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If you’ve been paying attention to the tech news recently, you’ll no doubt be aware that Microsoft has launched a new operating system Microsoft Unveils a Streamlined Version of Windows 10 Microsoft Unveils a Streamlined Version of Windows 10 Microsoft has unveiled a new version of Windows 10 called Windows 10 S. This is Microsoft's answer to Chrome OS, and the new streamlined version of Windows 10 is being targeted mainly at students. Read More : Windows 10 S.

The company hopes it’ll help the Windows platform grab a share of the Chromebook’s ever-increasing market share and propel it into homes and classrooms around the country.

But let’s cut through the advertising slogans and grandiose promises. If you’re looking for a new laptop 5 Money-Saving Tips You Must Know Before Buying a New Laptop 5 Money-Saving Tips You Must Know Before Buying a New Laptop Keep these five tips in mind next time you're shopping for a laptop and you could save hundreds of dollars. Read More , which comes out on top? Chrome OS or Windows 10 S? In my opinion, there’s only one winner.

Why Windows 10 S?

Before looking at the specifics, let’s take a moment to explain what Windows 10 S and why Microsoft has launched it.

Many readers will recall the disastrous Windows RT platform Windows RT - What You Can & Can't Do Windows RT - What You Can & Can't Do Windows RT edition was discreetly launched about a month and a half ago with the flagship Microsoft Surface RT tablet device. Though visually indistinguishable from Windows 8, there are some key differences as to what... Read More . Microsoft introduced the operating system with the intention of making it Windows 8’s “little brother” — it was included on tablets and other mobile devices.

It caused confusion among users, many of whom weren’t aware it could only run apps from the Windows Store, and it received derision from critics. Microsoft promptly abandoned the project in mid-2015.

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Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s second attempt at creating a “locked-down” OS. Once again, you’ll only be able to install apps from the Windows Store, but Microsoft is hoping a clearer and more coordinated marketing campaign will convince users to give it a try. This time, the focus is on “simplicity, security, and speed.”

It’s those three words that put Windows 10 S into direct competition with Chromebooks.

1. Apps

Windows 10 S machines will only be able to run apps from the Windows Store. As such, they’re not too dissimilar from Chromebooks — Google’s OS is limited to the Chrome Web Store.

Therefore, users need to consider how the two stores compare.

The Windows Store has been beset with problems from day one. It’s faced criticism over its innumerable “fake apps” How to Find Apps You Can Trust in the Windows Store How to Find Apps You Can Trust in the Windows Store Microsoft's app store is better than its reputation, but you'll still run into scam, fake, and insecure apps. We'll show you how to identify an app's trustworthiness. Read More and third-party rip-offs, the security of some of the apps How Secure Is the Windows App Store? How Secure Is the Windows App Store? The Windows Store took a hammering when it first launched in early-2012, criticized for poor apps and security issues. Four years on, is the Windows Store now a reliable and secure service? Read More is suspect, and the choice simply isn’t there.

The Chrome Web Store, meanwhile, has been steadily gaining traction since its launch in 2010. There’s a much richer selection of apps. Almost every popular web app is represented.

chrome web store

Furthermore, the newest Chromebooks on the market can also run Android apps Try Windows Ink on Windows 10, Run Android Apps on Your Chromebook... [Tech News Digest] Try Windows Ink on Windows 10, Run Android Apps on Your Chromebook... [Tech News Digest] Windows Ink lands on Windows 10, Google teases Android apps for Chrome OS, even Steve Wozniak thinks Apple should pay more tax, Spotify finds your Game of Thrones match, and follow the Olympic Torch on... Read More . Even if your favorite software isn’t available as a web app, you have the entire Google Play Store to hunt for a solution.

Sure, Microsoft has promised the Windows Store will improve (where have we heard that before?). At the time of writing, Spotify and Microsoft Office are both due to arrive later this year, and more apps will presumably follow. But right now, there’s no contest between the two.

2. Security

Microsoft has put security at the front of its Windows 10 S proposition. But what does that mean in practice?

In short, we don’t really know. It seems Microsoft’s mains security angle is linked to the previous point. Because all apps are installed from the Windows Store, there will (theoretically) be a lower risk of malware and fewer “app helpers” will load at startup.

The company has also touted its Windows Defender anti-virus app and the Edge browser as security benefits.

None of these things are bad (though I’ll return to Edge later). However, they pale into insignificance when compared to security features on Chrome OS How to Make Your Chromebook More Secure in 7 Easy Steps How to Make Your Chromebook More Secure in 7 Easy Steps You can easily claim Chromebooks are the most secure laptops on the market. However, that doesn't mean you can't improve their security. Here are four ways to make your Chromebook even more secure. Read More .

The Google operating system offers automatic updates, a sandbox environment for every web page and app, verified boot, data encryption across the entire system, and a one-click refresh in case something does go awry.

Which system sounds more secure?

3. Speed

System speed of Windows 10 S in another of the key selling points. According to Microsoft, the OS will boot to the desktop 15 seconds faster than a machine running Windows 10 Pro with the same profile and apps installed.

It’s an attention-grabbing headline, but anyone who’s used Windows 10 knows that while it’s certainly faster than its predecessors, it’s not exactly “fast” when booting. Even with a 15-second saving, you’ll probably still have time to go and do your weekly grocery shopping before the system is ready to use.

I’ve just measured the startup time on my three-year-old HP Chromebook. After pressing the power button, I was looking at my browser’s homepage in less than eight seconds. And the system wasn’t still loading in the background — everything was smooth and ready-to-use.

Call me skeptical, but I don’t think Windows 10 S will come close to that time.

4. Using the Web

Let’s have a show of hands. How many of you use Chrome as your primary web browser? And how many of you use Google as your primary search engine? And now, how many of you use a combination of Edge and Bing?

If the stats are anything to go by, more than 60 percent of people use Chrome and almost 80 percent use Google. Edge and Bing trail at 15 and 7 percent, respectively.

web browser
Image Credit: JMiks via Shutterstock

So why has Microsoft decided to lock you into the Edge/Bing combination on Windows 10 S? Since you can only install apps from the store, no other web browsers are available. And even if you manage to side-load Chrome, all the system’s links and apps will still open within Edge; you can’t change the default apps.

As for Edge… sure, you can navigate to Google’s homepage and use its search function, but if you type a query into the Start Menu or Edge’s address bar, you’ll be directed to Bing automatically.

The reliance on Bing also punches another hole in Microsoft’s security claims. As recently as March 2017, security experts at the Pwn2Own hackathon found a major flaw in the app’s code that allowed hackers to break out of a machine’s VMware Workstation host and into the OS.

Of course, you’re restricted to the Chrome browser on Chrome OS (unless you install Linux as a dual-boot), but given the stats, is not going to be a problem for most people. And Chrome still lets you use any search engine you want.

5. Performance

Microsoft debuted Windows 10 S along with the new Surface laptop. The entry-level Surface device will cost almost $1,000 and comes with Intel Core i5, a 128 GB SSD, and 4 GB of RAM. The high-end model will set you back an eye-watering $2,200 but gives you Intel Core i7, a 512 GB SSD, and 16 GB or RAM.

To be fair, the specs of both those models are good. Not amazing, but good. As such, you’d expect Windows 10 S to run perfectly on both of them. Actually, you’d expect any operating system to run perfectly on both of them.

surface laptop

Now consider the specs of an entry-level Chromebook. The Acer Chromebook 11 comes with a Celeron N2840 processor, a 16 GB SSD, and only 2 GB of RAM. Chrome OS runs just as well on this device as it does on the Pixel Chromebook.

But how would Windows 10 S perform on the device? We’ll soon find out, Microsoft is planning to put the OS on low-end devices for the education sector later this year.

