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Microsoft announces Windows 10 S, a version of the OS that's tied to the Windows Store

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

Windows 10 S is Microsoft's newest edition of Windows 10, with one specific change over previous, "normal" editions of Windows 10. This new edition of Windows 10 is locked to the Windows Store for all your apps and games, meaning if you want to install apps on Windows 10 S, you can only do so if said apps are available in the Store to begin with.

This new edition of Windows 10 is actually aimed primarily at schools and the education market. It's more secure, since the ability to run app from outside the Store isn't possible. Because of this, you should hopefully see a minor battery life enhancement too, as users won't be able to go and download battery intensive Win32 apps unless they're in the Store.

Yes, that does mean Windows 10 S can run your traditional Win32 programs as well as more modern UWP apps. Windows 10 S isn't a "lite" version of Windows 10. It's a full, standard version of Windows with the only difference being the fact that in order to install apps, they must come from the Windows Store.

But Windows 10 S being locked to the Windows Store isn't a be-all, end-all scenario. If needed, users can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro directly from a Windows 10 S installation. This does cost you, but not as much as it would upgrading from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro. The upgrade only costs $49.99 for normal users, which is a huge deal.

What's more, if you're a student, you can actually do the upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for free. So if you really do need to run Win32 programs on hardware that came bundled with Windows 10 S, you can do so.

Windows 10 S won't be an edition of Windows 10 you find on store shelves, and for most power users it won't be something they encounter often. It will, however, be the version of Windows found on devices that are designed to tackle Chromebooks, mostly at the low-end of the market. That doesn't necessarily mean you won't find it on some high-end hardware. You've got high-end Chromebooks, so you'll likely also get high-end Windows 10 S devices too.

Chromebooks are now a big deal in the education sector, and as mentioned above, Windows 10 S is designed primarily for that market. So seeing Windows 10 S on mostly Chromebook competitor hardware won't be much of a surprise. Keep it locked to Windows Central for more regarding the new Windows 10 S edition!

