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Meet Windows 10 S, Microsoft’s alternative to Google’s Chromebooks

Microsoft Windows 10 S

Microsoft on Tuesday took the wraps off two new products, including a brand new laptop that leaked in all its glory a few hours before the press event, and a new version of the Windows 10 operating system. Called Windows 10 S, the new OS should be a compelling alternative to Google’s Chromebooks laptops that run Google’s own desktop OS. Among other things, Windows 10 S will be Microsoft’s way of changing education, which is a top priority for Microsoft right now.

Windows 10 S is the natural successor of Windows RT, a Windows version that only launched apps from the Windows Store, rather than traditional Windows 10 desktop apps. Windows RT had a relatively short life, but Microsoft had to revise the concept to create an OS experience that will compete against the affordable Chrome OS devices that are getting more and more popular.

The “S” in Windows 10 S supposedly stands for simplicity, but the OS won’t necessarily need new hardware to operate.

Windows 10 S will work on any device that can run Windows 10, Microsoft explained. All the apps running on the new operating system can be installed directly from the Windows Store, including Microsoft’s full Office suite that’s launching soon. Microsoft is making sure that the apps will be safe to use on Windows 10 S, the company explained. That means you won’t be able to install apps from other sources, including malicious sites that might trick users to run malware apps on their devices.

If users do want to install an app that’s not available from Windows Store, users will be able to switch between Windows 10 S and Windows 10. That’s the only way of installing essential third-party apps that don’t have any alternatives in the Windows Store.

Windows 10 S is supposed to be a faster version of Windows, ready to offer faster boot times than a regular Windows 10 build. In its demo, Microsoft said that Windows 10 S boots in about twice as fast as a regular Windows 10 installation.

The operating system lets the teacher administrator configure a Windows 10 S experience, and then install it on any laptop capable of running Windows 10 in less than 30 seconds with the help of memory stick. All you have to do is connect the flash drive to the computer, and the PC will automatically recognize the OS and customize the computer to meet the needs of the teacher.

The OS should offer the same performance on the first day of school and the last, Microsoft explained.

Microsoft will work with a variety of partners to offer Windows 10 PCs for education starting at $189, including Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba. On top of that great price, Microsoft is throwing in a free year subscription for Minecraft for education, and it’s making Office 365 free for students and teachers. Intune for Education, the app that will allow teachers to configure their Windows 10 S installations, will also become available to users.

Finally, Windows 10 S is available as a free download to schools that already have Windows 10 Pro installed on their computers.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.