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Microsoft Windows 10 S: Simple but restricted OS meant for schools, businesses

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-05-2017 Vishal Mathur

The new Windows 10 edition, which joins the family of Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Home, is called Windows 10 S. While you may be a bit perplexed as to what the “S” means, it is essentially “a lot of the old and a bit of the new” sort of feeling. Windows 10 S essentially has the foundations of the Windows 10 Pro, but is significantly locked-down in terms of what apps can run on it, which makes it not only faster, but also easier for the configuration to manage devices on the network and less vulnerable to potential security threats.

For starters, Windows 10 S will not run any apps that aren’t already available on the Windows Store, or aren’t preloaded on the operating system (OS). This might surprise you a bit, and yes, this is a significant change compared to the other Windows 10 editions. However, this could be one way to push app developers to switch their desktop apps to the Universal Windows Platform and make them available through the Store. Interestingly, Microsoft’s own Office365 suite of productivity software is “coming soon” on the Windows Store.

Since a PC running Windows 10 S will not be able to download and install any software (the way you would otherwise on any Windows PC), this does mean that there is potentially less threat of malware invading the system. This also means that many computer manufacturers (also known as OEMs, or original equipment manufacturers) will not be able to clutter the experience by preloading apps on a new Windows 10 S computer that you purchase.

Also read: Does Microsoft need a Google Chromebook rival?

In terms of the limitations, there are certain popular apps that will not be running on Windows 10 S, at least for the moment. One of them is Google’s Chrome web browser, by far the most popular web browser globally. Bing will become the default search engine, and this cannot be changed. You won’t be able to install and use Apple iTunes, in case you own an iPhone or iPad, or have subscribed to Apple Music.

Could all this make Microsoft vulnerable to the sort of lawsuits that it faced for monopolizing the Internet Explorer browser on PCs, for example? Incidentally, one could install other browsers on those Windows variants later, which isn’t the case with the Windows 10 S.

Then there is the small matter of the hardware and peripherals that you may wish to connect with a Windows 10 S PC. Microsoft suggests that “while most hardware peripherals (such as printers) which already work with Windows 10 will work with Windows 10 S too, there may be limited functionality, presumably because drivers cannot be installed on Windows 10 S. Again, this could be a potential issue for many users.

If you are indeed convinced about Windows 10 S, the upgrade will cost you $49, and this can be downloaded via the Windows Store too. However, if your PC already runs Windows 10 Pro, the Windows 10 S configuration will not be available.

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