At Microsoft’s education event this week we received an interesting vision of an education/consumer product and operating system. The announcement isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but it certainly seems to be a step in the right direction.
Windows 10S was the most anticipated part of this event. All tech media outlets kept leaking that Microsoft was going to announce its competitor to Chrome OS that powers the successful Chromebook lineup.
The “s” in Windows 10S is likely supposed to stand for “student”, but personally I’d argue it stands for “shitty”. What differentiates it from regular Windows is that you can only run apps found in the Windows App store (currently not that many) and you have to use Microsoft’s Edge browser as well as Microsoft’s Bing search (yes you can’t change the default search to Google like everyone does). That’s it.
I personally wouldn’t ever want to use that operating system, but from a strategy perspective it does a couple of important things that I think are really smart.
First and foremost it takes a page out of Apple's book and forces an ecosystem on people whether they want it or not. In the beginning this may be a little user hostile, but ultimately it’ll force developers to actually create AND consistently support applications through the Windows App Store (which they 100% have not). This is important for Microsoft because within a couple years it’ll help develop an ecosystem on the Windows App Store (finally).
Second this is important because it will finally give Microsoft the control they’ve needed in the Windows ecosystem. Think about a Windows computer from a corporate office and how after only 2-3 years it has all kinds of garbage apps installed on it that you don’t want in your face at all times. That can be remedied by the move to Windows 10S, so that Microsoft can create a more streamlined environment similar to iOS and Android.
Furthermore, if you don’t like Windows 10S apparently you’ll be able to upgrade to full-fledged Windows 10 Pro by paying a $50 upgrade fee.
The other interesting part of the announcement was the Surface Laptop. It’s a beautiful new laptop from Microsoft with no tablety features/gimmicks like the other Surface machines. This is kind of what users have been wanting for some time now.
It’s beautifully machined, comes in a few colors, has a beautiful fabric on the inside, and of course is touchscreen.
There’s really nothing revolutionary about it, but it’s a beautiful product that starts at $1,000 to compete with the Macbook line.
Because of it’s lack of pro specs, it’s clearly aimed at soon-to-be college students, and casual laptop users. The $1,300 configuration is actually decently more powerful than the Macbook line, and in my opinion, it looks much more interesting too.
This is a smart move by Microsoft because many people simply wanted a decent Windows option for a laptop. That’s been hard to find in a market saturated with expensive Pro or cheapo budget laptops. This seems to be one of the few that hits a sweet-spot.
It’s also refreshing because finally Microsoft delivered what we (tech nerds) wanted. A regular laptop without a tablety gimmick like the Surface Book with it’s awful hinge and awkward gap between the keyboard and screen.
I can’t see this thing selling like gangbusters, but I can see it being popular on College Campuses. In a context where Chromebooks don’t seem to “do enough” and Macbooks are extremely overpriced/underpowered, this product has a chance to shine.
Windows 10S for now will probably be the butt of jokes, but in a few years it has the potential to help the Windows ecosystem get the growth & control it needs to make it’s experience a great one. Even if Windows 10S itself doesn’t have a lot of users outside of education, it’ll help Windows ecosystem as a whole by bolstering the Windows App Store into something to be taken seriously.