Back in April Microsoft announced Windows 10 S during their NYC education related event. At that time, they described Windows 10 S as being streamlined for security and superior performance.
Those attributes are possible not because this version of the Windows 10 OS is a stripped down version as many have described it but because users can only run verified Windows Store apps on the device.
That means no drive by downloads of malware or other malicious software that can impact users or system performance. However, it also means no standard Windows programs/executables are able to be used either.
In fact, Microsoft had to covert their own Office 365 suite of software to Windows Store apps so subscribers could still have access to programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Over the last few days since Microsoft made Windows 10 S available to MSDN and Visual Studio subscribers, I have been testing the apps only version of the OS on a Lenovo Miix-720. The biggest challenge I have faced up until this point is simply getting all the hardware drivers installed because those executable files can not be run on Windows 10 S either.
Now this is not the Miix-720's fault because it shipped with Windows 10 Home and the appropriate drivers optimized for that version of Windows. As hardware manufacturers bring their own Windows 10 S devices to market this will not be an issue because that new hardware will have drivers that are optimized for Windows 10 S.
In fact, today Microsoft announced that at least two OEMs now have Windows 10 S devices available via retail channels globally. The Lenovo N23 retails for $249 and their N24 is $279.
In the near future more devices will ship from OEMs with Windows 10 S pre-installed including:
-- ASUS Vivobook W202 ($279 USD), available in the US
-- Dell Latitude 3180 ($229 USD) and 3189 ($299), available in the US and Canada
-- Fujitsu LIFEBOOK P727 ($999 USD), available in the US and Canada
-- HP ProBook x360 11EE ($299 USD), available in the US, UK and Australia
However, alongside of these new hardware options, those of you in Education can now begin testing Windows 10 S on your eligible hardware as you prepare/plan for a wider roll out.
Over on Microsoft's Document portal you will find an entire article dedicated to starting this testing process.
These documents will take you through all the precautions and other caveats to testing Windows 10 S in your environment including:
-- Is intended for education customers to test compatibility with existing hardware
-- May not work with some device drivers, which may not yet be ready for Windows 10 S and may cause some loss in functionality
-- May not be compatible with all peripherals that require custom drivers and, even if compatible, may cause aspects of the peripheral to not function
-- Has software and feature limitations compared to other Windows 10 editions, primarily that Windows 10 S is limited to Store apps only
-- Will not run current Win32 software and might result in the loss of any data associated with that software, which might include software already purchased
If you can live within those limitations, then you can get started right away with your testing by upgrading to Windows 10 S on either Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Pro Education, Windows 10 Education, and Windows 10 Enterprise.
Note: Windows 10 Home can not be used because Windows 10 S will not activate on that system.
Let us know if you try Windows 10 S and what the experience is like for you.