WINDOWS 10 S
You don’t need to buy a new laptop to try Windows 10 S. Wayne Williams explains how to run it
Get it WITHOUT buying a new laptop
Windows remains by far the most popular desktop operating system, but it faces increasing pressure from rival software. Chrome OS, Google’s browser- based operating system, is used a lot in schools and is spreading its influence in business environments, not least because the Chromebooks that Chrome OS runs on are secure and cheap, which makes them especially popular with students and IT departments.
Windows 10 S– a locked- down version of Windows 10 – is Microsoft’s attempt to challenge Chrome OS. In this Weekend Project, we explain how to try it without needing to buy a new laptop.
What is Windows 10 S?
Windows 10 S is, essentially, a more secure version of Windows 10 that can only run apps from the Windows Store. In other words, you can’t install regular Windows programs on it. This might seem like a strange idea but the reasoning behind it is sound – by controlling what software can be installed on the operating system, Microsoft is safeguarding users from everyday threats. Windows 10 S is, for example, immune to most malware, including ransomware.
Where can you get Windows 10 S?
The new operating system is currently only available pre-installed on selected devices, such as Microsoft’s Surface Laptop. This is bound to change in the future but for now, you can’t simply download and install it on any PC you like.
However, that’s not strictly true. Microsoft recently made Windows 10 S available for developers on the MSDN network to download in ISO format, and then released an installer (aimed at the education market), which lets anyone take the new OS for a spin.
If you want to try Windows 10 S but don’t want to splash out on a new laptop, the easiest solution is to install it in a
virtual environment. The process is a little more convoluted than normal and takes a while longer as a result, but it’s easy enough to do.
What you need to know before you start
Unless you have the developer ISO (from the MSDN network), the only way to try Windows 10 S currently is to install it over a copy of Windows 10. You don’t need to own or run Microsoft’s operating system to do this because it’s easy to get a free (and perfectly legal) copy to use. This is the main reason why the process of installing and running Windows 10 S in a virtual environment takes so long – you first need to install Windows 10, then “upgrade” it to Windows 10 S, which isn’t a quick process.
There are some other restrictions to be aware of. First, it’s not recommended to install Windows 10 S over Windows 10 Home because you won’t be able to activate it. You’ll also need to be running the Creators Update (1703) or later, which is currently only available as a Windows Insider Preview build.
While you can install a new version of Windows 10 and convert it to Windows 10 S without a key, you won’t be able to access all its features – including the personalisation options – without activating it. If you plan on activating the installation, you’ll need to activate Windows 10 before starting the upgrade. Windows 10 S may activate once installed but if it doesn’t, you’ll have to click the troubleshoot option on the upgrade page to do this.
Get a Windows 10 ISO
If you don’t have a copy of Windows 10 to hand (either on a DVD or a digital download), you’ll need to get one. In some countries, you can download a Windows 10 ISO direct from Microsoft, but in the UK you need to download and use the company’s Media Creation Tool. Go to bit.ly/winiso431, then download and run the program. Agree to the terms and select the option to ‘Create installation media.’ Select the version of
the OS you require.
If you’re running Windows 10 already, the program will automatically select the same version for you. If that’s not suitable (perhaps you’re running Windows 10 Home but want an ISO for Windows 10 Pro), then untick ‘Use the recommended options for this PC’ and select the version you want. Click Next and select ‘ISO file’, then download this to your hard drive.
What’s new or different in Windows 10 S
You can download software from outside the Windows Store as normal but if you try to install it, you’ll be greeted with a message stating ‘For security and performance Windows 10 S only runs verified apps from the Store’.
The OS only allows you to use the Microsoft Edge browser. You can’t install Firefox or Chrome because Microsoft’s browser is the fixed default and there’s (currently) no way to change it.
Microsoft sees this as a major bonus, because Edge is designed to work very closely with the operating system, but if you’re used to a different browser, Edge will seem rather alien and many of the extensions you might rely on in your regular browser won’t be available to you.
Windows 10 S is tied to Microsoft products, so when you search the web in the operating system you’ll be using Bing (unless you browse to Google.com manually).
One good point about Windows 10 S is it’s much faster than Windows 10 because it isn’t bogged down in any way. This means it can run on lighter hardware. It can boot in around 15 seconds and, when installed on a laptop, deliver significantly better battery life. You won’t notice this kind of difference so much in a virtualised environment, though.
You don’t need to activate Windows 10 S but if you want to, and can’t, then the troubleshooting option should solve your problem
The Media Creation Tool lets you download a Windows 10 ISO file to use in Virtualbox
10 S installs on any version of Windows 10. Run the installer to see this message
Windows 10 S looks and behaves much like Windows 10, but starts quicker
Windows 10 S blocks you from installing software from outside the Windows Store, and points you in the direction of ‘safe’ downloads
Edge is the default (and only) browser that you can use in Windows 10 S