Microsoft has announced the latest version of Windows, with the software giant unveiling Windows 10 S. This latest operating system is intended to be something of an affordable version of the mainstream software, aimed at lower cost computers and education-oriented PCs. As the operating system niche becomes more complicated and diverse, Microsoft is attempting to refine its strategy in order to enable Windows to retain its dominant position.
Despite its experience with producing operating systems, Microsoft has been less than successful in its attempts to establish Windows on affordable, low-powered hardware. Although the software still dominates the desktop marketplace, the developer is having a hard time establishing Windows as a mobile platform in particular.
Windows Store emphasis
This simplified version of Windows 10 will not enable the user to install apps, as is the case with a traditional Windows PC. Instead, applications must be installed direct from the Windows Store, with a keen eye on security. Microsoft suggested that this is particularly aimed at the education market, effectively enabling the corporation to block virus-infested programs and irrelevant games.
Windows 10 S will naturally compete with Chrome OS, and support for apps will be one of the main features that tilts users towards the Microsoft system. Chrome OS is known to work particularly well with web apps, but many of these are limited in comparison to their native desktop counterparts. Windows 10 S will also be compatible with web apps, but offers much more access to traditional desktop apps compared to Chrome.
Early indications also suggest that the new Windows operating system will compete favorably with Chrome OS in terms of speed. While Chromebooks are renowned for booting up quickly, Microsoft has already stated that Windows 10 S will be able to boot up completely in just 15 seconds; comparing pretty well with most Chromebooks.
In its unveiling event for Windows 10 S, Microsoft was particularly keen to emphasize the educational possibilities of this new operating system. This is perhaps not surprising, as Chrome OS has been considerably more successful in education sales than the Microsoft platform. With this Windows Store-focused device, Microsoft is hoping to eat into this market lead that Google enjoys.
Thus, the corporation has made it easy for schools to set up the software on a raft of laptops in schools via a USB drive, while administrative tools have also been set up for Windows 10 S to make it easy for network administrators to control several computers. These features are already offered by Chrome OS, but Microsoft is clearly attempting to ensure that its platform is as convenient as possible for the education market.
Windows hardware will also compare reasonably with the price of Chromebooks, with Windows 10 S laptops starting at $189. This will make the new operating system and attendant hardware an affordable product for the budget end of the market.
Clearly the corporation is hoping to reinvigorate the Windows Store with its Windows 10 S strategy, and it seems to be a sound policy. The Windows Store certainly pales in comparison to the Apple App Store. With a distinct lack of activity conspicuous recently. Microsoft is hoping that this new software release will reanimate interest in the Windows Store, and encourage developers to produce new products.
Thus, Microsoft has decided to link the Windows Store with an outstanding piece of premium hardware in the Surface Laptop, and hope that this new operating system can lead to increased sales. Overall, its strategy seems pretty reliable, and if educational establishments become more attracted to this hardware and new operating system, it will undoubtedly be good news for Microsoft.
However, it should be noted that Microsoft has attempted to create restrictive environments previously, without really establishing market penetration. Windows RT was similarly restricted to store apps alone, but the lack of suitable software ultimately proved a major problem for this release.
While the Windows 10 store features more applications than was the case with Windows 8, there still seems to be a significant gulf in software, certainly complained to Chrome OS and its Google-related offerings. Although the store offers clean installation and distribution, Microsoft must surely find a way of delivering considerably more software via this method in a very short period of time if Windows 10 is to be a success.
Microsoft is attempting to catalyze interest in the Windows Store by selling Microsoft Office 2016 through the digital retailer. In doing so, there is no doubt that the developer will strongly promote the ability of Windows 10 S to run the full Office suite as a major advantage over the Chrome OS system. And with Office undoubtedly established as the most recognizable suite of commonly used programmes in the world of computing, this could be a major selling point and success for Microsoft.
But despite the plus points of Windows 10 S, the operating system still faces a massive challenge in order to get on an even keel with Chrome OS. While Microsoft has been keen to emphasize the rich user experience that Windows 10 S delivers, its flagship operating system has never aged particularly well. The shelf life of Windows is rather poor, whereas Chrome OS ages very well by comparison. And considering that Windows 10 S is aimed at low-end hardware, this will obviously pose challenges for Microsoft in terms of its longevity.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that the future of computing lies in web-based software. Indeed, Microsoft itself has enthusiastically embraced the cloud, and related technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated and viable for even the most complicated apps. Google Docs has already made significant strides in competing with the Microsoft Office suite, and many other similar online options are also available.
Windows tends to be an impressive piece of software, and Windows 10 S will probably be just as slick as other Microsoft offerings (not mentioning Windows 8!). But unless it is able to offer particularly outstanding performance, security and reliability, while delivering a long-lasting product at the more affordable end of the hardware market, it will be for difficult for it to overcome Chrome OS in the longer term.