Windows 10 S: one step closer to a safer web browsing

Microsoft officially presented its new product, which will be released this summer, on the 2nd of May, 2017 in New York. It was expected to have a name Windows 10 Cloud, but, instead, it was named Windows 10 S. This new Windows variant is a lightweight version of Windows 10 with fewer active apps in the background resulting in the considerably faster loading of user profiles and the smoother overall performance of the computer. Additionally, it comes with a slogan “streamlined for security and superior performance”, so several important security adjustments are expected to take place in this version too. It should be emphasized that Windows 10 S is not for individual sale, but, instead, it will be found pre-installed on new devices, e.g. Microsoft’s Surface Laptops, Dell, HP, and Acer computers. The prices of laptops with this OS should start from $189 and might reach $299. Most likely, this business model was borrowed from Google – it does not sell its Chrome OS for individual customers either.

Although Windows 10 and Windows 10 S share similarities in appearance, they can be called two different operating systems. While Windows 10 was primarily developed for people using the so-called assistive technologies, Windows 10 S was created by Microsoft software development engineers having students and teachers in mind. It is considered the first product developed for the needs of the education sector, e.g. schools and universities, and its main task is to standardize the use of computers on educational institutions. Of course, it does not mean that individual users will not be allowed to use it. In fact, it is promoted as a good choice for those individual users who are “looking for consistent performance and advanced security” on an official Microsoft’s page as well.

As mentioned above, Windows 10 S comes with some new security and performance improvements, such as the extended battery life and the boosted computer speed, but these are only minor changes if compared to the fact that a new version of Windows - Windows 10 S - works with applications from the Windows Store only (!). Microsoft claims that apps could not be launched unless they are available at the Windows Store, which should help users to avoid harmful malicious software. This might, unfortunately, mean that you will have to say goodbye to some of your favorite programs. Microsoft is working hard to make popular software available in the Windows Store. Additionally, software developers are allowed to upload their apps to the store freely, but, frankly speaking, it is very likely that hundreds of apps will never show up there. If you cannot live without them - Windows 10 S is not for you.

Since Windows 10 S is all about security, it is not surprising that it comes with certain improvements which should ensure the safer Internet browsing. One of the biggest news is that Windows 10 S has Microsoft Edge pre-installed, and it is set as a default web browser without the possibility to change that. The default Edge’s search provider cannot be altered either – Bing is all users get. The same can be said about Internet Explorer – its default search provider cannot be changed too. Users could perform web searches using other search tools, e.g. Google only if they access them first by entering their URLs in the address bar. It should be noted that it does not mean that Windows 10 S does not support other browsers. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other web browsers should be available in the Windows Store and could be used by users freely; however, Microsoft Edge will remain the default browser and, as a consequence, it will be used as a default program to open .htm, .html, and other files. This web browser has been chosen by Microsoft as the default one not without reason. Research carried out by NSS Labs revealed that Microsoft Edge is more secure if compared to other popular browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome at present.

While Windows OS users agree that the pre-installed default web browser and the inability to change its default search tool might be a step towards a more secure web browsing, cyber criminals are surely not so happy about this security improvement because it means that it will be no longer possible to change the default web browser’s settings and, as a consequence, creating some computer infections, e.g. browser hijackers (infections which illegally change browsers’ settings like homepage and search tool), will be a pointless job if many users switch from older versions of the Windows OS to Windows 10 S. This is surely good news for ordinary users!

Users who purchase a device with Windows 10 S pre-installed and do not like it for any reason or simply realize that the Windows Store does not contain any necessary apps are allowed to upgrade Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for $49. Good news is that Microsoft offers a free upgrade for those unsatisfied customers until the end of 2017. On top of that, educational institutions using Windows 10 Pro can get Windows 10 S with Office 365 Education for free. It seems that now it is a good time to try out this new Windows version.

It is still unclear whether Windows 10 S will become popular among computer users, but there is already no doubt that this version of Windows is the most secure one so far since it does not support non-Windows Store applications and comes with a default browser Microsoft Edge whose default search tool is Bing (these settings cannot be changed). Specialists say that the release of Windows 10 S is not only about security and the improved PC performance – it is also the latest Microsoft’s attempt to move the Windows OS to a modern environment.