta-have-it apps because our needs are as different as we are from each other. But the way this works is that even a single missing key app can torpedo a platform for an individual. And with Windows 10 S, as with Windows phone before it, it isn’t a single app that is ruining the experience. It’s an entire apps platform, which we’ll call Win32 for short. This thing is just a non-starter.

The apps situation can and will improve over time. But even if a couple of high-profile apps do appear—the Adobe Premier Elements app that both Brad and I would like to see in the Store, for example—that still doesn’t fix the central issue for most: You’ll always run into some app you want to run but can’t. And many hardware devices require Win32 desktop access for drivers and utilities. It’s the little things that kill this system from inside.

I can’t solve the driver problems beyond Microsoft perhaps offering a certification program for existing drivers or opening up a Store-based driver utility model. But I have a lot of thoughts about apps. And in addition to my previous advice to Microsoft about a compromise on Win32 apps, I have come to a conclusion that won’t please some.

And it’s this: The web apps platform—which will evolve into what I’ll just call Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) over time—is more sophisticated than the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) that Microsoft has created for Windows 10. And for PC and PC-like platforms, web apps are the way forward. Not UWP mobile apps. UWP is its own dead-end.

Windows 10 S will eventually support PWAs in a sophisticated manner, according to Microsoft. To me, that means they will be distributed through the Store and they will run in non-browser window shells so that they look and work like native apps. But that day is not today, and it is not any day in the next six months or more. It’s not clear when Microsoft will add this capability to Windows 10 (not just S, but all versions). And whether they will deliver on the promises when they do.

So the disheartening side-effect of all this is that a PC-like platform that runs web apps is more sophisticated and desirable than Windows 10 S. And that platform exists: It’s called Chrome OS. Worse, Google is busy melding the most popular native apps platform all time, Android, to Chrome OS, which will further enhance this system for both users and developers.

Now, I’ve used Chrome OS. A lot. And there is a conversation to be had here about the many limitations of this system, too. But know this: A lot of the assumptions about Chrome OS—that it requires online use, etc.—aren’t just out-of-date, they’re wrong. And Chrome OS is getting better more quickly than Windows 10 S is, for sure. This needs to be tested.

Because I’m in the middle of a move to Pennsylvania, my normal office full of equipment is in some weird transition, too, and I don’t have access to my Chromebooks as I write this. But I’ll be settled soon, and in keeping with the testing I have been doing all summer with the iPad Pro and iOS 11, I’ll be looking to re-evaluation Chrome OS (with Android app support) soon. And I really do feel like this system will be a better solution for most people than Windows 10 S. But we’ll see. That’s just where my head is now.

(I continually reevaluate everything. Refer to Edge of 17(03): Microsoft’s Web Browser is Still Lacking and Edge of 17(09): Microsoft’s Browser Edges Forward for obvious examples. If Edge did work for me, I’d use it.)

But again, I have a solution for Microsoft that would put Windows 10 S over the top. In fact, this solution would erase the key benefit of Chrome OS and Chromebooks immediately because it would let Windows 10 S users run Chrome, the browser everyone really wants to use. But until or unless that happens, Microsoft is forcing Windows 10 S users to make a choice. An ugly choice.

And who on earth would ever choose a version of Windows that cannot run Windows applications? That cannot run the most popular Windows applications—Chrome, iTunes, Photoshop, whatever—that have ever been made? The trade-off—Window 10 S allegedly offers better security, reliability, and performance, though that is all just a theory at this point—is just too great.

Only Microsoft, a company bursting at the seams with smart people and smart ideas—could be this dumb. And until they fix this obvious problem, Windows 10 S will always be an also-ran at best and pointless at worse. And just as Edge is most often used on other versions of Windows 10 to install Chrome, Windows 10 S will be used only to upgrade (for free, for now) to Windows 10 Pro. To a version of Windows that, get this, can actually run Windows apps.

Windows 10 S is not ready for primetime. And until it is, I cannot recommend it to anyone. Not to you, and not to any of our non-technical friends or family members. You just don’t do that to people you love.

But I’ll keep testing, of course.


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Comments (124)

124 responses to “Living with Windows 10 S: It’s Just Not Ready (Yet)”

  1. leops1984

    "Only Microsoft, a company bursting at the seams with smart people and smart ideas—could be this dumb."


    • bbold

      In reply to leops1984:

      You can have some great people with super smart ideas, but if their ideas aren't fully realized or encouraged in a healthy, positive way, and further cultivated and integrated somehow into what they're doing, those smart people don't matter much. To me, this means bad management and wasted resources. Sh*t travels downhill.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to leops1984:

      Think of all the smart people in the US military and DoD in the 1960s and 1970s, then consider Vietnam. If lots of smart people accept false assumptions, the results are predictable.

      In the case of Windows 10 S, the false assumption would be that most Windows users would prefer the Windows Store to old Win32 software.

    • VonBrick

      In reply to leops1984:

      But so true. Microsoft lost me. What first appeared as a careful, measured delay to respond to a changing market now appears like a sophomoric (or moronic), half-assed attempt to appease anyone who has yet to jump fully in to the Apple or Google ecosystem.

  2. Waethorn

    Quick question:

    Does the in-app purchase policy of Microsoft taking 30% of the revenues also fit with Centennial apps?

    If so, how does Microsoft track that so that developers are in compliance?

