Microsoft has been rumored to be having a spring hardware event for months and the rumors have gone between new Surface devices and an cloud version of Windows. Today we they announced what we’d been waiting for and it turned out to be a combination of both based around education.
The new version of Windows is called ‘Windows S’. It’s a stripped down version that only runs apps from the Windows Store. The does include some desktop apps if they’re packed up correctly. The ideas is that getting programs via the store simplifies security and installation of programs. It’s aimed at the education market and the cheapest devices will start at around £150 with free licensing for some institutions. Microsoft will also let you upgrade your Windows S to Pro if you find S too restrictive.
That’s interesting if you’re a university or school but a £150 laptop doesn’t sound like anything I’d like to subject myself to. Microsoft have an answer to this – the Surface Laptop. It’s a 13.5 inch laptop that runs Window S. It’s got good specs – a 3:2 screen, fanless and starts with 4GB of ram and a 128GB SSD. The obvious comparison is to Google’s Chromebook Pixel and they’re both aspirational devices that show what an OS can do on great hardware.
In the US the Surface Laptop is available to order now and ships on the 15th of July, starting at $999. There’s no word yet on UK availability and prices.
All in all the event was a clear step towards taking on ChromeOS and winning back some of the Educational market Microsoft has lost in the US. It might work but there’s two catches. First the hardware has to be okay – not necessarily good but that £150 Windows S laptop has to run acceptably. Secondly and perhaps harder the Microsoft Store has to have enough decent software to make the market happy. ChromeOS gets around this by letting you run web apps but Chrome is still far superior to Microsoft’s Edge and even Google is adding Android apps.
I have to admit the Surface Laptop looks interesting but I don’t know sucessful Windows S is going to be. The Surface upgraded to Pro though does sound interesting even if it wasn’t Microsoft’s intent.