Windows 10 S is a streamlined version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system that, among other things, can only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. That makes Windows 10 S faster and more secure than Windows 10 Home or Pro in some situations, but it also means you may have trouble installing drivers for third-party printers or other peripherals.

But hey, Microsoft is encouraging developers to create Windows Store versions of existing Win32, iOS, and Android apps… so hopefully there’ll be plenty of apps to choose from. And Microsoft recently announced that Ubuntu, Fedora, and SUSE Linux would even be in the Windows Store, making it easy to install a Linux distro on Windows 10 computers.

It turns out that last bit doesn’t apply to Windows 10 S though.

In a blog post, Microsoft’s Rich Turner explains that not every app in the Windows Store will work on Windows 10 S. One category of apps that won’t work? Anything with a command-line, shell, or console.

That pretty much rules out all of the Windows Subsystem for Linux apps, since they’re primarily designed to run in command-line windows (although once you’ve got them configured, hackers have figured out ways to run Linux-based software with a graphical user interface).

Turner says the problem is that while some Linux distros will be distributed via the Windows Store, once installed on a computer, they run outside of the sandboxed environment used by most Universal Windows Platform apps, which defeats some of the security & simplicity goals of Windows 10 S.

Ultimately, the blog post also spells out something important to know about Windows 10 S: it’s not designed for power users. That’s why Microsoft offers an option to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for $50.

If you buy a computer like the upcoming Surface Notebook and find Windows 10 S too restrictive, you can pay a little more to get the full Windows 10 experience.

But as an operating system designed for less tech-savvy users, the new operating system offers some of the same benefits as Google’s Chrome OS, including quick boot times even on low-end hardware, and apps that run in a sandboxed environment which helps keep your operating system safe and prevents the computer from getting slower and slower over time due to programs that spread themselves out across the operating system and bog things down.

Specifically, Turner says “Windows 10 S is not well-suited for many app developers/hackers, admins & IT pros.” So if you’re wondering why you’d want Windows 10 S, the answer is… maybe you don’t.

But over the past few years Chrome OS has become very popular in the education market, and Microsoft is hoping it can grab back some of that education market share it’s lost to Google when Windows 10 S launches later this year.

I guess we’ll find out if it’s too little too late… or perhaps if Windows 10 S finds a home in other niche markets.

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11 replies on “Not all Windows Store apps will run on Windows 10 S (No Linux distros, for example)”

  1. windows 10s stinks already… looks like windows RT 2.0 … it is going to be a failure.

  2. Your insane if you think Win 10 S users would be ever going near anything linux in the first place.

  3. In previous versions of Windows, it was ‘My Computer’. Windows 10 S seems like it was designed as a Operating System for ‘Somebody Else’. Ok, so you can ‘pay a little more’ to upgrade to a more usable version. How much? Also, will the low end Windows 10 S laptops even meet the minimum system requirements to upgrade? 32gb of storage probably won’t be enough to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for example. I like the idea of a Windows OS stripped of all the bloat that runs well on low end hardware (like XP), but not if I can’t download and install my own browsers like Chrome or Firefox.

    1. Point well taken, but I’ll throw in that if you upgrade to full 10, it’s still called “This PC” and not “My Computer” anymore 😛

      And I don’t know if this is actually what you’d be interested in, but you might want to check out ReactOS, a binary-compatible open-source remake of Windows that runs really light.

      1. Have you used ReactOS? I tried it out (again) recently and it still behaves like Alpha software. Definitely not for a daily driver.

        1. I used it a little last year on some old machines I had at the makerspace. Yeah, it certainly is in alpha, but it did what I needed it to do at the time.

  4. Yeah, on a personal level, spot on; I don’t want Windows 10 S, as a dev/hacker/gamer/enthusiast.

    But as an IT professional working in the education sector… I still see Chromebooks as winning here. We had a meeting recently where we went down the pros and cons of different devices, and Chromebooks won handily in every category, and may even edge out iPads in our recommendations almost completely.

    On the consumer level, I can maybe see a place for 10 S, but I still don’t like it. It seems to unnecessarily get in the way of general computing for a consumer based device. Not that they’re the first or the worst by most measures. Still, this is not a direction I want to see any company going. Forcing consumers to be just consumers is unhealthy. I understand the arguments from a security or management perspective, but to me, they aren’t worth the costs.

    1. In every caterogy, while you don’t MathCad, Autocad, even IDEs with Python, PHP and so on. Chromebook in my language sounds as cripplebook. And it’s their true nature, they are useless for something bigger than word/spreadsheet processor and pdf and Interner viewer.

      1. As far as I can tell, Chromebooks can run the AutoCAD Android app that’s comparable to the one in the Windows store, that is, the one that would run on 10 S. There’s also AutoCAD 360 which runs in a browser (including Chrome OS). Things like PythonAnywhere and Python Fiddle also exist.

        And yes, for the needs of schools, Chromebooks I think are still the clear winners, except in very niche cases. They are much easier and less expensive to manage. Why do you think 10 S will do any better here?

      2. Yea, because K12 kids just can’t survive without Autocad and Mathcad. What world do you live in? As for IDEs, realistically the closest kids get to programming will be some half baked attempt to make a webpage or perhaps play for a week or two with Scratch or some other web based environment teaching Javascript.

        You sound like a certain blogger (not pointing fingers) who went out of his way to remind us with each and every post about a netbook loaded with Linux that it couldn’t run Photoshop like that was the only thing that mattered to 90% of the buying public.

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