    This is the discussion that will complicate the issues of having Chrome or iTunes in the Windows Store.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Both of those programs are free, so there would be no 30% cut going to MS. Unless you're talking about purchases made inside the program, which is possible with iTunes. I highly doubt that is the case though, or I suspect Apple would not be bringing iTunes over at all.

      Chrome can't be any more than a shell over Edge, as that's the browser policy for 10 S. It's likely totally possible for Google to do it, as they must do so with iOS, but they would need to see the benefit. I'm sure their hoping Chromebooks would be people's choice instead of 10S.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Waethorn:

      In-app purchases are a feature for UWP apps which developers can add. As I understand it, those would be processed through the Windows Store. Presumably packaged desktop software couldn't use this unless it were rebuilt as a Store-specific version.

      I'm curios about how this'd work for GNU R or MSFT's own R Open. Would all R add-on packages need to come from the Store too? If not, then I figure that'd mean packaged desktop software could get around MSFT tracking in-app purchases.

      I figure very few ISVs are interested in letting MSFT have 30% of all of their sales. Thus the state of the Windows Store for high-end PC software.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        So it's for UWP apps published on the Store (as opposed to side-loaded), but not for Centennial apps published on the Store.

        So if developers don't want to give up that 30% they can just make it a Win32 app as freeware with the option to upgrade to a full version, and Microsoft will still publish it on the Store without taking any money? I just figured out the way to get free app advertising and distribution! You're welcome, developers. This is the reason why the Windows Store won't succeed.

  3. NoFlames

    I know many people that only use a browser, email and office. Windows 10S fits that model perfectly without all of the security concerns of full windows. I think Paul is ignoring that there are many non-technical users that a computer is just an interface to the web and their email. I'm a technical user, and WIndows RT was good enough for my casual computing needs, windows 10S is even more capable than that.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to NoFlames:

      Re Office, if people use 3rd party COM add-ins, they won't be able to use them under Windows 10 S.

      Enterprises have all the tools they need to lock down PCs. They've had them since at least Vista. Few do for some reason. If the reason is ignorance, MSFT has some work to do. If something else, maybe Windows 10 S wouldn't be a panacea.

      • NoFlames

        In reply to hrlngrv: I think you missed the point. Non technical users (not Enterprise users) don't need COM add-ins. I'm technical, and I've never needed them for my personal office application needs.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to NoFlames:

          Tangent: do you use Excel and R for large stochastic simulations? I'll admit I've never used add-ins with anything other than Excel and Access. There may be some sophisticated ones for Word which lawyers use, but I have no first-hand experience. OTOH, some Excel users make daily use of some add-ins.

          OK, home users. Granted negligible use of add-ins.

          If Office and a browser are all most people need, why did Windows RT fail? Widespread consumer ignorance? If so, has that changed? Can it change?

          • NoFlames

            In reply to hrlngrv: RT Failed for many reasons, but mostly price, consumer confusion and lock in with limited apps. Email sucked, music app sucked, the things people cared about kind of sucked on it when it was first released. Also there was no way out of the system. With 10S, you can still recommend it knowing if the person gets in a bind and can't run their favorite application, there's a path forward without buying a new machine.
    • Jack Smith

      In reply to NoFlames:

      "without all of the security concerns of full windows. "

      This is NOT true. Windows S is very, very insecure. It was easily hacked. It is the same with Edge.

      Edge was basically hacked at will at Pawned 2017. Penetrated over and over again.

      "Microsoft's Edge Was Most Hacked Browser At Pwn2Own 2017, While Chrome Remained Unhackable"

      017, While Chrome Remained Unhacka

    • PeteB

      In reply to NoFlames:

      Unfortunately 10 S has not demonstrated it's any more "secure" just because MS reghacked the desktop to be hidden from Windows 10 Pro and gave it a new product name.

      That's literally all this marketing rebadge is - all the same old decades of spaghetti windows code.

  4. Jhambi

    If Microsoft is serious about taking on Chromebooks, they need to present the value proposition with 10S. And its not allowing Chrome to run. They need to include the Office UWP apps. Not feature rich by any means, but serviceable for most. I would choose 10S with UWP office over a Chromebook. Heck they already give it away on 10.1 inch screens. Its a no brainer.

  5. idgilbert

    Managing my e-mail, photos and music these days is all done in the cloud. I came to a realization a couple of years ago that I spent most of my time using the Chrome browser to access all of the services that were important to me. The occasions I used Windows specifically were to update and maintain the OS and not much more. It was time to make a change when I needed to buy new hardware. I am reading this article now on a Chromebook. Granted, I was never a heavy user of office apps or video and photo editing software but my needs are met by this machine 99% of the time. Integration with mobile is where Microsoft could have been dominant but they fumbled and failed with Windows Phone to capitalize on their dominant market share position in the desktop. If Microsoft Edge was developed for Android OS perhaps I would think differently about Windows 10S. In the meantime, the integrated functionality of the Chrome OS coupled with my Android phone is too compelling to give up.

    Enterprise computing may be different but for the consumer market, Microsoft is slipping fast and maybe they're OK with that.

  6. Jules Wombat

    Yet another contrary self centered opinion piece.

    Windows 10 S is probably sufficient for the majority of users, but simply not for so called 'power users' like Paul. "most popular Windows applications—Chrome, iTunes, Photoshop, whatever—that have ever been made?"  Seriously, does Paul really believe the world depend only upon these Applications ? I don't use any of these.

  7. Bats

    I have to refute, one little comment made by Paul.

