Microsoft announced Windows 10 S back in the May, but there’s still a lot of confusion as to what it is and how it’s different from the standard Windows 10 release. In layman’s terms, Windows 10 S is a new edition of the Windows 10 OS that will sit alongside other editions — Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro — that OEMs (manufacturers) can install on their new PCs and laptops.

How does it differ from Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro editions, though? Follow along below and we’ll show you everything you need to know about this latest Windows 10 edition.

How does Windows 10 S differ?

You can picture Windows 10 S as Windows 10 Pro, almost. It has many of the extras that come with the Pro edition, but at the same time, it’s a stripped down version of the Windows 10 operating system intended for educational applications.

It’s stripped down so that security and performance are at the forefront. As such, you aren’t going to be able to download your traditional applications. With Windows 10 S, you can only download what comes from the Windows Store, otherwise known as Universal Windows Platform apps (UWP).

So, how does this help with security, exactly? Since Windows 10 S won’t be able to run the traditional desktop program, you significantly reduce the risk of installing viruses or malware of any kind on your PC. Now only that, but manufacturers can’t load up bloatware on your PC or laptop, giving you more performance.

It’s also so stripped down that you’re locked into using the Microsoft Edge browser. That is, unless Google decides to submit Chrome to the Windows Store as a UWP app, but that currently isn’t the case.

What about hardware and device support?

Device support is interesting, to say the least. Your hardware peripherals and accessories are going to work with Windows 10 S, but might have limited usage. Since Windows 10 S is stripped down, drivers and utility software can’t be installed on the system. Here’s the official word from Microsoft on that:

“Many hardware peripherals (such as printers) that work with Windows 10 today will work with Windows 10 S, but may have limited functionality.”

As far as hardware support goes, you’re going to be able to purchase a Windows 10 S laptop or PC easily Microsoft says they have at least seven PC makers who will producing machines with this specific edition of Windows 10 S, and for as little as $189, too.

Who is Windows 10 S for?

Microsoft is marketing Windows 10 S to students pretty heavily, especially with its Surface Laptop; however, when it comes down to it, Windows 10 S is a Chromebook or Chrome OS competitor.

That said, you do need to understand what you’re buying. As we previously mentioned, the only applications you’re going to be able to download have to come from the Windows Store. So, if you depend on third-party applications heavily for anything, Windows 10 S might not be for you. For example, it just won’t work well for the Web developer out there. You’re locked into the Edge browser and can’t test your code or design on any other options. Not only that, but you’re severely limited as to what you can use as far as code editors go.

Another example: the accountant. If you use any sort of special software for accounting or CPA-like work, Windows 10 S is also going to hold you back here. You’re stuck with using Excel and whatever you can grab out of the Windows Store.

When it comes down to it, Windows 10 S was designed for the average or occasional user looking for a little more performance and security out of their machine. It should work just fine for the student, too. But, for any professional aspects where you need to do more than just use the Internet, you should steer clear of Windows 10 S

Closing

The nice thing is that you can pay to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro if you don’t like Windows 10 S. Of course, that does open you up to more chances of installing malware on your system, but that shouldn’t necessarily be a problem if you’re careful on the Internet.

All in all, Windows 10 S is a great competitor to the Chromebook, bringing a whole lot more speed and security to a system. It’s worth considering, but may not be for everybody.