What is Windows 10 S?

On May 2, Microsoft introduced their newest version of Windows, Windows 10 S. How is it different from Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro?

Windows 10 S is a “streamlined” version of Windows intended, theoretically, for lower-end hardware. It will only run apps from the Windows Store, and will NOT run classic mode Windows programs – meaning things like Photoshop, Premiere, and the vast majority of the applications you’re used to running just won’t work, at least for now.

The theory was originally that Windows 10 S would be well-suited for applications similar to the Chromebook, such as in the educational market. That theory doesn’t seem to hold water, though, since Microsoft will be installing it by default on their starts-at-$1,000, upholstered-keyboard Surface Laptop.

Our belief is that, unfortunately, that Windows 10 S unnecessarily fragments the market. If this new version of Windows only came on super-low-end, educational-market equipment, it would make sense, but when it’s coming on $1,000 laptops, there’s going to be some confused consumers out there that won’t know what hit them when they can’t install their favorite software.

In short, we recommend that you don’t seek out Windows 10 S unless you’re looking for a sub-$250, simple-use-case device for email, internet, or educational needs – i.e., unless you were considering a Chromebook. In which case, you’re probably better off with a Chromebook.