    Microsoft does not have any SMART PEOPLE in it's company. I don't know why Paul keeps saying this. Maybe he's just saying this because he has friends over there, but the fact of the matter is...they're not smart at all. These people are no different or no smarter than the people at Google or even Apple.

    Microsoft has never really been an innovative company. I think that's because they lack the internal brain power to create something cool. Even the Surface line of computers has never really been innovative. With the exception of the click in keyboard and magnetic pen, everything about the Surface line has been nothing more than the evolutionary "next step" in computing technology. I won't even count the "Dial" because to me, it's a "niche" accessory.

    Also, i don't understand what all this ballyhoo about Windows 10 S is all about. Chrome OS (or Chromebooks) don't run Photoshop or iTunes you hear or read any Google blogger complaining about it? The answer is NO. Yet, people are adopting Chrome OS into their lives because they want or choose to. Here, Paul REFUSES to change his workflow towards the Microsoft way of doing things, which is the way Paul wants to do it, except...he just wants it done his way.

    One more thing about Windows Phone. Windows Phone didn't fail because of the lack of apps. It failed because Windows did not offer a viable ecosystem that was on par to Google's. Windows Phone did have the apps...oh yes it did. What it didn't have was GOOGLE. No chrome, no Gmail, no Maps, no Photos, no Drive, etc... No Google, no users....buh-bye.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to Bats:

      As to your third paragraph, the P in PC stood for Personal. So expecting something to be personalized is not extraordinary. That used to be one of the benefits of Windows over Apple. If you had Windows you worked the way you wanted. If you had Apple you worked the way they wanted.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Greg Green:

        Picky: Personal was in comparison to minicomputers and mainframes. Personal in PC meant the machine was for just one person (at a time, for those who remember the days before a PC on every desk). Home PCs, which took off in the 1990s, were personalized. Work PCs weren't if IT had any say.

  8. glenn8878

    Windows 10S lacks enough of the necessary apps to make it a Windows platform. It should be Windows complete, meaning all Microsoft apps should already be available or pre-installed, but we end up with an experimental kit, no different than how they treated Kinect for PCs. Only the few sophisticated users with extra dollars to spare will know what to do with it.

    10S should just be a browser laptop like Chrome, but it fails because everyone hates Edge. With Groove and Photos, it should be feature complete. Then it should be sold for $500, not the outrageous Surface Laptop prices.

  9. Win74ever

    Windows 10 and Windows 10 S will never be ready. Stop trying to make UWP happen, it won't happen. Release the true Windows 7 successor. Just "Windows". Scrap the UWP platform, release a Store with Win32 apps. Revamp Windows Aero to be fresh in 2017. Give people control over Windows Update again. Stop with the whole mess of multiple Windows versions. Make it easy to fully block telemetry.

  10. John Scott

    Microsoft needs to do better with apps before Windows 10S can even be considered a option for most Windows users. Your going to have people who could possible live within the constrictions of a Microsoft app store today. But eventually you will face something that must run outside that walled garden. Maybe 10S should have been placed on a holding pattern until the app store gets more mature? Does anyone really want a Windows Chromebook? Not me.

  11. Jack Smith

    You did not really address the current security issues with Windows S. It was hacked within minutes on the first try and then completely taken over in just 3 hours. It was suppose to address the security issues and failed miserably.

    Then we have Edge basically hacked at will at Pawned 2017. Penetrated over and over again.

    • John Scott

      In reply to Jack_Smith:

      Any Windows is a higher security risk. Point is why limit yourself and not benefit a lot by working within Microsoft app store? I gave up long time ago believing Windows is going to be some utopia security perfection as I would with any OS that dominates. Numbers attract good and bad.

  12. Nischi

    Only slightly related, but I find it weird that I never hear you, Brad or Mary Joe for that matter question the security of 10 S.

    The security is one of the reasons you keep mentioning as to why one would choose 10 S. But is it really more secure?

    This is an old story by now, but it shows that it's not anything magical going on with 10 S that makes it go past all the old sins and security flaws in Windows.

    I know it sounds like it might be secure, but I really have my doubts especially since we know the code and binaries to run Win32 already exist in 10 S but it's just laying dormant until someone puts in the magical key.

    And could making exceptions for this (I.e. Chrome as you mention) make it even more open to attacks?

    Just some thoughts

  13. ponsaelius

    I think you are correct. If people want to run web apps then the best web environment is Chrome. if they have no need of Windows apps then ChromeOS is great idea.

    Microsoft are heading down a bizarre development tunnel. They are encouraging web apps in the PC Store where PC users want fully featured apps to get things done. Meanwhile the mobile store with Windowsphone could have gotten over the "no apps" issue by actively putting PWA in the mobile store.

    Like many Microsoft consumer side issues it seems wrong headed.

  14. Daniel D

    Really Windows 10 S is Microsoft's take on a very limited OS (ChromeBook) or if you are feeling particularly cruel, the latest interaction of WinRT.

    More to the point, its taken a lot of resources, time and effort, but at best never answered the core question for its existence. Why?

    Windows phone put up a better business argument for its existence and MS killed that stone dead.

    It seems MS these days is just going around and around in a big circle, tweaking this and adding that to Win 10, because its just easier in the MS coporate world, then looking at what they aren't doing in the rest of the company or the industry.

    • Jack Smith

      In reply to Daniel_D:

      Chromebooks very limited? They run Android apps which is tons and tons more things than Windows.

      Flying home on a United flight and their entertainment system only support Android and iOS. My kids with Chromebooks are watching TV and the Windows and Macs could NOT.

      Wife loves Snap and uses it all the time on her Samsung Plus 2 in 1 and not possible on a Windows box.

      But the biggest problem is the very, very poor security with Windows S. Why it should be avoided. Same with Edge was hacked at will at Pawned 2017. It was penetrated over and over again. Only browser unhacked in time alloted was Chrome.

      • skane2600

        In reply to Jack_Smith:

        A minority of current Chromebooks run Android apps. And while there are some perfectly adequate Android apps most of them aren't designed for a laptop environment and very few are practical replacements for traditional Windows or Mac apps.

        I don't understand your comment about watching TV on a Chromebook but not on Windows or Macs. Which Chromebooks have a built-in TV tuner? Or perhaps you meant streaming video in which case ios devices, Android devices, Windows devices and Macs can also.

  15. rlcronin

    On a personal level, I just don't "get" Windows 10 S. MS spent the last 20+ years building a hugely successful platform that the entire world bought into with the result that there are countless thousands of hardware and software products and solutions available that run atop it that hundreds of millions of businesses and individuals have invested in and now they want everyone to just dump that for a version of Windows that doesn't run ANY of that? In my view, that's just not going to happen.

    The only way I see this making any sense at all is if the plan is to start over and build a brand new platform, but even if they can get hardware and software developers to buy into it, that's going to take years to gain any serious momentum (all the while alternative platforms continue to evolve, further eroding Windows' market share).

    If that's the plan I wish them luck. I figure they're already at least 5 years behind. Good on you if you want to help jumpstart things enough that you're willing to subject yourself to the limitations of 10S. Personally, I'm not.

    • bbold

      In reply to rlcronin:

      Microsoft even states that Windows 10 S isn't for everyone, it's primarily for Education markets, this will primarily be on locked down systems or on cheaper sub $300 notebooks, which it sounds like you won't be buying into anyways. There's always Windows 10 Pro, and you can pretty much do whatever you want on that. Let's not forget there are other options out there for those that have more than basic needs. The reason that Microsoft is '5 years behind' is partially due to the antitrust lawsuits that stalled innovation and keeping that dominance on the market. Meanwhile, Apple and Android gobbled up those needy consumers. Where's the anti-trust lawsuits for them?

      • rlcronin

        In reply to bbold:

        I'm not a big fan of anti-trust lawsuits as a means to hobble competitors with more popular products and the fact that there are several competing platforms (who certainly aren't colluding with one another) seems healthy to me. Anyway, I do use Windows 10 Pro. I'm just confused by those who seem to be willing to find ways to live with WIndows 10s. To me, its a non-starter from the get-go.

      • mattbg

        In reply to bbold:

        It's strange, though, that they would load this onto the generic Surface Notebook product as if they expect anyone who wants to Surface Notebook to get on with it. Why not create an Education-specific SKU of the Notebook that is pre-loaded with Windows 10 S?

        I do understand why this product would be appealing to some - the fleet management and support of an organization's PCs is a headache even for people that have the budgets and expertise to do it well.

        As Paul has mentioned, acknowledging that you can upgrade to Pro, it does sound like a Surface RT type of deal where you're sold something that is presented as Windows (most people will not notice that it's "10 S" rather than just "10") and will not be able to do the things most people associate with Windows.

  16. SvenJ

    "It’s not ready for me. It’s not ready for you. And it’s not ready for anyone." Does this need another one of those, 'well not literally anyone,' caveats you use frequently on WW? There are apps that are missing, and the problem is apparently that it doesn't support all of Win32. Well, neither does MacOS, iOS, Linux, ChromeOS, Android...Guess none of those are ready for anyone either.

    I would concede there are apps that would make S a non-starter for me, as my primary machine. It would be fine for the secondary machine that I sit on the couch with, carry to Scout meetings, go on vacation with (I don't work on my vacations). I wouldn't want a 13" traditional laptop (Surface laptop) for that, but something sized more like an iPad, or Surface 3. Maybe something 8".

    There are lots of folks out there that don't do any more than e-Mail and Facebook, and do those with a web browser. Add a little Word and Excel, Acrobat reader and some photo stuff. Maybe some basic games and they are good. Not everyone uses their personal computer (PC) as a business tool. If you can get away from 'I have to do this, and I have to do it this way with this product,' options open up.

    • skane2600

      In reply to SvenJ:

      A MacOS, iOS, Linux, ChromeOS, or Android OS that doesn't run Windows apps is perfectly logical. A Windows OS that doesn't run Windows apps isn't.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to SvenJ:

      . . . Add a little Word and Excel . . .

      How little? Web apps or mobile apps? If Word and Excel web apps are sufficient, Chromebooks would be sufficient. If one needs slightly more, the mobile apps mean you'd need Windows, so 10 S.

      The issue here is that Windows 10 S vs Chrome OS would come down to the browser, and most people would probably prefer Chrome. People who need to do a little bit more probably need full Windows, so they could again have Chrome along with lots of desktop Windows software. The gap in which Windows 10 S would be better than Chrome OS and full Windows is currently exceedingly narrow.

      • Jack Smith

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        It is not only the fact Chrome is much better and secure. But it is also that you can run Android on ChromeOS and you can NOT on Windows.

        My wife able to use Snap on her 2 in 1 Chromebooks is huge. Flying United and able to use their entertainment system with a Chromebook but not on a Windows box is huge.

