Microsoft held an event today that had one focus: to directly take on Chrome OS and the rising Chromebook market. Microsoft announced new hardware in the form of the $999 Surface Laptop and it comes with its very own variation of the Redmond OS. Allow us to feel you in on Windows 10S as well as some of the new hardware it will be paired with.
First, let’s look at the hardware since it powers the related hardware. Windows has decided it needed a stripped-down version of the operating system that offers speed, performance, and added security. Most can easily see this is a play to regain the educational, and budget, market that they are steadily losing to Google’s Chrome OS machines. All devices will have a faster login of under 15 seconds, preconfigured USB authentification options, and free Office 365.
One main restriction of the new Windows S is that users will not be allowed to install any applications found outside the Windows Store. Microsoft sees this as a security measure to keep out the rogue apps and certify the performance of apps on the slimmer system requirements. They also feel that the average student relies heavily on web-based solutions and will not feel hindered by the new policy. While this is debatable, it does align with how most Chromebook users view their usage cases. It is worth a note that Windows S is fully upgradeable for a $50 charge.
Enough with the technical speak. Let’s turn your attention to the new sports car in the parking lot. The Surface Laptop. This is by far the flagship of the new Windows S category. And with this, it’s pretty much a reference device for what the high end of capable hardware can look like. It’s conventional 13.3-inch aluminum clamshell laptop, with a touchscreen, that looks very sleek and full of Surface DNA with a keyboard surrounded by the same felt material found on Surface Pro keyboards.
Internally, the Surface Laptop contains a 7th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. Upgrades can add from 8-16GB of RAM while those not feeling the cloud can add up to a 512GB hard drive. New owners of the Surface Laptop will also get the option to upgrade the OS to full-fledged Windows 10 Pro for the first year for free. One disappointing omission in the hardware department is the lack of USB-C. With this connector quickly becoming the standard in both data and power transfer Microsoft whiffed on this subtraction. Overall, the Surface Laptop is a beast that most might consider overkill for the intended market. The Surface Laptop is a whopping $999 and can be pre-ordered now from Microsoft. Orders are expected to hit doorsteps in June.
The more realistic standard for Windows 10S is most likely far below those set by the Surface lineup. HP and Acer were both early visitors to the Chromebook party and were present for Microsoft’s event today as well announcing two new laptops for $299. Both are 11.6-inch laptops with Intel Celeron CPUs, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The one place they do differ is the screen, with the Acer TravelMate Spin B1 Convertible sporting a 1080p screen over the 1366×768 found on the HP ProBook Education Edition. (can the names be any longer?)
Microsoft needs an entry back to the bottom of the PC market. They have lost market share to the likes of Chromebooks at an alarming rate and have to stop that bleeding. Windows S is their answer to the threat and may offer Windows faithful the option they’ve been looking for. However, only time will tell if this is indeed the case. Many will see a striking similarity to the Windows RT confusion that launched with Windows 8. Either way, the next generation of budget laptops will be worth keeping an eye on to see how Windows S is really perceived by consumers.