Windows 10 S is “the soul of today’s Windows”, according to Microsoft. It’s a new version of Windows intended for school PCs, but available to everyone. It’s designed to be more simple and streamlined, so it only runs applications from the Windows Store—unless you spend another $50 to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.
Microsoft announced that Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba will ship Windows 10 S education PCs starting at $189, beginning this summer. Microsoft is also releasing a $999 Surface Laptop, which runs Windows 10 S.
This article was originally written based on the information Microsoft released at its May 2, 2017 event, but has since been updated with new information we’ve learned.
How Is Windows 10 S Different?
The biggest difference in Windows 10 S is that can only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. These apps are checked for security and run in a secure container. This ensures that applications can’t mess with your registry, leave files behind, or cause problems with the rest of your PC. You can get the same benefits by running those new Universal apps from the Windows Store on a Windows 10 PC. But unlike normal Windows 10, you won’t have the option of downloading other apps that aren’t available in the store.
Thankfully, full versions of Microsoft Office 365 applications—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote—are coming to the Windows Store soon. They’re packaged using Microsoft’s Project Centennial, which allows traditional Windows desktop applications to be run in a secure container and placed in the Windows Store. The application’s developer just has to package the application and submit it to the Store. Hopefully, Windows 10 S will give more desktop application developers the push to do so.
Microsoft demonstrated Windows 10 S signing in much faster than Windows 10 Pro on a first login. That’s no surprise, as Windows 10 S won’t have all the usual manufacturer-installed bloatware slowing things down.
Windows 10 S also has a different default desktop background that Microsoft says is “streamlined” like Windows 10 S itself, so it provides you with a clue you’re using Windows 10 S.
What Happens if You Download a Desktop App in Windows 10 S?
If you try to download a (non-Store) desktop application on a Windows 10 S PC, you’ll see a message saying that “For security and performance, Windows 10 S only runs verified apps from the Store”. The dialog informs you of similar applications available in the Windows Store. For example, Windows will suggest you install Adobe Photoshop Express from the Windows Store if you try to download the desktop version of Photoshop.
In this way, Windows 10 S’s default behavior works just like Windows 10 with the “Allow apps from the Store only” option enabled. This will also protect those PCs from malware.
Windows 10 S Offers Some Pro Features, But No Command Lines
Windows 10 S is actually built on Windows 10 Pro, and not Windows 10 Home. This means that Windows 10 S has access to powerful Windows 10 Professional features, including BitLocker drive encryption, the ability to join domains, and the Hyper-V virtual machine software.
However, the advanced features stop there. Windows…
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