        The future is more and more Android and iOS and it is NOT Windows. The developers left.

  17. hrlngrv

    Chromebooks aren't PCs. They're close, but not all the way there. Following this article's almost == not.

    Maybe we need to accept that Windows 10 S machines also aren't PCs. They're something else, not necessarily less, but definitely different. It'd be refreshing if MSFT would also acknowledge this, but I figure that ain't gonna happen.

    • Jack Smith

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      How in the world are you defining a PC? More and more there are things we can do on our Chromebooks that we can NOT do on a Windows box.

      Want to use Snap you have to use a Chromebook as no support on Windows. Flying home on United and want to use their entertainment system you need a Chromebook. Want native support Nest or Google Home or Google WiFi then you need a Chromebook.

      This is going to happen a lot more going forward. Chromebooks having Android support changes everything.

      Windows developers are gone and that it that. They first went to the web, then iOS and now Android. They are NOT coming back.

      More and more "native" on Windows is actually Chromium and/or V8. ReactJS, Atom, Electron, Slack and so many other things.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Jack_Smith:

        In developer mode, Chromebooks/boxes are PCs. Not in developer mode, they're not.

        For me the main distinction between PC and computing appliance is the level of customization which could be achieved as well as including a development environment. Maybe too restrictive, but that's how I'd distinguish computing devices.

  18. Jason Liao

    Articles like this are seriously damaging your professional reputation. Here are why:

    1. Windows are used by different people with different needs. I am the IT manager of my household. I am a power user doing R programming. But my wife is just a casual user who spends her time watching youtube and doing email. Windows S is just the right system for her. You may make the argument that chrome book is more suitable for her need. But I am the IT manager and I would like to keep every computer at home a Windows machine to simply the technical support.
    2. You live in Google eco-system and that is fine. But not everybody does. You always talk about Chrome, iTunes, Photoshop. I use none of them. You need to know that not everybody is you and you cannot speak for everybody.
    3. Windows S is targeted at a limited audience at this point and there is nothing wrong about its limitation so long as you understand it. Similarly, Chrome book does not run Photoshop or iTunes.
    • Win74ever

      In reply to Jason_Liao:

      So what if you don't use Chrome? Most people do. That's why Chrome has 59% market share. You need to know that not everybody is you and you cannot speak for everybody.

      • Otto Gunter

        In reply to Win74ever: If "most people" is 59%, then there is a significant 41% that do not use Chrome. I do not use Chrome, never have, never had a reason to. I use Edge, and IE before that, to do everything I need to do. What am I missing? Is it really important to everyone? I doubt it.

        • Win74ever

          In reply to Otto_Gunter:

          "I do not use Chrome, never have, never had a reason to. I use Edge, and IE before that, to do everything I need to do."

          It's not my problem you like to suffer. The last time I used Internet Explorer was with Windows XP when I was a kid and didn't know better. Used Firefox until 2010 and since then Chrome all the way. You can install Chrome in every OS possible and it'll sync between all your computers, tablets and phones. Chrome is also secure and never crashes. This is all you're missing. But keep using Microsoft's sad excuse of a browser.

    • joeaxberg

      In reply to Jason_Liao:

      First, i don't think these articles damage Paul's reputation at all. It enhances it! His prickliness is why we keep reading and coming back.

      A home shouldn't need an "IT Manager" anymore than a home should need to keep a professional mechanic on staff 24/7 to keep the cars running. In 2017 things should just work. Windows 10S is Microsoft's promise that "it just works," but as Paul points out, for a lot of people it is going to cause nothing but confusion and/or disappointment. It just ends up being another Microsoft broken promise. Great idea, but it needs to deliver 100%. A general purpose OS that a user can't put Chrome on?

      • Daekar

        In reply to joeaxberg:

        You know what happens in households without someone to make informed IT decisions? They call the Windows user from next door over when they are having trouble with their iMac, they don't have cloud backup setup, they don't do local backup, and they use the default setting on everything whether or not it's a good idea.

        Besides, Chromebooks are to be avoided if for no other reason than it leaves you totally beholden to Google. Ewww.

      • Jason Liao

        In reply to joeaxberg:

        It damages his professional reputation because he let his emotion hijack his reasoning. He is upset because things do not work exactly his way. lol

        A home does not need an IT manager? Who will make decision about mobile phone plan? what type of computer to purchase? Home wi-fi network? If it just works, why do we even need this website?

  19. William Kempf

    Paul, these overly strong statements are annoying. Win10s won't ever be ready for me, but you're wrong, it's ready for plenty of people today. The vast majority of people can get by with just a Chromebook, which is far less capable than Win10s. So, report it's unusable by *you*. Report that it may not be better (in fact may be worse) than alternatives for those that could use it. But lay off the hyperbole click bait articles. It cheapens the site.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to William_Kempf:

      Overly ... strong? I think of them as clear and concise. Windows 10 S is not ready for anyone, as I wrote. This isn't about me.

      You know, I've been reviewing Microsoft products for over 20 years. I write to users, not to my own needs. (Unless I explicitly say otherwise.)

      • Daekar

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I would say that at the present moment, 10S is ready for more than half the people I'm responsible for at work. They're not technically savvy, nor do they have heavy demands of their computing platforms in their personal lives, but because they work in regular Windows on a daily basis to use our enterprise software and intranet they're familiar with the UI principles, real multi-tasking, etc.

