You may have seen headlines today about an announcement by Microsoft for a new operating system called Windows 10 S, and wondered, "Say what???!! Is this something I need???"
Since I figure that most people won't read past the headlines, I figure that I'd chime in with some basic explanations. Please know that I don't know all that much about it, haven't seen it, and have questions myself. But that aside, here we go --
The simplest answer: Windows 10 S has value, and no, you don't need it. For most people, you can stop reading right here. But if you want to know more, read on, MacDuff.
To explain what Windows 10 S is in a bit more detail than that... -- it's a version of Windows 10 that offers more security, ease of updating and fewer options, mainly made to compete in the low-end systems for the education market. There are other uses for it, but the education market (which is right now ruled by Chromebooks) is the Holy Grail.
Why it's so secure and easy to upgrade is because Windows 10 S requires that a user ONLY get its system's software downloaded from the Windows Store. Everything is checked there for security, and so you know that anything downloaded from it is safe. And this also allows the software there to be automatically updated and pushed to the users systems. If this sounds draconian, though protective, keep in mind that in many ways this is like how the Apple Store operates.
There are a great many apps in the Windows Store now, but many programs that aren't. Microsoft offers third-party developers software that eases conversion of their apps so that they will fit in the Windows Store, so the number of programs that exist will grow. But there will still be major programs that aren't available. At the moment, for instance, the Chrome browser and Quicken don't exist in the Windows store. Microsoft's own Edge browser is the default browser in Windows 10 S, and is basically set to remain the default browser. Though if Chrome adapts its browser for the Windows Store, then it will at least be available.
If this sounds like Windows RT, that misguided effort from Microsoft...in many ways, it is like Windows RT. Though with improvements. More on that in a moment.
A few random thoughts based on very little information about Windows 10 S, and a great deal of ignorance about the education market:
This seems a poorly named product. While I personally like the clean name, I think most consumers will be bewildered by it.
Despite Microsoft’s insistence to the contrary at the launch of the product, it seems like this is of value almost solely to the education market. That’s not inherently a bad thing at all, but it seems like Microsoft should be more forthright about it – not as a matter of honesty, but rather because of marketing and clarity.
Windows 10 S seems like a great concept that’s incredibly limited to most of the public, and until there are more apps in the Windows store – most-especially including the Chrome browser – it is indeed (despite the different name) Windows RT.
Having said that, being Windows RT today doesn’t appear to be the problem it was when Windows RT was introduced. At that point, Microsoft put out two near-identical products (Windows 8 and Windows RT), each of which were very different from what was then the norm, while each being similar to one another. It totally confused the public. Today, however, Windows 10 is pretty well-established, so introducing a new piece of software based on it seems less a confusing issue. It will still be confusing, but not at the monumental level that Windows RT was.
Because I don’t know the education market very well, the value of creating this product has me scratching my head somewhat, but since I accept that the education market must be massive, I can see value if they handle it right (see above…) and get more apps in the Windows 10 store.
But again, for most people, you can totally, completely, utterly ignore it. It's not meant for you.
If you want to read more about Windows 10 S from a much more knowledgeable standpoint -- yet easy to follow in human English -- I pass along two articles about it by my friend and Windows maven Ed Bott, who writes for ZDNet and wrote the official Microsoft book on using Windows 10.
This article here is "What is Windows 10 S."
And this article by Ed here looks into why Microsoft developed the software to compete with Chromebooks in the education market.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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