Companies like Apple have little ability to combat the Chromebook threat due to its pricing disadvantage and the usability/productivity/multi-user issues with iPads. Likewise, Windows-based PCs have also been undercut in pricing, although Microsoft has a new counterattack lying in wait: Windows 10 S.
Windows 10 S, which has previously been referred to as Windows 10 Cloud, is Microsoft’s effort to unseat Chrome OS in the education market. At its core, you will have all of the platform capabilities of the standard Windows 10 operating system including hardware/peripheral support.
Where Windows 10 S differs from other Windows 10 variants is in its app support. While Windows 10 can install/run just about any app that you can throw at it, Windows 10 S is limited to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps that are available from the Windows Store. No apps can be installed or executed unless they first past through Microsoft’s curation process.
This restriction immediately limits the number of available apps that can run on Windows 10 S. However, Microsoft is betting that the versatility of the Windows 10 platform along with attractive pricing will be enough to court school systems that have been coddled by Chrome OS.
Windows 10 S licenses will be free for schools that already use PCs running Windows 10 Pro. As for new PCs running Windows 10 S, they will start at just $189 and will come with a free subscription to Office 365 Education (with Microsoft Teams access) and Minecraft: Education Edition. Windows 10 S will also support Microsoft’s Intune cloud-based device management system, which is another shot at Google’s well-received system for Chrome OS devices.
For schools that purchase Windows 10 S PCs, and find that the app limitations are too great, Microsoft will offer the ability to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro from within the operating system — for free. If you’re an individual that purchased a Windows 10 S PC, the upgrade to Pro will cost you $50.