        They wouldn't be able to tell you the difference between Chrome and Edge if you put a gun to their heads (excepting the icon). They would be completely satisfied with the built-in calendar and mail apps. They never plug in anything more complicated than a 3 button mouse and wouldn't know what to do with a driver package if you gave it to them. And they would love the fact that they don't have to go hunting for software from God knows where on the internet because of the store.

        10S isn't ready for you, Paul, and it's not ready for my gaming/utility machine, but it IS ready for some people. As soon as Paint.NET and iTunes come to the Store, that number will drastically increase.

        FWIW, I don't have a problem with your strong or clear and concise statements. I'm glad you've got an opinion that you back up with specific reasons even if I disagree with you. Your specific reasons are helpful in evaluating possible stumbling blocks.

      • chrisrut

        In reply to paul-thurrot:

        No, not "overly ... strong." More like "you seem really pissed off." And understandably, MS has over-promised and under-delivered once too often - I mean, "HoloLens." or "longhorn." or...

        But got me thinking ..."not ready for anyone." True. But...

        The whole business of controlling what runs on workstations has been the focus of much effort in security. IT walks a fine line between BYO and CYA (cover your asses and assets) A surefire way to manage what can and can't execute is something of a Holy Grail.

        But we're not ready for it.

        To move my users to this environment I've got to make sure the apps they need are available in the Store. This is a true for acquired as well as developed apps. I can't just wait for a developer who works on alternate Tuesdays beginning with a "W" to get around to packing things up for the Store. It's on me; it's on IT.

        So, MS needs to provide the tools, so we can get on with it, and make this ting inhabitable.

        Which is kind of what you've said.

        • William Kempf

          In reply to chrisrut:

          10S isn't meant to be used as a workstation OS. It's for consumers and education.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to William_Kempf:

            Other than selling Surface laptops with Windows 10 S, when has MSFT mentioned that Windows 10 S is meant for consumers?

          • chrisrut

            In reply to William_Kempf: Hmmm. The very first phrase on the MS "intro to Wi10S" site is "Streamlined for security..." Since the security of PHI and PII for hundreds of thousands - millions - of lives is in my care, I'm interested, and I like this approach a lot. So damn! Their marketing worked on me.
            Current marketing focuses on education, but the needs are not all that different. Given the right apps it's locked-down nature is a very attractive proposition here in health care (Admittedly I also need other management features from the W10 Enterprise version - so perhaps it too should arrive locked down to an S version, out of the box).
            I stand with Paul when he says "it's all about the apps." Which was my actual point: that the means to package things for the store needs to be made broadly available. At which point 10S will start being "ready" for at least some people. By and by, it could even be "the future of Windows."
            • hrlngrv

              In reply to chrisrut:

              It is possible to lock down Windows, it just takes work. You have to disable execution privilege from users' profiles, removable media, etc. Do so, and you'll have Windows PCs which can't run anything outside of C:\Windows and C:\Program Files. At that point, how much more would Windows 10 S give you?

    • Andrea Barbera

      In reply to William_Kempf:

      I agree with Paul here. Comparing to Chromebooks makes no sense, since anyone buying a Windows pc has other expectations and requirements than someone clearly into Google's ecosystem used to the web-based or app-based life of Android and Google's online services. Just the simple fact that an app like the full MS Office suite isn't available for everyone (including commercial Office 365 subscribers) in Windows 10S, is a testament to the fact that there is still work to be done.

      • William Kempf

        In reply to Andrea_Barbera:

        Except, 10 S is a response to Chromebooks. The comparison is made for a reason.

        And, versions of the Office apps ARE available for 10S. Not the full desktop versions, no, but then for the targeted audience that doesn't much matter.

        Look, I think 10S is a mistake, unlike Paul who thinks its a good idea just poorly delivered. But this doesn't change the fact that there are many people who'd likely never even know if you gave them a computer with 10S on it that it was running a different OS than any other PC. Hell, most of them don't even know what an OS is.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to William_Kempf:

      Chromebooks far less capable than Windows 10 S. Details? The wealth of app offerings in the Windows Store? Bundled WordPad? Edge so much more of a browser than Chrome?

      Yes, there are some packaged desktop programs in the Windows Store. Maybe they run under Windows 10 S, though various Adobe programs don't. I don't have Windows 10 S, so I can't test.

  20. Narg

    Paul, for a user like you Windows 10 S will always be half baked. You are a power user. 10 S is not for power users.

    I'm getting a little tired of the expectation that the media is putting on the OS providers to provide EVERYTHING. A well matured OS is not just a single company. Never has been. It's a community, an ecosystem. Why am I telling you this? You should know it. Yet you keep bashing one company for the lack of content within an ecosystem? That's kind of dumb...

    As I see if 10 S has the strength of that were iOS or Android within their first couple of years. I wish I could see it growing at the same rate as those, but that is obviously a problem. I do hope that 10 S continues. It has a purpose, and even a strong need. It does not need mis-guided bashing such as yours. You need a stronger OS, that's obvious. Why bash one that doesn't fit your personal needs?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Narg:

      Your 2nd paragraph could have been written a few years ago about Windows Phone. The counterargument is also the same: when something better or at least broader already exists, the new entrant either needs to be LOTS BETTER or needs to achieve breadth VERY QUICKLY. By its nature, Windows 10 S can't be better than Windows 10 Pro unless you define better to mean less capable. As for breadth, ISVs don't seem particularly interested, and even MSFT itself sees no urgency to providing UWP Notepad, Wordpad, CharMap, etc.

