Microsoft continues on its march to become the blue version of Apple, integrating software and hardware into its core business. It’s now revealed Windows 10 S, which comes integrated in the new Surface Laptop. It’s Microsoft’s competitor to Chromebooks and other lightweight operating systems. But there are a few aspects of the new Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S that look like they’ll confuse people. Mostly because of the questionable functionality of the new version of Windows and its position in the product portfolio, and what the Surface Laptop is meant to be able to do.
Many people interested in technology will remember – but want to forget – Windows RT. That ill fated version of Windows 8 (which was kind of ill fated anyway) was meant to be the shot in the arm Microsoft needed to build up customers in the area of tablets. It didn’t work, but then again, it was competing against Windows 8 itself, which could run full x86 apps. You know, like a real computer. Windows 10 S eschews most of the limitations of Windows RT. Windows 10 S is a proper x86 version of Windows, but there are some caveats.
The main caveat is that Windows 10 S can only install and run apps that have been curated on the Windows Store. That sounds alright in theory, but most of the best and most useful programs that exist for Windows aren’t on the Windows Store. However, this would be perfect for a computer like the Surface Laptop, which is aimed at being as secure as possible for student use. Except the issue is that Microsoft is also making Windows 10 S the middle child in terms of cost between Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Professional. I scratch my head at something that could have less functionality, but more cost. Wait. I know of a few plant based devices like that.
The good news for prospective buyers is that all Windows 10 S devices – regardless of cost – can score a US$49 upgrade to Windows 10 Professional. But you don’t get an option to downgrade to Windows 10 Home. We don’t make these rules up, there are far more intelligent brains out there making these bold decisions.
Of course, we have mentioned the new Surface Laptop a few times. It is aimed at being a premium device, with its cost being US$999. It looks to be another industrial design win for Microsoft, and paired with Windows 10 S would make for a great high end learning device. It comes in four colours, platinum (silver), burgundy (red), cobalt blue and graphite gold (warm grey). It also weighs less than 1.4 kilograms. Perfect for lugging around in the school bag with the ever increasing size of textbooks. Paperless society, here we come. Inside, the Surface Laptop will run with the latest Intel Core i5 and i7 mobile processors, a battery that will last over 14 hours on a single charge and has a touch screen similar in specification and capability to the Surface Book.
The new Surface Laptop will go on sale in America on 15 June 2017, with the basic version selling for US$999. Expect that to end up being AU$1,500 once we pay all our taxes. Windows 10 S will start shipping with cheaper hardware in the Australian winter, which is really quite soon. Devices from third party manufacturers for Windows 10 S will start at US$189, which means we might get stuff from about AU$400 whenever they arrive.