Why Microsoft's Windows 10 S should be free

Windows 10 Wallpaper
Windows 10 Wallpaper (Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 10 S is a new edition of Windows 10 that looks and feels just like any other edition of Windows 10, but with one major difference: Windows 10 S is locked to the Windows Store, meaning if you want to download an app or a game, it needs to come from the official Windows Store.

This is a huge limitation for many people. The Windows Store is still pretty bare when it comes to apps and games, and although it's improving, it's still not "full" of the apps that people want and need. Google Chrome, for example, isn't in the Windows Store. Neither is Photoshop, or Premiere Pro, or XSplit, or Steam. There's a lot missing, so the limitations of Windows 10 S are a problem for some.

However, Windows 10 S isn't designed for people who use those kinds of apps. Windows 10 S is meant for use by schools, students, and Chromebook users, consumers or otherwise. There's also a lot of people who will want to use Windows 10 S based on its security enhancements alone, thanks to the fact that rogue Win32 programs can't be installed on devices. You can't buy Windows 10 S on its own, so you'll have to buy it preloaded on specific hardware.

From the forums: Should Windows 10 S ship with ALL Windows laptops?

Free Windows 10 S is good for Microsoft and users

And this is where I feel Microsoft should change its strategy slightly. Bundling Windows 10 S onto hardware is fine, but not allowing people to download and use it for themselves is a bad idea. Microsoft is missing out on something big here. I strongly believe Microsoft should make Windows 10 S a "free-to-use" version of Windows 10 that anyone can download and install.

And it's not like Microsoft would lose money if it did this. With Windows 10 S being locked to the Windows Store, users looking to download and use Windows 10 S would be required to use the Store for everything anyway. Microsoft takes a cut of everything purchased in the Windows Store, so it would make money back via services built into Windows.

What's more, offering Windows 10 S as a free version of Windows gives more people an incentive to try out the OS and get familiar with the ecosystem. If after a while they like it, they can upgrade to the "full" version of Windows 10 (a.k.a. Windows 10 Pro) for whatever Microsoft decides to charge.

This way, more users will engage with the Store, and as a result, more developers will want to build apps for distribution via the Windows Store. It's a win-win situation.

I honestly feel like Microsoft should release a free version of Windows 10. It'd encourage new users to try it out, and hopefully boost engagement with the Windows Store.

What do you think? Is this a good idea or something that will never happen? Or both? Let us know.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads