Windows 10 S: snap judgement

Date:4 May 2017 Author: Lindsey Schutters Tags:, , , ,

The perfect laptop for me is something slim and sleek that runs an OS which can deliver my productivity apps, a proper desktop browser, has a touchscreen, at least one full-sized USB type-A port, an SD card reader and can last more than 10 hours on a single charge. Microsoft’s newly announced Surface Laptop seems to be my dream machine. I mean, just look at this video.

But it’s a trap. Let me explain.

It runs Windows 10 S, which is Microsoft’s more practical answer to Chrome OS. I say more practical because the installed apps still work when you don’t have a data connection. And therein lies the rub: you can only install and run Windows Store applications.

Why is this a problem? Because unlike Chrome OS that is now learning it draw from the wealth of Android apps on Google Play, Microsoft doesn’t have nearly the same number of developers giving them love. This isn’t bad for me who merely wants a fancy word processor that can resize images and access the internet, but the trade-offs are quite significant.

Off the bat you can pretty much only use Microsoft’s Edge browser, which is actually quite good and lightweight. I prefer Chrome or Safari because my search and tab data lives there. But then Microsoft went and did the unthinkable: you can’t set a different browser as default. And within Edge you can’t set Google as the default search engine, so you’re stuck with Bing.

This is a massive problem for me, for I, like most of the people reading this, have a carefully curated Google identity that delivers the search results that I need to get my work done.

You can however just save as a favourite page, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

And so dies my dream of Windows 10 S breathing new life into my ageing Lenovo Flex 14 and kickstarting the ARM revolution – that will probably still happen at IFA later this year and when Apple inevitably port Mac OS to mobile chipsets. I’ll reserve judgement until I get a test unit and/or Microsoft comes to its senses.