A Few More Details About Windows 10 S for Firstline Workers

Posted on September 25, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 23 Comments

Earlier today, I wrote about Microsoft’s efforts to bring Windows 10 S to the enterprise, in part via some new third-party PCs. At the time, I didn’t know too much about those PCs, but now we have a bit more information.

First, be sure to review Windows 10 S Moves Tentatively Into the Enterprise for the basics: These PCs will be made by Fujitsu, HP, and Lenovo, and prices start at $275. Since then, we’ve learned that Acer is also part of this group.

These new PCs specifically target a new sub-market within the enterprise for so-called firstline workers, which Microsoft is also hitting with a new version of Microsoft 365. These are the users who “are first to engage customers, represent a company’s brand, and see products and services in action,” Microsoft says.

So there are four new PCs coming from three of those PC makers. (It’s not clear what’s up with Fujitsu.) They are:

Acer Aspire 1. A 14-inch ultraslim laptop that ships in Q4 2017, with prices starting at $299.

Acer Swift 1. A 14-inch ultraslim laptop that ships in Q4 2017, with prices starting at $349.

HP Stream 14 Pro. A 14-inch ultraslim laptop that ships in October for $275 and up.

Lenovo V330. A 14-inch ultraslim laptop that ships in February 2018 and will cost $349 and up.

So the screen size is interesting. Unlike the education-focused Windows 10 S PCs that launched earlier this year with 11-inch screens, these new firstline worker PCs all have 14-inch displays. That’s good news for actual adults, though I still question the viability of Windows 10 S, of course.

Additionally, Microsoft is expanding the Windows 10 product family yet again with something called Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Where “normal” Windows 10 S is basically Windows 10 Pro with a few missing features, Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode is the same, but for Windows 10 Enterprise. It will be offered through Microsoft 365.

“With the new Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode, customers will be able to experience Windows 10 Enterprise with all the benefits of Windows 10 S – streamlined for security and low total cost of ownership,” Microsoft notes.

Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode will be available in “a future update,” which I assume is Windows 10 version 1803.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “A Few More Details About Windows 10 S for Firstline Workers”

  1. hrlngrv

    The HP Stream 14 Pro already exists. HP's website doesn't mention whether it has a touch screen. OTOH, it does have a Celeron processor. If Windows 10 S mostly becomes associated with low-end hardware, especially with non-touch screen low cost laptops, wouldn't that undercut much of the supposed benefit of UWP apps?

    • wright_is

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      UWP doesn't require touch. I have a number of UWP apps on my PCs, and although they have touch, I generally used them docked and use the UWP apps on non-touch external displays (working on a 34" widescreen display is a lot more comfortable than the internal 13" display when sitting at my desk).

      UWP apps are, currently, generally light on resources, so a Celeron would probably be fine - it is enough for email, MS Office and general other business applications, if not a future-proof as a Core i3.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to wright_is:

        I realize UWP doesn't require touch. I question the value of UWP vs desktop/Win32 alternatives on systems without touch.

        For me, the software I use for work has no UWP alternatives. Even packaged Excel can't use DCOM add-ins, and I rely on a few. Admittedly, the only UWP app I've found any use for is the Weather app as live tile.

        However, I accept your point that UWP and Windows 10 S generally can do so little that Celeron processors may be more than adequate.

        • wright_is

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          Again, UWP has nothing to do with touch. You can make a Win32 app usable with touch and you can make a UWP app usable with touch. Neither *has* to work with touch or be touch first.

  2. grunger106

    It makes perfect sense in lots of scenarios,

    You're not trying to deploy a computer for the user's fun, you need the person who it's allocated to do their job. No more, no less.

    A user should be given the lowest level of access and options to required perform their role.

    So a locked down machine, with no option to even try and install non-managed software is perfect for 80% of business machines

    (We already do this with a mixture of Applocker,SRP, and GP)

    They might not like it, they might moan that they can't install app X, but so what - the machine is fit for it's job and the attack vector just got halved.

