Update: Microsoft has finally revealed the long-rumored Windows 10 Cloud, but the official name differs from what was expected. Click here for information on how to livestream the Windows 10 S event right now!
Microsoft officially pulled off the curtain on its oft-leaked and already-tested lightweight version of Windows 10 on May 2. Originally expected to be called Windows 10 Cloud, it was instead simply named Windows 10 S.
The company issued invites to the press early last month, and TechRadar was in attendance to provide the latest news and impressions from its New York City briefing starting at 9:30am ET (6:30am PT, 2:30pm BT, 11:30pm ACT).
In the leadup to the proceedings, however, the enthusiast press has enjoyed several leaks – even full builds have gotten into the blogs’ hands, purportedly. So, there was a lot to go on regarding speculation of what Windows 10 S could be ahead of its big showing.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A new, lightweight version of Windows 10
- When is it out? May 2, 2017
- What will it cost? Free to all schools using Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 S release date
Windows 10 S released on May 2. This announcement made sense as Microsoft’s event invitation cleverly pointed toward cloud cover in a cute illustration, and the event itself was titled “#MicrosoftEDU”.
Microsoft anticipated that attendees and viewers would use the hashtag when talking about the news on social media, but we also predicted that it could speak to the release date of Windows 10 S.
School sessions in the US generally end in late May to early June and begin again in late August to early September. It’s no coincidence that Windows 10 S will heavily be focused on the education sector, where Google’s Chromebooks are currently ruling the roost.
With an event name like that, it would have made sense for Microsoft to make Windows 10 S available at the start of the 2017 school season. While that’s not the case, the company says that Windows 10 S-equipped PCs will arrive in the next few months.
Windows 10 S price
Windows 10 S won’t cost a dime. Well, not to schools sporting Windows 10 Pro already, that is. The cost of the OS is, more than likely, being subsidized by hardware makers in its pricing while sponsored software deals probably exist as well.
As Windows 10 S is competing directly with Chrome OS, Google’s operating system for its Chromebook platform, it makes sense to use the same business model. Google doesn’t sell that OS individually for customers to install on machines themselves. As such, Microsoft has followed suit.
In short, you won’t be paying for Windows 10 S so as much as you’ll pay for the hardware running it (with whatever Microsoft’s charging its partners, if anything, to license the software baked in that price somehow, too).
The laptops running Windows 10 S will start at $189 (£146, AU$251 when they arrive in the next few months. Premium category laptops will also be joining the Windows 10 S family, though no pricing information on those has been confirmed at this time.
What is Windows 10 S?
As we said, Windows 10 S is a more lightweight, pared down version of Windows 10. Specifically, the OS can only support apps downloaded from Microsoft’s Windows Store and those already baked into the OS.
We know this based on an early “preview” of a leaked Windows 10 S build from Windows Central. However, a Digital Trends hands-on report refutes this, showing screenshots of a Windows 10 S build that allows for users to toggle the “install apps from anywhere” setting within the Settings app. However, the setting was buggy as all get out, leading to doubt as to whether the finished product will allow for this functionality.
Hopefully, this is a point of contention to be answered at the Windows 10 S event starting sometime after 9:30am ET this morning.
This talk of a version of Windows that can only download Microsoft-approved apps is familiar, isn’t it? It sounds a lot like Microsoft believes to have mastered this approach since the turbulent days of Windows RT and Windows 8 with Bing – both of which tried to position Microsoft as the sole provider of apps through curation.
What can you expect to see included in laptops and/or tablets running Windows 10 S? Well, the Edge browser, OneNote and Windows Ink should all be givens. The standard Movies and Groove Music apps, as well as niceties like Maps and Mail and Calendar are shoo-ins, too. (Oh, and Cortana!)
Finally, it would behoove Microsoft to devise some sort of decent free version of Office for these devices, otherwise its target audience will just go with the Chromebook – replete with Docs, Sheets and Slides – at Best Buy instead.
Now, here’s to hoping that Microsoft throws in some free OneDrive cloud storage with the purchase of a device running this new OS, as we shouldn’t expect much onboard and that’s just what Google does for Chromebook buyers.
If Microsoft has pulled off all of those feats, with the relative openness of Windows 10 (even in this state) to Chrome OS, it may very well have a winner on its hands with Windows 10 S. Stay tuned to this space as news develops going into, during and following Microsoft’s big event.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article