      UWP, live tiles, its innterapp sharing model, the Windows Store, etc were all great ideas for phones. They have been and remain at best problematic for PCs.

      • Narg

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        The 2nd paragraph could also be written about Linux, or OSx or... So what? Those other OSes still suffer far less use than full Windows. And where did I mention "better than Pro"? You made that up. 10 S is obviously less capable, but not everyone or every situation needs every capability. Many do of course, but not all.

        Some of my work has machines in very narrow use situations. The broad use ability of full Windows often bears problems that are just not needed. Simplify the tools to only the use they are intended for, and the work becomes much more focused, and done better. It ain't rocket science...

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to Narg:

      I am not making the case that Windows 10 S is not ready for me. I'm making the case that it is not ready for anybody. Please read the article before you comment like this.

      • crfonseca

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Isn't that a bit like saying "well, I never use a touch screen on a laptop, so no one will ever need one"?

        Thing is, a normal home PC user actually does very little with their PC, they easily spend 99% of the time just browsing the web and while you need Chrome, quite a lot of people are just fine with Edge, and don't really care enough about it to even know what a "web browser" is.

        And as for hardware support, a lot of normal home PC users are just fine with the support Windows has for their inkjet printers, and don't even know that it has a new-fangled thingamajig that lets them print sideways, or print upside down, or whatever. Or they might not even have a printer. Not everyone works from home, quite a few people work in offices where they can use the office's printer for personal use.

        For those people, and there are a lot of them, Windows 10 S would work fine. In fact, for quite a lot of them Windows 10 S would work better than either Home or Pro, since it would stop them from installing random stuff from the web that does who knows what to their PCs that we non-normals then have to fix.

      • Ukumio

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I don't agree with your assessment that it's not ready for anybody because I use Windows 10 S every day I go to University. I don't use the Surface Laptop as I do my home PC but as a lightweight tool for study, and so far, it hasn't given me a single issue. Therefore it's ready for me as a study device.

      • Narg

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Paul, I did read the article, and you glossed over that making it sound very centric to your expectations. I personally would never use 10 S either, as it doesn't fit my needs or wants. As I stated, I doubt you would use it. But knocking it down for everyone? "Who on earth..."? That's everyone, and you don't speak for everyone. That's not very thoughtful or well considered. I do see places where it could be highly beneficial. For those scenarios, it's very ready. And, I think your article is too narrow.

      • bbold

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        But is anything ever truly *ready* for you, Paul? lol just kidding :) And yes I agree.

  21. Darmok N Jalad

    Your comment about MS reminded me of the demotivational poster about meetings: "None of us is as dumb as all of us."

  22. Simard57

    in the long run end game - where do you see "the most popular Windows applications—Chrome, iTunes, Photoshop" being run?

    Will it be as a web-app or a native app on ChromeOS?

  23. John Jackson

    "Only Microsoft, a company bursting at the seams with smart people and smart ideas—could be this dumb."

    NASDAQ:MSFT is not dumb in the sense of understanding how crap Windows S is ...

    ... the edition, like Windows 8, is an attempt to relegate consumers to a serf-like existence where the company is in complete control of the ecosystem and in particular monetising the same (via the Store).

    I regard pundits who do not point out this obvious strategy as dumb.

    That's why the Onedrive/Office 365 combo was withdrawn.

    That's why all Surface hardware is reliable.

    That's why signing into the Store will switch your account from local to MSA.

    That's why Paul couldn't initially find how to install Windows using only a local account.

    That's why Windows 8 METRO.

    That's why secure boot.

    That's why HOME must take updates, regardless.

    That's why all the telemetry ... so that NASDAQ:MSFT can find where to put the cut points for monetisation.


    How dumb have you got to be to miss all of these pointers?

    Still, Paul is sailing about as close as he can with Surfacegate and Windows S.

    Windows S should be opposed and trashed as comprehensively as Windows 8 METRO.

    • Jack Smith

      In reply to JackoUK:

      Great points. If we look at which tech company is the best place to work we see that Google actually has won that honor in not only 2017, but 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013! No other has done it more than 2 year in a row and Google has now done it 5 straight years.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to JackoUK:

      "[Windows 10S] is an attempt to relegate consumers to a serf-like existence where the company is in complete control of the ecosystem and in particular monetising the same (via the Store)."

      You mean the same thing Apple and Google are not just attempting but actually doing with iOS and Android and Chrome OS?

      • Waethorn

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        Chrome OS doesn't lock you into anything. It's designed for web apps, and the Web is open.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        Re Chrome OS, I suppose it's just Google's gross negligence that has left it possible to switch Chromebooks/boxes into developer mode, install crouton, then run any Linux software the machine can run.

        I figure Google and Apple were more correct using the same OS for phones and tablets but not PC-like machines. Bringing Android apps to Chrome OS has taken a while, and it's beginning to seem like it'll never happen with older Chromebooks. However, it's an OPTION for PC-like machines. The equivalent for Windows PCs would be running UWP apps in addition to real PC software. Until someone, anyone makes a UWP app with a workable dense UI, claims that UWP is the future will continue to ring hollow.

        • Jack Smith

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          You no longer have to put Chromebooks in developer to use GNU/Linux. Chromebooks now support containers so what is super slick is you can just use GNURoot or Termux Android apps on Chromebooks and no developer required.

          You can then use a X Windows server like XSDL and you have a desktop GNU/Linux machine on top of ChromeOS.

