Recently, Microsoft announced a new addition to its line up of Surface devices. This device is a little bit different from what Microsoft has been placing its Surface name on. Aside from the 3:2 display that supports the Surface Pen, there’s nothing special about this device. It is built like your typical laptop, USB A ports and all. A slight difference in the keyboard, would be the only thing that immediately would take you back to the Surface line-up . The Keyboard is covered in the same material that is used for the Surface type covers and comes in different colors.
The Surface laptop starts with a 7th generation i5 processor, 4 Gigabytes of RAM and a 128 Gigabyte Solid State Drive. This configuration will run you $999. If you want to max out this device, you will get a 7th generation i7 processor, 16 gigs of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. The price tag attached to that configuration is $2,199. At these prices, it seems more reasonable to shop for a Surface Pro, but to each their own.
Along with the new Surface Laptop came a new version of Windows labeled Windows 10 S. Nothing was ever stated on what the “S” in the name actually means, but, based on the differences between “S” and “Home” I’m going to speculate that the “S” stands for Secure.
There are a few features that make “S” different from the rest. The most important one to most people is that only Windows Store apps can be used on this operating system. Thats right, no 32/64-bit apps on this PC. As of now that means no Chrome and no iTunes which are currently the two most downloaded non-Windows Store applications. “But with no Chrome, how will I ever get to Facebook and Twitter?!?” I hear you say and I’ll answer that with not one, but two answers. The first and most simple solution is use the Edge browser. “But Shane, I hate the Edge browser!!” I hear you say, but I have an answer for that too! There is a Facebook and Twitter app in the app store. Another change is the default browser. Edge is your default browser. That is all. End of sentence. You can not change your default browser, which for the fact that you cant install any other browser should make that a little easier pill to swallow. Lets make that pill just a little thicker though. Your default search engine, it’s Bing. Your alternative options, None. If your against using this as your search engine, I suggest you set your preferred search as your home page. Another feature, which will be minor to most is there is no way to enable the developer options. This keeps you from doing 2 things. You cant side load apps and you cant use the Linux Subsystem (Bash on Windows). For most this wont be a big deal but I thought I would throw that in anyways.
It seems that the only way to get this operating system is to buy it pre-loaded on the device. Fortunately the Surface laptop is not the only device carrying this. Multiple OEM partners (Asus, HP, Acer to name a few) have announced their devices that will be carrying “S” at price tags starting at $189. I would imagine that the hardware at that price point you will get you Chromebook like specs. If these limitations are turning you off, but you really want the hardware, there’s an option to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for $50 which is actually cheaper than trying to upgrade from Home to Pro. For a limited time (until the end of the year) you can upgrade to Pro for free.
Everything said and done, a low priced Windows 10 S device looks like it could be a great alternative to a Chromebook, or a nice high end device for someone who doesn’t like/shouldn’t have options.