Microsoft is launching a new version of Windows aimed at the education market, and as expected it’s called Windows 10S.

In a nutshell, it’s Windows 10… but it’s been streamlined to offer decent, reliable performance even on entry-level hardware, and it’s designed to offer tighter security since it runs all apps in a container that’s isolated from the core operating system.

It does that by only letting users run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. But there’s one key difference between Windows 10 S and its chief rival in the education market (Google’s Chrome OS): you can switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro at any time if you want to install apps that may not otherwise be available or take advantage of other features.


While unveiling the new operating system at an education-themed event in New York City today, Microsoft showed a couple of nifty features, including:

  • Faster boot/login times than Windows 10 Pro
  • Easy tools for setting up multiple computers with an image written to a USB flash drive
  • Ability to work with existing Windows-compatible hardware including Acer’s Mixed Reality headset

Microsoft says Windows 10 S computers will be available starting this summer for $189 and up (with some premium models coming later). Partners including Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba are all expected to launch Windows 10 S hardware.

The company says schools that are already using Windows 10 computers can also switch to Windows 10 S for free, and Minecraft education edition and Office 365 for education will also be available to schools for free.

Overall, you’d be correct in thinking that Windows 10 S does less than Windows 10 Home or Pro in a lot of ways. But Microsoft is betting that less is more for some customers… particularly those in the education market.

For example, the company says a Windows 10 S computer should run just as well after years of use as it does on day one, and when a student tries to install an app that’s not available from the Windows Store, the operating system will recommend similar apps that are available.

But while Chrome OS was designed for consumers and eventually became popular in education, Windows 10 S appears to be designed first and foremost for educators and students. I’ll be curious to see whether it holds any appeal for the general public.


A $189 laptop that offers security and performance similar to what you’d expect from a Chromebook sounds nice. But a growing number of Chromebooks are adding support for the Google Play Store, which gives them access to a much richer app store than Microsoft currently offers… but with Office 365, Outlook, and other key PC apps coming to the Windows Store, Microsoft may have a powerful Chrome OS competitor on its hands.

And if Windows 10 S does become popular in the classroom, it could encourage more developers to create Windows Store versions of their existing Windows applications… which could help bridge the app gap.

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11 replies on “Windows 10 S is streamlined for performance, security (and aimed at education market)”

  1. The explanation of greater security is moot. Windows Stations, Integrity Levels, running under a user account instead of a system account etc. already separate software from the system, AppContainers are not needed for that purpose. Instead of repeating Microsoft propaganda, provide a real discussion whether or why security would be greater and why Pro would on purpose be desinged less secure.

    AppContainers are a nice security feature but the question is why it is not applied to desktop software and why there are no command line tools enabling power users to apply it to them. Just so that PR can pretend that store apps were more secure than desktop software? If MS really wanted security, it would also use the extra security features of Windows Server for consumer Windows versions. We do not get the best possible security but only as much as we pay for. Pro is more expensive than 10 S because Pro allows easier use of security features, with the ecception of AppContainers that is excluded so that PR can deceive naive tech jounalists and naive endconsumers.

    Stop believing and spreading Microsoft’s lies! 10 S does not have greater security – it just has a different kind of security concept.

  2. Essentially, if you’re in the market share Windows S is aimed at, you really should go out there and grab one of the thousands of ~$200 laptops currently shipping with the “full” Win 10 Home instead of this MS Store-bound piece of junk.

  3. So… Windows RT 2.0, but this time for x86 & ARM rather than just ARM, and with an upgrade path to REAL Windows when it inevitably disappoints bargain hunters.

  4. I’m confused. So you can’t download and install programs normally, and you need to install everything from Microsoft Windows App Store?

  5. They are in with a chance because they can push Minecraft and Office for free to cheap. But this smacks of Windows RT to me. The big difference is being able to easily upgrade to Pro. I’m seeing reports that is a $50 one time fee for a one way upgrade that can’t be taken back to “S”.
    That leaves me thinking this will not escape Window’s often PITA upgrade cycles. I also find the claims it will stay cruft-free and run as well down the line on day one (as Chromebooks do) dubious.
    Given the $50 fee is for Pro and not Home it might turn out to be a decent buy in some regards on some machines for some people.
    The whole – you can use a USB key to easily copy setup is a little 90s as well. How about just signing the thing into a management console and having it come in line? Who wants to carry a USB key to potentially hundreds of computers?
    If it works then maybe it will finally be a lever for MS app store. That’s been a somewhat shambling mess since the whole affair began.
    End of the day I trust Google with my security more than Microsoft. And I bet Windows snooping on you and potentially sharing what they find with ‘Trusted Partners’ isn’t among the bits removed.

  6. MS has talked before about wanting a version of their OS that only runs apps from their store (so they get a cut from every software purchase). Something that specifically is not backwards compatible with all of the existing x86 software out there (like that disaster they called Windows RT).

    Whether 10S is okay or terrible depends on what limitations and restrictions exist on “you can switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro at any time”. Is this like an admin password to temporarily get into full Windows? Or is this just a stripped down version of Windows that lets you pay them money to upgrade to real Windows?

    And that’s the real concern, that 10S is just Windows Lite with everything disabled. And if you ever want to do anything outside of their little box, “Please pay $99.99 to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.”

  7. They used “S” because it is the letter between “R” and “T”?

  8. Sounds good. Can this be installed on older cheap (Intel z3537) tablets running Windows to improve performance?

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