Living with Windows 10 S: The Desktop and the Book

Posted on August 27, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 31 Comments

Much of the emphasis on Windows 10 S from a hardware perspective has been on laptops and 2-in-1s. But how does this system behave on a desktop PC?

Not that well, as it turns out.

I’ve written a lot about Windows 10 S this summer, and most recently, and most controversially to some, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Chromebook is probably a more viable PC than one based on Windows 10 S. Worse, Windows 10 S, I’ve found, is really not suitable for anyone. At least not yet.

But the thing about Windows 10 S, as with all personal technology, is that it can change. And that change can come in a variety of ways.

I feel that Microsoft needs to improve Windows 10 S, and I have some ideas about how that might happen. And while there’s no indication that the software giant will ever wake up and do the right thing, it has at least answered my call to let Windows Insiders test this system. So it will now be getting feedback from a much wider audience, and one that includes its biggest fans. So if these folks find that Windows 10 S has issues, as I believe it does, then maybe Redmond will finally listen.

But we need to get on with life in the meantime. And deal with Windows 10 S it now stands.

And in my case, that means two things. Getting work done day-to-day. And getting back on track with my book, Windows 10 Field Guide. Which, like so many things in my life was sidetracked for the past three or more months thanks to our sudden and unexpected decision to move to Pennsylvania.

Well, we’re in Pennsylvania now. And while it will be a lot longer than I had hoped before we’ll be up and running from a general perspective, I’m certainly able to get work done now. And I have a few ideas.

One of them involves Windows 10 S.

My original plan this year for the Windows 10 Field Guide was to update the book for the Creators Update. And I’d updated several chapters when the whole move thing happened … but not much has happened there since. So I spoke with Rafael and Martin and have decided to move forward and just update the book for the Fall Creators Update. I’m afraid to announce an ETA on that update, but I’ve already started working on it, and I should start posting updated chapters soon.

So I’m going to restructure the book so that it focuses on Windows 10 S. No, not to the detriment of Windows 10 Home or Pro, which are of course the most popular product versions. But I want to make sure that everything in the book actually pertains to Windows 10 S, and that Windows 10 S’s unique features are fully covered. And then I will make sure that the features that require Windows 10 Home or Pro are called out as such.

The idea here is that Windows 10 S is the “core” version of Windows 10. And that those other two product versions build off of it, are supersets of it. And that I should structure the book to account for that.

So naturally, I’d like to try and Windows 10 S on my main desktop PC. Actually keep using the thing every day. And that’s when I tried to actually install Windows 10 S on a desktop PC.

Which … didn’t work.

And to be fair, I even cheated a bit. My main desktop PC these days is an enormous HP ENVY Curved All-in-One PC with a 34-inch display and discrete graphics. And … obviously, that will never work. But I do have my previous desktop PC, the little Intel NUC, sitting around. And that PC includes nothing but the most standard of parts. Is, in fact, just a laptop in a tiny box without a screen. So clearly, that would work just fine.


Windows 10 S installed just fine, sure. But in a nice reminder of the perils of this OS, a number of important components were never provided with drivers. So it works. But it doesn’t really work.

Now, I know that Microsoft has created a page describing which PCs are certified to work with Windows 10 S. But I was still surprised to see that such a standard Intel-based PC was not fully supported, through the OS, from a driver standpoint. I suspect all of the PCs that are supported are portable PCs. Which is interesting, when you think about it. Chrome OS runs on Chromebooks, of course, but also on Chromebits and Chromeboxes.

Anyway, I can continue using Windows 10 S on a laptop—well, a new Surface Pro—while I work in Windows 10 Pro on this huge PC. But maybe I’ll experiment with using the Surface Pro with Surface Dock and an external monitor. I’d really like to stay within Windows 10 S if possible. No matter how painful it is.

Remember: Jerry Pournelle may have made mistakes so you didn’t have to. But I just make mistakes. You can at least learn from them. So don’t waste half a weekend on this kind of nonsense. It will only bring you pain and heartbreak.


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