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Windows 10

What is Windows 10 S? Is it Just Windows RT 2.0?

At a press event in NYC on May 2, Microsoft introduced Windows 10 S. Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s offering for educational institutions including for students, teachers, and staff, but its available to everyone. Though its touted now as a version for schools, Microsoft expects to see it show up on more PCs in the future.

What makes Windows 10 S different?

The main factor that separates Windows 10 S from the other editions of Windows 10 is that the ‘S’ edition only runs apps from the Windows Store. Similar to how Windows RT worked, with Windows 10 S users can only install apps that exist in the Windows Store. If a user attempts to install a non-Windows Store app, the operating system will prohibit it. The apps available in the store are vetted and secure. They run in a secure container on top of the operating system ensuring that they can’t unlawfully alter the registry or cause any undue problems for the operating environment.

You might notice that this puts Microsoft in a tough spot for its Office applications – which currently do not exist in the Windows Store. Microsoft is working on that and promised during that May 2 event that Windows Store app version are “coming soon.”

Additionally, what does this mean for Microsoft Edge? Microsoft Edge also does not exist as a Windows Store app. Apparently, that will change soon, too, as Microsoft is working on decoupling Edge from the operating system and also delivering a Windows Store version. Putting Edge in the Windows Store also gives Microsoft the ability to update it more often instead of having to wait for major updates to Windows 10.

But, keep in mind, unless Chrome and Firefox also come to the Windows Store, users running Windows 10 S will be locked-in to Microsoft Edge. On Windows 10 S, Chrome and Firefox will not run as they exist today since they are just applications that are installed from external locations. And, even when you are able to download a separate Internet browser, Microsoft says

Microsoft Edge is the default web browser on Microsoft 10 S. You are able to download another browser that might be available from the Windows Store, but Microsoft Edge will remain the default if, for example, you open an .htm file. Additionally, the default search provider in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer cannot be changed. 

One other tidbit that separates Windows 10 S from other Windows 10 editions is login time improvements. Microsoft demonstrated the quick boot times of Windows 10 S at the May 2 event. Microsoft has tweaked the operating system to ensure that students and teachers can get to work quickly, but this also shows how much a system is bogged down by manufacturer bloatware and software startup applications.

Also – and this is a big one for organizations that might want to choose to rollout Windows 10 S as a potential business platform – Windows 10 S does not support logging onto a local domain. It only supports logging on to an Azure AD domain.

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