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

73 Comments
  • The full suite of desktop Office apps is coming to the store "soon"
    Soon? Really! 
  • Soon(TM)
  • Soon™... FTFY
  • sometimes MS needs to borrow some Apple's way.. announcing something, specially software, to be available as soon it is announced... Soon(TM) continues...... smh
  • Microsoft needs to ban the word 'soon' from all its announcements and press briefings, right now.
  • Locked to the store.
    Locked to the windowscentral for more
  • Lots of locks!... It'll be hacked after it's release.
  • So if it's essentially Windows 10 Home locked to the Store - meaning it has support for x86 and all the backend for Win32 - is it really going to be more battery/processor efficient than the same system running 10 Home? By still including the legacy support, it seems the operating system would still have the same storage/power requirements.
  • My only thought on that is without the programs actually running, they aren't taxing the battery. The infrastructure isn't what drains the battery, as much as it is the programs themselves. Kind of like free, ad supported apps on your phone have been found to drain your battery faster than paid, non-ad supported ones. If they aren't installed, they aren't draining your battery.
  • That's true from a processing/battery perspective. But the OS still needs all that support, meaning it requires extra disk space, which raises the cost, etc. 
  • I'd say you are oversimplifying. Although it does depend on what we're comparing with of course. For example, consider the list of Windows Services that are launched when Windows starts (this is just one example). Those are dozens or even hundreds of background tasks. W10M has none of them. They don't run for free. Furthermore, any software you install can add services to that list, and the OS places no restrictions on how often they run or on how computationally expensive they may be. You are right. If it's not running it doesn't make a difference. It's just that there are literally hundreds of things running on any Win32 system. It's just not all presented to you upfront in the task manager. The services that ship with Windows are well behaved, but that can't be said of all services. That's one of the reasons W10M exists in the first place. It's intended to get a handle on those types of sticky situations. It's those types of things that differentiate a real mobile OS from a desktop OS. While Win32 doesn't necessarily have to be a disaster on small and very power limited devices, it can be. It depends on what people install. Win32 simply has not control over it. Of course, pretty much none of the software written for Win32 knows or cares about the power, thermal and computational limitations placed on mobile devices. The devices such software was expected to run on was assumed to be plugged in or have large batteries. Nothing MS does can change that. That's probably the bigger issue.
  • Well, that's a reversal. Remember when the goal of Windows 10, according to Microsoft, was to cut down on multiple unnecessary Windows SKUs, confusing consumers and businesses?  How many versions of Windows 8 were there? And now here we go again; Microsoft just can't help themselves.
  • So, if it's just the full version of W10, then it doesn't solve the problems that Chromebooks do: 1) Fast boot/load/shutdown...just open the cover and start working...when you're done close the cover. 2) invisible updates (this is BIG...don't underestimate how easy this makes home and school use) 3) Expectations - Chromebooks don't pretend to be anything other than what they are...they're not a slimmed down version of anything.  I think W10S will be as frustrating as Windows RT was.
  • Yeah, this is basically a re-launch of Windows RT with a new coat of paint. We all know how that worked out the first time....
  • With exception that RT couldn't be upgraded.... No way out!
    Oh.. And that it can also run win32 apps.
  • But then, upgrading to full Windows 10 makes the whole thing moot and besides the point.
  • ^ THIS what is the advantage of any of this!!!! when my district goes to buy these devices, they are gonna see that much of the software we rely on is not in the store, so then they will be "free upgraded"? to Win10Pro? Then why do any of this at all? The only people who would pay for the upgrade aren't students, and students/adminstrators are going to quickly realize that being locked to the store is not going to work, so who wants this at all?????
  • Its Microsoft, so you shouldn't expect logic to play a role here. Bottom line is this makes for some cheap devices for normal users that will then upgrade them to Pro for $50, instead of more for Home->Pro move.    
  • I guess you're not watching the live stream. This article has left out a lot of details regarding what you wrote, especially point 1.
  • My bad...that's great news if they're making W10 load and shut down faster.  Anything on how it handles updates?
  • SSD vs Standard HDD makes a HUGE difference in boot/load/shutdown times in windows 10. My Samsung SSD 950 boots in seconds and resumes instantly when I open my laptop. I don't think any Chrombooks have a standard HDD which is why you see that difference.
  • There were a few Chromebooks, back in the early days of them, that ran on spinny hard drives.  As expected, performance was limited. I agree, though, about the difference SSD makes.  I'm never going back to one in my own systems.
  • Yup, the Acer C710. I still have one with a 320 GB hard drive. It's not that slow. Lots of room if you want to put Linux on it. 
  • Agree, and even flash vs. SSD makes a difference. My laptop with 8GB RAM and an SSD boots and resumes very quickly, but my tablet with 2GB RAM and 32GB flash storage is about as close to instant on and off as you can get. Both are Windows 10 Pro.
  • I am TOTALLY locked to windows central for #MicrosoftEDU #Build2017 #MicrosoftAllGodDamnMay
  • It's your locky day.....🔒
  • THIS. "If needed, users can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro directly from a Windows 10 S installation. This does cost you, but not as much as it would upgrading from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro. The upgrade only costs $49.99 for normal users, which is a huge deal."
  • Thats probably the only good thing about Windows 10 Shit;
  • MS used chrome load and boot times as targets to meet for windows s. So presumably the OS itself is also slimmed down. With the power to run win32's and office coming to uwp, _free_ upgradeability for students, pen and touch support, really this is a no brainer. Should be a fun month with all these announcements!
  • You do not have to slim down the OS in order to get instant switch-on times. Windows RT being the best example for this as it could be put into connected standby for about a week. The issue in the past was the Intel CPUs in conjuction with Windows, which were draining the batteries like crazy in standby.
  • Too bad the Windows Store sucks
  • Which isn't a problem for the education market.
  • So education market is a dumb market?!
  • Yes it IS!!! When districts see that the monitoring software that they use isn't a store app, then they will "upgrade" making the whole thing moot!!!
  • Will 10s be able to download necessary software from websites, in the way RT couldn't? I'm thinking of things like Garmin Express which us Garmin users need..
  • No, it will be locked to the Store. 
  • Go check out the live blog guys, its got loads on windows s. Cheapest new windows s device $189. Teams sounds _REALLY_ useful (working with students and teachers online together, teachers following projects as the students type, give direct guidance, video conferencing). Brings STEM classes to the store. Using minecraft to teach coding. Configure PCs in less than 30 seconds via USB. 15 seconds to log in and load apps versus 40 on pro. Teachers can unlock to Windows 10 Pro to install any app if/when they need it (being is free for students). Okay, this is looking competitive, this is a real push.
