Microsoft’s Windows has become the ubiquitous operating system for computers since the first version was released commercially in 1985 to compete with Apple’s “classic” Mac OS. It has solidified itself as monarch of the desktop space, but these days, the desktop space has seen some competition from other sectors. Statistics show that mobile devices have begun to supplant desktops as the primary way in which we cruise the internet, and tablets, while not the game changer that some were expecting them to be, have also cut into the PC market. Microsoft has always attempted to defend its territory by entering these intrusive markets, but while the Windows Phone didn’t quite take off, the Surface Tablet is having greater success.
One market that Microsoft has yet to compete in is the one dominated by Google’s Chrome OS; low-cost, limited functionality operating systems aimed at a specific marketplace. That’s all about to change with the introduction to Windows 10 S.
THE TEXTBOOKS OF THE FUTURE
Microsoft has positioned Windows 10 S as an alternative to Google’s Chrome OS, an operating system that has been making great headway into the educational sector. In fact, Microsoft themselves have said that education is the goal, but that might only be part of their overall ambitions.
The advantage that devices like Chromebooks provide to education is pretty easy to see. Textbooks are expensive, and they get more expensive as the years go by. For both schools and students, having to buy textbooks and later replace them with revised versions is a massive investment. A Chromebook, on the other hand, is sold to the education sector for around $250-$300CAD and they never really go out of date. Internet access is the only requirement to get the latest information and to stay up to date on classwork. There are some drawbacks, but it’s a very adaptable solution.
Microsoft hopes to get in on this market by offering their own solution with Windows 10 S. It’s a cheaper, stripped down version of their current OS to be put on cheaper, stripped down versions of their hardware. The OS will first be offered on a $999 Surface laptop, but Microsoft says they’ll begin selling alternatives for as low as $189USD.
JUST DON’T PLAN ON USING IT FOR MUCH ELSE
Of course, the trade off is that, like Chrome OS, the system is ridiculously restrictive, and it’s restrictive in the typical Microsoft fashion. You can’t download software from the internet, for starters, only through the Microsoft Store. I hope you really like Microsoft Edge, because that’s your only option for a web browser, and with it comes its even less loved partner, Bing.
Of course, you wouldn’t buy this for everyday use unless you only want a computer for Facebook and email; this is strictly a low cost system for users with specific needs. It’s likely that Microsoft intends 10 S to lead to more developers putting their software on the app store, but whether or not this strategy will pan out remains to be seen.
If you do wind up buying a system in a fire sale with 10 S on it, there’s always the option to upgrade to the full Pro version for around $50.