Microsoft – S for school.

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Windows 10 S great for schools but not for the Surface Laptop.  

  • For the education of children, Windows 10 S makes perfect sense but for college and everything else, I can’t see why anyone would want it.
  • Microsoft held an education event this week where it launched a new version of Windows 10 called Windows 10 S and a stunningly beautiful laptop called Surface Laptop.

Windows 10 S

  • The main feature of Windows 10 S is that it is locked to running apps that are available in the Windows store.
  • This allows a greater degree of security as each app will have been checked by Microsoft but also will run in its own container.
  • This has the effect of not bogging down the operating system as often happens as devices age and ensures that performance will always be crisp and quick.
  • This is ideal for the classroom where all devices should offer exactly the same performance and teachers can’t waste time waiting for the older laptops to boot or load.
  • Windows 10 S also allows the school to take complete control of the device just as enterprises do with the laptops within their organisations.
  • I see this as highly appealing to schools whose aim is educate the students rather than to offer them a good and fun user experience on the device of their choice.
  • Microsoft has also added a handy feature enabling the creation of a USB drive that can install all of the required apps, settings and permissions on a Windows 10 S device in one go.
  • This makes the set up and management of devices within a school much easier and faster.
  • The app limitations mean that Windows 10 S can run effectively on devices that compete with Chromebooks which is clearly what Microsoft is intending with this version of Windows.
  • However, outside the controlled environment of a school, I can’t see anyone willingly running this version of Windows.
  • This is because what is available in the Windows Store is a sad reflection of the wealth of software that is available for the PC.
  • If take the example of a student at university then this reality is put into sharp focus.
  • Students tend not to have a lot of spare cash and therefore will rely heavily on free software which is they are using Windows 10 S needs to be on the store.
  • Taking the top free PC software as recommended by TechRadar, I found that 3 apps were available compared to 10 that were not but of which, 2 or 3 had something similar in the store.
  • The Windows Store does not offer Google Chrome, iTunes, Google Drive or any BitTorrent clients, all which I suspect are pretty important for cash strapped students.
  • Microsoft refers to its refusal to install the software that the user wants as a “friendly popup” that directs you to something similar in the store but I suspect that almost all users who have paid for their own devices will find this utterly infuriating.
  • Hence, I think that to make Windows 10 S gain any traction outside of schools, Microsoft needs to dramatically improve the Windows Store.
  • This will take some time and hence I see virtually no traction for Windows 10 S outside of the controlled education environment for which it has mainly been designed.
  • The good news is that users can unlock the device by upgrading to Windows 10 Pro for $49.99 (free for students) but how well Windows 10 Pro will run on a $170 PC remains to be seen.

Surface Laptop

  • Microsoft also launched a beautifully designed laptop that has looks and power but with the price tag to match starting at $999.
  • Every detail has been attended and it is refreshing to see a device maker show such care and passion for a product that it has created.
  • For high end users, who are not fans of the tablet form factor, this is a great option but in that regard, it has no business whatsoever being launched with Windows 10 S.
  • This product has clearly been designed to appeal to users and hence I suspect that almost every device will be shipped to users who have paid for it themselves.
  • Furthermore, the vast majority of schools, will not be buying this product for their students but rather something much cheaper.
  • Hence, I think that to create the best possible demand for this product Microsoft should offer the option for the device to ship with a regular version of Windows at no extra charge.
  • This is because I suspect that almost everyone who buys this service will not want to be bound by the limitations of Windows 10 S.
  • I think that after paying up to $2,200 for this device being forced to pay another $50 just to run the apps that the user wants will really stick in the craw.
  • Microsoft have launched the Surface Laptop as a hero device to encourage the adoption of Windows 10 S on much cheaper devices but it makes absolutely no sense for the device itself to run this version.

Take Home Message.

  • The end result is that I like Windows 10 S for school as it will take the fight to Chromebooks which dominate the education landscape in the US.
  • This is especially the case because Office is a far better option for content creation than Google Docs but where Google has an edge is in text books.
  • Google has spent a lot of time building up a huge library of e-text books for schools and this is something that Microsoft will have to quickly replicate in the store if it wants schools to switch.
  • Furthermore, if Microsoft can win students over to Office when they are young it sets Microsoft up nicely to continue its dominance with Office as these students enter the workforce.
  • Microsoft looks better positioned in education with this release which to me looks like a very long term, but worthy investment.
  • I continue to like Microsoft which is doing very well in the enterprise and fortunately the valuation does not demand excellence in consumer, where I continue to see indecision and slow decline.


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