Microsoft are about to release a trimmed-down version of Windows 10 called 10S, aimed at the Education market which up to now has been taken over by Google’s Chromebook.
Traditionally, Windows had the Education market in its hand due to its lower Academic version pricing (which was much cheaper than retail) for Windows and Windows software such as Microsoft Office. Then the Chromebook came along with its cheap price tag together with its ‘locked down’ operating system making it harder for students to cause much damage. This was ideal for school administrators who wanted to get a working computer at the lowest price, which could also be set up quickly and securely.
Windows 10S will be released on Microsoft’s Surface Laptop as well as some computers from Samsung, Toshiba, Dell and Acer in the near future, and they will be pushing these offerings to the Education sector.
There are ‘pros and cons’ with the release (as you would expect) and what is good for administrators may be cause for complaint by others.
Locked Down and Faster booting
Windows 10S will be ‘locked down’ because only apps from Microsoft and the Windows Store will be allowed to be installed, so schools can relax in the knowledge that it will be less likely for students to be able to install malicious or other unwanted software.
It has also been designed to increase battery life and have a faster boot time, which you would expect with a thinned out version of Windows.
The downside is the reduction of choice – if it isn’t a Microsoft app or in the Windows Store, it will not be available for installation, which gives Microsoft effective control on what is and isn’t used on its machines, although the Chromebook did give Google a large amount of control too.
Another downside will be that schools will no longer be able to use free alternatives to expensive software such as Photoshop, unless Microsoft allow it.
An Upgrade route will be available
The release announcement stated that it will be possible to upgrade 10S to Windows 10 Pro, at a lower price. This may be useful but at the moment we are being told that it is a one-way upgrade – once upgraded you cannot go back and of course, it will not be classroom-proof any more. You will also lose the battery and boot time advantages too.
Cheaper computers in the future…?
Clearly the Chromebook is not just for classrooms and there is a big market for public consumption of a cheaper, trimmed down operating system that lets you do everyday tasks. This is why we expect that at some point Windows 10S (or a version of it) may be available to the general public at some point, for use in the less expensive part of the market. If or when this happens we will have to see.
With Google saying that they have half of the US education market and 20 million devices in education, there is everything to play for for Microsoft. Time will tell if it pays off for them but they are certainly going to give it their best shot.