Windows 10 S, announced in 2017, is a "walled garden" version of Windows 10. It offers a faster, more secure experience by allowing users to only install software from the Windows App Store, and by requiring the use of the Microsoft Edge. Sometimes referred to as "Windows 10 in S mode," Windows 10 S is installed on lower-cost laptops aimed at schools and students, including the Microsoft Surface Laptop.
Microsoft configured Windows 10 in S mode to run on lighter devices, provide better security, and enable easier management. The “S” doesn’t have a specific designation, but Microsoft generally surrounds it with words like security, streamlined for simplicity, superior performance, and whatnot. Windows 10 S stands out for these four different aspects of the operating system and its the Soul of Windows 10.
Windows 10 S is a special mode of Windows that substantially limits Windows 10 in a variety of ways to make it run faster, provide longer battery life, and be more secure and easier to manage. You can opt-out of this Windows 10 S and revert to Windows 10 Home or Pro.
Functionally, Windows 10 S supports the same basic services as the underlying Windows 10 license. It simply targets schools in particular and wants educators to have the necessary tools for class management.
With Windows 10 S you get faster startup times and app activities. This is because there are no Windows legacy apps that slow things down. As long as you aren’t eating up too much RAM, Windows 10 S is positively snappy. Files automatically save in the cloud via OneDrive, which helps avoid bloat on smaller hard drives. Basic Windows features like Cortana, Windows Hello facial recognition, and Windows Ink for stylus use also remain.
- Taskbar and Start Button: Enjoy the Start button and the taskbar in Windows 10 S. With the taskbar, you can pin the applications you use most often to have them accessible from your desktop. This will save you time and let you get to what you want to do in one click.
- Personalization: Personalization is another familiar feature that Microsoft Windows 10 S offers. There are more built-in themes than in previous versions of Microsoft Windows, or you can build a custom theme using your own images, colors, and fonts.
- Windows Hello: Instead of a traditional password, you can use fingerprint or facial recognition to sign in to your devices (you do have the option of having a PIN to sign in as well, which is always a good idea).
- Windows Ink: with Windows Ink, you can either type or digitally jot down notes or ideas with a simple click from your taskbar. It is always accessible, which means you can open it before you sign in.
- Cortana: For Windows users who have grown jealous of Apple user’s reliance on Siri or Amazon user’s connection to Alexa, they can now brag about just how well-integrated Cortana is to Windows 10 S. Cortana can be activated by voice, touch, or typing, and she can help you stay organized, find things that you are looking for, and manage your digital life. She is optional, so you do have the ability, if you wish, to turn her off.
- Game Mode: Gamers will be pleased to know that Microsoft Windows 10 S now has a Game Mode that automatically gives your games more system resources when you are playing them. You now also can play Xbox games in native 4K. And a new Game Bar lets you stream the gameplay and share clips of your game with others.
- Xbox compatibility: An eye-catching feature if you like your video games – Windows 10 S will also work on the Xbox One and will hand players the ability to stream games from their console to their laptop or PC in another room. Great if the living room is otherwise occupied.
- Edge: Microsoft Edge is the default browser in Windows 10 S mode, and you can’t change this setting. In theory, if other browsers have Windows Store apps, you could use them. But this hasn’t happened yet, and links will always default to Edge. Again, Microsoft’s reason for this is greater control over security.
- Bing: Similarly, Bing is the default search engine for S mode activities and you cannot change this.
- Windows Store: you can install apps only from Windows Store is the company’s way of attacking that problem. In Windows 10 S there is one Store for purchasing content for all devices; from apps and games to music, movies and TV shows, it is now all done from one place and will appear across your devices.
- Security and safety: Security has also been enhanced and continues to be upgraded by Microsoft as the need arises – be sure to set up automatic updates! – in Microsoft Windows 10 S.
- Windows Defender: Windows defender is the only security application that you can install in Windows 10 S. It is an integrated antivirus with anti-ransomware capabilities. It offers you built-in virus protection, with sophisticated algorithms that help detect and block ransomware. Windows Firewall is a new feature that will alert you to anything that seems suspicious, giving you the chance to approve or deny access, and it also helps with blocking hackers, viruses, and worms.
- Dark Mode: You don't have to be jealous of Mac and Android users. In Windows 10, you can turn on dark mode, too. Just go to Settings (Windows key + I), then select “Personalization.” Choose “Colors,” and, finally, under “App Mode,” choose “Dark.”
- Compatible devices: Any PC can be compatible with Windows 10 in S mode. But it is made for lighter PCs.
Here are the System Requirements for Windows 10 S
- Processor: Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz / AMD Athlon XP 1600+
- Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 2100 or NVIDIA GeForce 6500
- System Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Storage (Hard disk space): 16 GB Hard drive space for both 64-bit and 32-bit OS
- DirectX 9 Compatible Graphics Card
- Processor: Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2180 2.0GHz / AMD Athlon 64 3200+
- Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 4650 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 230
- System Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Storage (Hard disk space): 20 GB Hard drive space for both 64-bit and 32-bit OS
- Display resolution: 1920x1080 screen resolution, a minimum diagonal display size for the primary display of 7-inches or larger.