What is Windows 10 S? All you need to know about Microsoft’s Chrome OS rival

Microsoft has finally unveiled Windows 10 S (or Windows 10S, if you prefer) – here’s everything you need to know about the new Chrome OS rival, including the latest information on when you might be able to download Windows 10 S.

Windows 10 S is a stripped-down version of Microsoft’s main desktop operating system, designed for schools. It’s set to feature on a range of third-party devices, as well as the new Surface Laptop.

This new OS features a simplified, redesigned home screen and takes a similar strategy to Google’s Chrome OS. Windows 10 S is significantly more locked down than the normal version of Windows 10 and will only let students install applications from the central Windows Store.

The move is designed to stop students installing malicious software, but will also stop schools from taking advantage of freeware applications such as GIMP, a popular free alternative to Photoshop.

Microsoft hasn’t revealed Windows 10 S’s system requirements but has confirmed it will run on “the full range of Windows 10 hardware, from the Surface Book to cheap laptops.”

Asus, Acer, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Fujitsu are creating Windows 10 S devices which will launch “in the coming months,” with pricing starting at $189 (~£146).

Related: Windows 10 S laptops

Can I download Windows 10 S?

Teachers will be able to update any Windows 10 Pro device to Windows 10 S free of charge. The OS will also come with a free one-year subscription to Minecraft Education Edition. Microsoft Office 365 and Intune for Education will also be free with Windows 10 S.

However, it’s not clear at present if Microsoft will make Windows 10 S available for download, or if it will stay tied to specific device, at least for the launch period.

The latter case seems likely, as Windows 10 S wasn’t previously available to beta testers via the Windows Insider Program to the best of our knowledge.

After the initial Windows 10 S hardware rollout, though, that could well change.

We’d be rather surprised if Microsoft didn’t offer its new operating system to a wider range of Windows devices at some point, as lightweight software brings a number of benefits, especially on the battery life front.

The option to dual-boot Windows 10 and Windows 10 S would be particularly intriguing and could curry Microsoft a fair bit of favour.

We’ve reached out to Microsft for clarification and will update this article with any additional information we’re able to glean.

What are your first thoughts on Windows 10 S? Let us know in the comments below – and check back regularly as we’ll be updating this article with more details as they become available.

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