Microsoft today took the wraps off its latest branch of Windows, with Windows 10 S now a real thing and apparently aimed squarely at the education market.

In fact, Microsoft’s intentions with Windows 10 S are clear, and that is to provide true competition for Google’s ChromeOS platform on which so many educational computers currently run.

According to Microsoft one of the key differences for Windows 10 S is the fact that it will only run apps that are downloaded via the company’s own Windows Store, whereby other versions of Windows can obviously install apps from third-parties at the discretion of users. This may seem like a limitation on the face of it, but it does make Windows 10 S particularly suited to working in an educational environment. “Everything that runs on Windows 10 S is downloaded from the Windows Store”, says Microsoft’s Windows chief Terry Myerson, and that is key.

The new version of Windows may be locked down, but it does support accessories and peripherals in the same way “normal” a normal Windows powered-PC does, and “Windows 10 S will run any browser in the Windows Store”, according to Myerson. That means that yes, users will be able to install the likes of Google Chrome if the search-engine giant brings its browser to the portion of the Windows Store specifically catering to Windows 10 S machines.

Other changes that are well suited for use in schools include a faster log-in sequence, down to around 15 seconds according to Microsoft, and support for configuration of machines to be carried out via a USB stick – Windows 10 S will detect the stick and customize itself accordingly.

Microsoft hopes that its partners will jump on board, with devices selling for $189 this coming summer. All Windows 10 S computers will ship with a free subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition and Windows 10 S itself will be free for schools that are already equipped with machines that are running on Windows 10 Pro. The full package also includes Office 365 education with Microsoft Teams for free, so students will have something to work on when not playing Minecraft.

Additionally, computers running Windows 10 S will be able to run desktop-only apps that are download off of the Windows 10 Store, for a nominal fee. Those looking to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro in the future would also be able to do so easily, but of course, for a price.

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