    There are some users (IT Admins, Devs, and special case users) which a full-featured Win10 would be a better fit - and that's fine too.

    Home users are a different area - I'd assume they'd want control over their PC, so I don't see the fit of Win10S there but frankly Home IT and business IT are completely different fields.

    • John Scott

      In reply to grunger106: Except I know of plenty of businesses who use special software that would not be available in a Windows app form. Yes, you could always make the argument that you could run business within a 10S OS but that's mostly accepting the fact you must do it under Microsoft ecosystem exclusively. I myself find that part hard to accept right now.

  3. MutualCore

    How is this supposed to compete against $199 Chromebooks that will never suffer Windows Rot?

    • wright_is

      In reply to MutualCore:

      One of the supposed benefits of WIndows 10 S is that it won't suffer from Windows Rot.

      That said, Windows Rot seems to be something from the past. I have a 2010 Sony Vaio that has been upgraded from 7 to 8 to 8.1 to 10 and never re-installed and it is still reasonably fast (now that I have put an SSD in it).

  4. skane2600

    As predicted these Windows 10S machines offer no price advantage over low-end PCs running full Windows. Laptops seem like an odd choice too. Do "first line" workers do a lot of travel?

  5. LocalPCGuy

    Companies that are thinking about 10 S can set 10 Pro Creators Update to only install from the Store. That way any desirable Desktop applications will keep working. No new installs from outside the store are permitted. I tried it. I found it annoying, so I changed it back to allow installs from everywhere. Businesses can test Windows 10 Pro CU with 10 S settings for themselves now.

  6. rameshthanikodi

    Wow - I can't believe i'm saying this - but Windows 10 S makes perfect sense as a "thin client" of sorts for frontline workers such as receptionists and cashiers. They all are already using cheap Windows notebooks anyway, might as well lump them together with the Chromebook-competitor product.

  7. Waethorn

    Somebody please define "first-line workers"....

    Are they talking about IT professionals?? You can't run RSAT on this - it's dead out the door.

    • slbailey1

      In reply to Waethorn:

      First-Line Workers are your Sales Force, Office work, etc. All they need is MS Office, Company software that can be packaged with Centennial and placed in the Store, access to the Company virtual desktop and the Web. These devices are not for your IT personnel, developers, or power users.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to slbailey1:

        Actually, if machines can run virtual desktops, company software could run from there with no need for Centennial packaging. Ditto Office unless licensing requires an Office license on every client PC.

        • skane2600

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          But no need specifically for 10S either.

          • wright_is

            In reply to skane2600:

            10 S makes the management easier and is easier to lock down - the user can't even load Win32 applications in their user space, against company policy. It is the KISS principle. Why the full WIn32 environment and the full flexibility of Windows, when they just need access to a few pre-defined applications and the rest of the device is locked down for security reasons.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to skane2600:

            If enough stuff is on the application servers and licensing requirements are satisfied, no need for Windows on local machines at all.

            • wright_is

              In reply to hrlngrv:

              If the workers are on customer sites, with no access to Wi-Fi and poor mobile signal, then having application servers is pretty pointless.

              Our sales staff often end up on customer sites in meeting rooms, where the customer doesn't have any guest Wi-Fi (and they aren't allowed to connect to the customers internal network) and the mobile signal is almost non-existent. That means all presentations, sales materials, customer information etc. have to be local.

              • skane2600

                In reply to wright_is:

                That doesn't sound like a great 10S scenario either, however. When you have access to the Internet you can make up somewhat for the lack of UWP applications, but without it, you're quite limited.

                • wright_is

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  They will usually have the tools they need installed - such as Office 365, for example. If they are giving a sales presentation, then they need PowerPoint, which is installable on S, for example.

            • skane2600

              In reply to hrlngrv:

              I agree. It would be interesting if there were a truly thin client - one could argue that even Linux would be overkill.

  8. John Scott

    So pay the same as a full OS device and deal with the limitations? Maybe interesting for a certain type of user with minimal requirements. Not sure enterprise would be my target for these?