Windows 10 S is Microsoft's answer to Chrome OS

By Tom Warren
John Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft is introducing a new version of Windows 10 today: Windows 10 S. It's essentially Microsoft's answer to Chrome OS, to simplify Windows for low-end hardware and in particular the education market. "Everything that runs on Windows 10 S is downloaded from the Windows Store," says Microsoft's Windows chief Terry Myerson. That doesn't mean that desktop apps won't run on this version of Windows 10, but they'll need to be specially packaged and listed in the Windows Store.

During a demonstration on stage, Myerson showed off the ability to support peripherals and devices just like regular Windows 10. "Windows 10 S will run any browser in the Windows Store," says Myerson, hinting that if Google is willing to list Chrome in the Store then it will be available on devices that run Windows 10 S. Without Chrome, Microsoft has obviously focused on its Edge browser and in particular education sites and web apps.

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Microsoft has also tweaked how the login process works on Windows 10 S. Windows 10 S will take around 15 seconds to be ready for a student to login and use for the first time, a faster process than what's currently available on Windows 10 Pro, says Microsoft. Other improvements include the ability to setup machines using a USB drive with preconfigured options. Windows 10 S will simply detect the key and customize all settings ready for a school.

Microsoft is really aiming this at the education market, and its goal with Windows 10 S is to have a wide range of PC partners creating devices that run this new variant of Windows 10. Devices will start at $189 this summer, and all machines will ship with a free subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition. Windows 10 S will also be free for all schools that are currently running Windows 10 Pro PCs, and include free Office 365 education with Microsoft Teams. If you purchase a device running Windows 10 S then you'll also be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to enable all desktop apps to run like normal.