Microsoft has officially announced Windows 10 S, the rumoured new entry-level member of the Windows 10 family, along with a more traditional laptop device for its burgeoning Surface family.
Announced at a press event late last night, Windows 10 S is effectively the core of the Windows 10 Cloud Edition rumoured back in February
. Where the Cloud Edition was a general-purpose operating system built around regular internet connectivity a la Google's rival ChromeOS and Chromebook devices, though, Windows 10 S has a different focus: education. As a result, it's little surprise to find that Microsoft has locked the device down considerably: Windows 10 S will, just like the Cloud Edition, be entirely unable to install any applications which do not come through the Windows Store - including legacy Win32 applications.
For those who have purchased a Windows 10 S device and who find this restriction a problem, the company has promised an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for £49 - or free, if you purchase a Windows 10 S gadget between launch and the end of the year. As you'd expect from a cut-down operating system aimed at education, pricing is low: There's no word on how much Microsoft's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers are paying to licence the software, but it will be available on laptops starting at £299 and upwards - competing directly with ChromeOS Chromebooks, with the advantage of improved offline capabilities and a relatively cheap upgrade path to Windows 10 proper.
The company's initial own-brand Windows 10 S device, however, is priced considerably higher. The first Surface entry which is not a convertible two-in-one tablet-cum-laptop, the imaginatively named Surface Laptop is - entirely unsurprisingly - a plain old laptop designed to compete, the company claims, with Apple's MacBook Pro. Built around a 13.5" PixelSense touch-sensitive display protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass 3, the device comes equipped with an Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD in its basic configuration with multiple price points available to the top-end Core i7, 16GB, and 512GB model. All models will, the company claims, feature up to 14.5 hours of battery life - 'up to four more hours of battery power than a 13" MacBook Pro,
' the company's press material is quick to point out - and include a keyboard covered in suede-like Alcantara for reasons that clearly make sense to Microsoft.
Oddly for a laptop which comes in just shy of £1,000 in its basic configuration, Microsoft is launching the Surface Laptop with the cut-down Windows Store-locked Windows 10 S. As with the cheaper Windows 10 S devices promised from OEM partners, the Surface Pro laptop will not be able to run any legacy applications unless upgraded to Windows 10 Pro - free through to the end of the year, £49 thereafter. As with Microsoft's other Surface devices, each Surface Laptop comes with a one-year subscription to Office 365 when purchased before the middle of October this year.
Microsoft's pricing for the Surface Laptop, available only in 'platinum' finish despite the promise of multiple colours, is as follows: the Core i5, 4GB, and 128GB storage model is £979; the Core i5, 8GB, 256GB storage model is £1,249; the Core i7, 8GB, 256GB storage model is £1,549; the Core i7, 16GB, 512GB model is £2,149. All models come with Windows 10 S pre-installed.
More information on the new Surface Laptop is available on the official product page