Windows 10 S is a variation of the well-known Windows 10 operating system optimized for schools and business users, while not being available for developers or the general public. The reason for this narrow clientele is the heavy limitations present in the OS, as it only works with applications available in the Windows Store.
However, not even Microsoft’s official app store can fully guarantee a hassle-free user experience, because some of the apps in the store don’t work properly. But sadly, there is more: browsers like Firefox or Chrome aren’t supported by Windows 10 S at all, so users stuck with this OS are forced to use Microsoft Edge – a browser still in its infancy – and search with the inferior Bing search engine.
And to top it all there is the reason why this article was born in the first place: Windows 10 S lacks system options regular Windows users can enjoy by default like PowerShell, RegEdit and many others.
Pros and Cons of Windows 10 S
The good news is that if you are not convinced by Windows 10 S, Microsoft provides you a Get Out of Jail Free card in the form of a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. This operating system has no limitations whatsoever, as the upgrade will revert all these ‘locked down configurations’ to the default ones, allowing users to install any programs from any source they please and use all apps they’re comfortable with. However, this option will be discontinued after March 31 2018, so better make that decision before that date.
With that said, don’t think for a moment that we are writing down Windows 10 S. Quite the contrary: despite its limitations, it has some advantages as well. For instance, Windows 10 S devices have a longer battery life that can last an entire day. Thanks to that the OS is perfect for schools with classes from the morning to the evening or users who hate recharging their laptops every four hours.
We also mentioned that many additional settings are unavailable on Windows 10 S, which might seem a bad move from the developers. Contrary to popular belief, system settings are present in all Windows versions, but in 10 S they just can’t be tampered with. This is actually a decent security measure implemented by Microsoft, as we all know how sensitive a computer’s registry is.
But let’s not ignore the elephant in the room: those who like to access the registry directly or add a few lines to the Command Prompt will indeed by disappointed in Windows 10 S. In fact, the entire ‘for developers’ area present in regular Windows 10 or the Pro version doesn’t even exist on 10 S.
But if we move away from more delicate areas like the registry, we can still find some pretty annoying modifications. Given that, it’s not possible to change settings to file extensions or install sideload apps. Speaking of apps, disabling the installation of applications from unknown sources may not be a bad thing, as Windows Store apps are always approved and verified by Microsoft, reducing the risk of getting a virus almost down to zero.
Now that we mention viruses, there is another ‘surprise’ related to that: Windows 10 S users have to rely on Windows Defender only, as no antivirus or registry cleaning apps are present in Windows Store. Still, this issue is nothing compared to the most annoying disadvantage of Windows 10 S, namely the fact that the OS blocks .exe apps altogether. This means that it is virtually impossible to update drivers that are not complemented in each Windows Update, like many printers and scanners.
It’s still early to tell whether Windows 10 S will be a great success or will become the next Vista. But despite its extremely limited nature, it perfectly serves its purpose. In fact, if we look at it from a security point of view, 10 S may well be one of the safest operating systems on the market due to restricting users to never leave the Microsoft-controlled world. With this limitation it is more than perfect for its target audience, namely schools and business users.
Additionally, Microsoft is dedicated to support this operating system and make it grow based on trust. All of this is proven by the fact that the company has already promised users to improve its features, so it can give proper response to questions regarding printer drivers and many other things.
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