Opinion by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Windows 10 S comes to an undignified — but not unexpected — end

Well, that didn’t take long. While Microsoft claims that Windows 10 S is now a Windows 10 “mode,” the truth is that this attempted counter to Google Chrome OS has floundered.

dead end street sign road
Jake Jablonski/DeviantArt (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Microsoft really has gotten its act together in some areas. Take its cloud platform, Microsoft Azure. It’s a great cloud. But then there’s Windows. As Computerworld’s Woody Leonhart reported, “we had patches released, yanked, re-released and/or re-re-released on 15 different days in January.” Then, there was Windows 10 S.

Windows 10 what, you ask? I don’t blame you for not knowing. Windows 10 S was Microsoft’s attempt to grab market share back from Google and its Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks. It failed.

Oh, Microsoft isn’t saying that. On the official Windows 10 S website, you can find Microsoft still telling you how 10 S has more security, great performance, yadda-yadda. What I said, back when it first showed up in May 2017, was that Windows 10 S was crippleware.

I was right. 10 S, I said last year, was a “Windows” operating system that couldn’t run your 32- or 64-bit Windows software. It still can’t. Instead, you’re stuck with second-rate Universal Windows Platform (UWP) applications.

I find it more than a little telling that a recent overview of the 10 most popular UWP programs included Dropbox, eBay and Facebook Messenger. What’s that you say? Those are just websites or web services? Why, yes, they are. If those are full-featured applications, I’ve been doing computing all wrong for the last 40 years.

Someone, somewhere out there, must use Windows 10 S. After all, it came as the default operating system on the Microsoft Surface Laptop. Interesting thing, though: When I did a Google search on “Windows 10 S Surface Laptop,” most of the hits were for stories on how to upgrade those machines to a real version of Windows 10. My favorite headline was “Surface Laptop is great, once you upgrade Windows 10 S.” Need I say more?

So, not even a year after introducing , Windows 10 S Microsoft is pulling back from it. Now Microsoft is spinning that Windows 10 S was never really a new version of Windows 10. Instead, it’s a “mode,” which can be used across the Windows 10 lineup. Whatever that means. There’s also Windows 10 S for Firstline Workers, Windows 10 S Enterprise and a rather mysterious Windows 10 S for Home. If there’s someone out there using any of them, please let me know.

I mean, if you’re going to use Windows 10 on your desktop, use Windows 10 already — Windows 10 Pro to be exact!

Come on, Microsoft! Enough of the pretending. We know what’s going on. No one wanted a version of Windows that just ran limited UWP software. Trying to pretend Windows 10 S wasn’t a flop just makes you look stupid.

Oh, by the way, don’t let the 10 S fiasco poison your mind about the product it was trying to play catch-up with. Anyone who really does want an operating system that’s lightweight, fast, secure and useful should buy a Chromebook. Google Chrome OS gives many users all the operating system they’ll ever need, with none of the confusion that came with Windows 10 S.

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