        • MikeGalos

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          Ah, you mean that Chrome OS can be, by means of turning it into a developer mode, can be treated like a real OS?

          But, somehow the "Convert to Windows 10 Pro" option doesn't do that?

          • Jack Smith

            In reply to MikeGalos:

            No you do NOT need to put Chrome OS in "developer" any longer to be what you call a real OS.

            Google added container support so you get a secure way now to use GNU/Linux on Chromebooks and/or Android on Chromebooks.

            What is slick is since ChromeOS has a LInux kernel these run native on Chromebooks. THere is no emulation or anything like that.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to MikeGalos:

            Sure, at the moment the Windows 10 S to Pro upgrade is free, so similar to Chrome OS developer mode. However, not the same. Launching a terminal in Chrome OS requires user action. As long as no terminal is open, Chrome OS devices are as secure as they'd be not in developer mode. PCs upgraded from S to Pro can't be as safe as they'd have been if they'd remained using S. For me, that's a significant difference.

            Also, FWLIW, Chrome OS has a DOSBox app, so it can run all sorts of ancient 16-bit software, even Windows 3.1. There's a DOSBox app in the Windows Store, but it seems to be available only for mobile devices.

      • anchovylover

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        Leave it to good old Mike to wave the MS flag once again. I'm sure your loyalty over many years is appreciated at Redmond.

  24. MikeGalos

    What a shame that an article that's basically "I live in the Google ecosystem and this doesn't support Google's current products and where Google claims they're going in the future so Brad is wrong" lives in the Standard side while the article Brad wrote that it's saying is wrong lives in Premium. It's awfully hard to see what context Paul's comments relate to when the original is behind a pay wall while the reply isn't.

    For example, I have yet to see Photoshop, real Photoshop, live on ChromeOS or on iOS so I have to wonder why it's even an issue. Perhaps Brad mentioned it and Paul is replying to that comment. Hard to know.

    There is a reason, after all, why Standard users can't comment on Premium articles. Perhaps that should apply to articles that are effectively article comments as well.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Phones and PCs are used for different things. However, Apple's Mac app store isn't trying to use the same set of APIs for its offerings as Apple's iOS app store. I don't use Macs, so I don't know for sure, but I suspect there's a version of Photoshop in the Mac app store which actually runs on all recent Macs.

      As for tablets, Apple had it right the first time, they're more phone-like than PC-like. MSFT saw it otherwise, but I'd love to see MSFT's telemetry for all tablets and whether Modern or UWP apps are used even 25% of their total running time. That is, I figure the overwhelming majority of the time Windows tablets run non-Store Win32 software.

      People want to use PCs as PCs. Chromebooks aren't PCs. Maybe we should all accept that machines running Windows 10 S also aren't PCs, though they could become PCs with an OS upgrade.

      That said, for the interests of this discussion, Brad's article shouldn't be premium.

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I think we know how it is going regarding touch on Windows. Touch screens have been commonplace on portable Windows devices since Windows 8, and back then there were more detachable keyboard models available. Since then, that market has seemingly fallen off in favor of the folding notebook, which offers a very compromised experience as a tablet. The very nature of offering a PC that can do either touch or mouse and keyboard results in a very inconsistent user experience. On an iPad, touch drives the UI. Sure ergonomics suffer when a keyboard is attached, but the consistency of interaction with the OS is the same for every app.

        All that isn't to say that touch has no value on Windows, but I think you do have it right that most people are buying Windows machines to run their familiar Windows programs.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

          I look at it this way: choice it good. It'd be nice if EVERY laptop model could be bought with either touch or nontouch screens. Touch screens cost more than comparable nontouch screens, so opting for nontouch should save money on the purchase price.

          I didn't mention touch specifically before, but I'd prefer to be able to make a price-touch trade-off. I'd opt for lower price. I only wish it were possible for Windows not to load touch handling into memory on systems without touch screens.

  25. GeekWithKids

    Did you ever get Photoshop Elements to run?

  26. crfonseca

    You can already wrap web apps as UWP apps today, they're called "Hosted Web Apps", and the fact that pretty much no one is doing it is probably telling.

    And I'm not sure you've understood what Progressive Web Apps are, since they very much are UWP apps. In fact, they're simply web apps with extra code in them to support UWP features.

    Microsoft just calls them "progressive" because as a developer you can add UWP features whenever you want to, you're not forced to do it.

    And they're definitely not cross-platform, they're very much Windows 10 only, although, since the code you add to you web app is standard JavaScript, there's nothing stopping other platforms from supporting them.

    But I go back to my original point, Windows 10 already supports them, and no one is bothering with them.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to crfonseca:

      Progressive Web Apps is not a Microsoft concept. In fact, the term originated at Google, I believe. There are a lot of technical details involved, but in a nutshell it is a general term for a platform and browser independent website that uses modern, but standard, browser technologies to look and operate more like a native application.

      • crfonseca

        In reply to jgraebner:

        Sure, but my main point is, is anyone of importance doing them?

        Yes, you have the oh my god what the **** is that???? Yahoo Mail app, the do we really need it? LinkedIn app, and a few others that no one cares about, but where are the really nice ones? We could have a lighter Facebook app that is simply the Facebook site wrapped into an app, or Facebook Messenger app, or, you know, apps that people actually care to use.

        But we don't.

        And to me, that is where all the PWA talk falls flat on its face.

  27. v_2samg

    Paul is still stuck in 1995

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