  • This is just going to be Windows Mobile all over again. Ecosystems from Google and Apple have been in place in schools too long to get many to switch over. My kids are deep into Google apps and their chrome books. Our school district has been using Google services for quite a few years.I just don't see school districts changing ecosystems that easily.
  • All your assumptions are based on the US, i guess you know other places exist apart from the US?
  • People outside the US used Windows Phones at higher numbers too, how did that work out? Their presentations were disproportionately focused on US schools. I don't think it's a false assumption that they somehow think US schools are going to suddenly embrace Microsoft. They are how many years behind Google and Apple already. It's too late.
  • Actually Apple is in third. Over the last couple years claims have shifted more from apple to Google more than Microsoft to Google
  • But they have already seen whole districts move from google to Microsoft classroom
  • "My kids are deep into Google apps and their chrome books." That is as much the parents doing as the schools. If you want your kids to know how to use a real PC its up to you and not relying on a stupid school that saw googles $$$ and took it over proving valuable knowlege that kids need about software and PCs that they will have to use at work one day.    
  • SInce you made an assumption about me and my family I am going to make an assumption about you. Number one you are full of it and number two I bet you are not a parent. My kids each have a Windows 10 PC that I built for them and my oldest has a Surface Book in addition to her PC. They each have a chrome book from thier school that they are required to bring with them every day to every class with the exception of gym. Almost all their assighnments are on the chrome book and they exclusively use Google apps and Google storage for everything.  Documents that they started on Google Docs in school do not translate well to Microsoft Office. We have tried and just gave up using Microsoft Office products for their school assignments, it was much easier to stick with the Google apps. All standardized testing required is done through their individual Chromebooks in the classroom. You must have no idea how modern classrooms work now. My kid's chromebook is the textbook we used to have.  Unless Microsoft is going to throw money at these school districts, just like Google did, I just don't see a huge switch to Windows 10 S. 
  • Well put; Glad that you at least gave a swith to MS at home a try.
  • I work at a local school district in the US and from what I can tell they are very much in the Apple hardware and google apps category, however we are switching to office365/onedrive this fall so that is exciting!
  • Same here. My university was full of Macs and Google Apps but this year they replaced all the Macs with Windows 10 Enterprise PCs (from HP) and Office 365. You wouldn't believe how happy that made the students including me. A real PC and a real office suite!
  • Looks like a device I would buy for my kids. They can do homework and get games from the store, but I can control content based on the Family settings.
    No worries about that crap they downloaded and installed this time and messed everything up again.
    I like it.
  • Can't you already do this with full Windows and family controls?
  • Yes and no. Currently they still can install Win32 apps they find somewhere online. With this OS, I would expect that's a no-go and I know that everything installed came from the store.
    Too early to say, but that should also make it super resistant to malware and stuff like that, if an exe simply doesn't execute anymore.
  • You should not be limiting your kids; give them a full unlocked PC if you want them to explore and learn on their own. Sure they might screw some stuff up, but thats all part of the learning process. If the PCs I grew up on were this limited or had some ridiculous parental controls I wouldn't know half the stuff about PCs I do now. Even better let you kids build their own PC that way they will also learn about the hardware, sure help them out a bit, but a 10yo can do it without any issues and will learn a lot more then any book or school teacher can teach them.  
  • So is this the official name of Windows 10 Cloud?
  • Think I'll wait for Windows U(nlimited)*
  • Another Windows RT ****
  • Nope, it can run Win32 apps in the store as well and you can pay to have the Windows Pro version upgrade and install anything. Very different from Windows RT which was just apps built for ARM processors.
  • Hopefully this gets developers onboard porting apps to uwp or even just using centennial. I really like how the store handles installing applications instead of running installers like old win32 programs. I get that developers who are open source don't necessarily want to put time and resources into building a store app. But the desktop app converter is so simple!
  • Like with Chrome OS, I strongly disapprove of the use of these stripped down OS's for education use. It's so limited. Back when I was in high school, all the computers and laptops we had were running Windows 7 Enterprise and as a result, students had so many more opportunities to learn essential skills with industry software like AutoCAD, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, Visual Studio, Eclipse, and so on. But now none of that is possible with these stripped down OS's. I feel like students are being deprived of their potential with this. Just give them laptops with Windows 10 Pro or some other enterprise edition of Windows.
  • Windows 10 S = Windows 10 Soon. Next best thing is always around the corner.
  • Windows 10 Shit©
  • 😆
  • I just got the Samsung Plus chromebook and couldn't be happier. Nice buttery smooth with zero typical windows problems.
  • only runs store apps ??? The store is barren...that is the problem here.
  • My ThinkPad I paid $129 as a demo unit @11.6 inches boots fast and comes out of sleep instantly and runs some older games well. I will keep what I have. KB is great too. When it was new they got 8-11 hours of battery...Its a keeper.
  • Nice strategy against Chrome OS growing popularity.  OEMs will soon realize that Windows 10 S is much more better for productivity in schools and stop shipping chromebooks and use Windows 10 S instead on new hardware.
  • ... maybe
  • Can I install it on my Dell XPS 13???
  • I was actually wondering on "converting" W10S to somethin else, glad that was mentioned here. $50 isnt' a bad price, if the initial hardware prices are low. If I coudl get a decently priced laptop, then throw $50 to get W10 on it properly, it'd be an interesting proposition.
  • Glad they ditched the name "cloud" (which was stupid) for a simpler one. S... Small? Short? Silly?
  • I think they launched Windows 10 S too early. They should've waited for the following: 1. Windows 10 on ARM (price will be drastically reduced) 2. Control panel completely merged into settings app to reduce the legacy junk that Windows 10 still has and thus making the OS cleaner and lighter. 3. Project Neon out of the box would've made Windows 10 S more interesting. That's all my opinion. I think this would've worked out for MS even better and would've made more sense. :)
  • The other market that this will be great for the the non-tech-savvy grandparent demographic. Less chance of them getting infected.
  • I think school kids will be soon turning off this OS when they can't find their favourite apps in the store.
    I am now thinking MS should just do some type of deal with Google or Apple to let Windows users install apps in their stores. At this rate we'll have to install Android VM's on Windows to access anything worthwhile in the world of apps.
  • These aren't toys. These would be district property. I don't think they would have a problem only using the device for school related work.
  • What if: Microsoft contributed to free software (e.g. GIMP) by getting into the store?   (please upvote it in the feedback hub) This would be a win-win situation: Microsoft could contribute to the development of free software such as GIMP, Inkscape, Audacity and Blender by packaging and getting them into the windows store, and in so doing windows would get some really powerful free apps in the store. It would be great for the community and Windows 10S, and wouldn't cost Microsoft that much.