We first heard rumours of Windows Cloud a few months back, a stripped-down version of Windows 10 expected to take on Chrome OS and Chromebooks. On 2 May Microsoft outed Windows Cloud as Windows 10 S, which it calls the soul of today’s Windows. It will be a free upgrade for all schools on PCs running genuine Pro versions of Windows. Also see: Best budget Windows laptops and Best Chromebooks
Windows 10 S is aimed at students and teachers, and will be available on laptops priced from just $189 in time for the next school year. Its hardware partners include Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujistsu, HP, Samsung and Toshiba, though Windows 10 S will run on any laptop – from ultra-low-cost models to high-spec machines, including Microsoft’s own Surface range and the newly announced Surface Laptop. We’ll show you more details of these below – see which laptops run Windows 10 S?
Microsoft has previously experimented with cheaper versions of Windows for low-cost computers, including Windows 8 with Bing, which was in essence just Windows 8 with Microsoft Bing as the default browser, and Windows RT, which was designed for ARM processors and ran only the Modern user interface, so you couldn’t install any desktop apps.
What is the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 10 S?
The key change in Windows 10 S over standard Windows 10 is that you can download and install apps only from the Windows Store, which helps to keep the machines ultra-secure. Apps then run in a safe container that prevent them from affecting overall performance of the machine.
Microsoft says Windows 10 S laptops will offer the same performance on their first day out of the box as they do their last day of life.
If necessary, teachers can switch to Pro mode to install other apps, but children will not have this luxury. Upon attempting to install a program from an .exe file a warning pops up that says the app cannot be installed, offering alternatives within the Store.
While Windows 10 S can run any web browser found in the Windows Store, the company specifically pointed to some Microsoft Edge features that were designed with students in mind, such as annotation and sharing for research purposes.
Windows 10 S machines can support devices and peripherals in the same way as can standard Windows 10 devices including, for example, the Ohbot Arduino robot designed to help kids learn coding and VR headsets.
Windows 10 S laptops start up very quickly – in around 15 seconds – which means students can be ready to work much faster.
The settings for a group of Windows 10 S laptops can be centrally managed, allowing you to quickly make changes on every machine. Teachers can also set up a pre-configured environment in as little as 30 seconds by plugging in a USB stick to each machine.
Microsoft also announced that Office 365 Personal will be coming to the Windows Store soon, while Office 365 for Education will be free with Microsoft Teams. Microsoft InTune for Education will also be available from today, the company announced.
An added bonus for students using Windows 10 S is a one-year subscription to Minecraft Educational Edition.
What does the S stand for?
According to Microsoft, the S in Windows 10 S stands for three things:
• Streamlined for simplicity
• Superior performance
When is the Windows 10 S release date?
Microsoft says Windows 10 S will be available on new laptops from its partners this summer, which means they will be in student hands for the next school year.
How much does Windows 10 S cost?
For schools already running Windows Pro PCs the new OS is free. New laptops running Windows 10 S will be available from $189.