Given the difference in complexity “under-the-hood” between Windows 10 S and Chrome OS, do you think the system’s performance on a budget device will match the performance you’d enjoy on a Surface device? I certainly don’t.

Which Device Would You Buy?

To conclude, let’s do a quick test. If I give you three checks for $1,000, $500, and $200, with each check, do you buy a laptop running Windows 10 S, a Chromebook, or something else?

I’d be surprised if anyone said Windows 10 S. That’s what Microsoft is up against. Don’t believe the hype: buy a Chromebook.

How do you think Windows 10 S compares with Chrome OS? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Daffa naufal
    August 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Better to buy both of them,but not windows 10 s,just windows 10 pro and a chromebook

  2. Ian C.
    July 21, 2017 at 1:41 am

    For $200, I would purchase a cheap Windows 10 S device (yes, not a Chromebook).
    For $500, I would purchase an Ubuntu laptop, most likely a Windows device in which I'd install Ubuntu (yes, this is in the "something else" category).
    For $1,000, I would purchase a Windows 10 Pro device (yes, still not a Chromebook).

    Why no Chromebook? I have a Chromebook and I rarely use it. I use a computer for more than what ChromeOS can do. It's cheap, but I feel as if Windows 10 S is able to do far more than ChromeOS. There are, in my opinion, a lot of better apps in the Windows Store, a lot more fully functional apps, as opposed to total web based programs. And, I don't personally like Google Chrome, with my 1st choice being Opera, 2nd choice being Firefox, and 3rd choice being Edge (yes, Edge). Google Chrome is farther down the list.

  3. Perry Lund
    July 2, 2017 at 1:04 am

    The latest Windows 10S and new hardware (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/devices/default.aspx) make a compelling reason over Chromebooks, especially for schools using Office 365. I have an HP Chromebook and it has its charms, but I also have multiple Surface devices and they offer more tools for my work.

  4. John Yendt
    May 19, 2017 at 12:10 am

    As far as security is concerned, ChromeOS is stateless. In other words, after every reboot, you have a virgin copy of the OS. On the other hand, windows stores state so, any crud acquired during any previous session is still there. You can only load apps from the empty windows store but the malware writers do not care about the store.

  5. Seun
    May 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    You certainly either have not used windows 10. Or you've been handed the worst machine ever.
    Chrome is great. But is not a match for Windows 10, even S.
    So, you should do a proper research before writing a review like this.

    • Aaron
      May 18, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      This isn't windows 10. It's Windows 10 S.

      Have you used a chromebook? I use both and I am appalled at the amount and level of issues windows can come up with. My chromebook on the other hand never has ever even needed a reboot to fix a glitch. Things just don't break in the first place. For a desktop where I require multiple monitors and 50 different exe programs, I need windows or macOS.
      For a laptop, chromebooks are excellent. Especially with chrome Remote Desktop when you need it.
      If you decide to go with Windows 10 S, you can't have any exe programs. We're left with the windows 10 App Store and Edge. Edge is slow and buggy to say the least. It forces advertisements on you every time it opens (if it opens correctly at all). And the Windows 10 store has some good mobile apps. Nothing fit for a cheap latptop let alone a 1000 dollar one. It's hard to imagine 10 S won't go down like RT.

      Windows 10 S will probably have better animations than chrome os, I'll give it that. Please. Explain how you think the writer hasn't done research? What does Windows 10 S have going for it?

  6. Bojescu Mihai
    May 18, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Chromebook + Linux all the way. Cheap, usable.

  7. Tim miller
    May 18, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Chromebook. Regardless of anything else, only having edge to me equals not able to get on the web. What's the point of a system nowadays that can't access Internet since it doesn't have a functional browser? Even at $5 for a high end system, being saddled with 10s makes it unusable.

  8. robert phillips
    May 17, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    chromebook all the way. i just got rid of a dell xps 10 which ran windows 8.1 rt it sucked. no selection of apps. but to be fair if you are going to just run word and what not ehh might be alright. but still rather have a chromebook. and android.

    • enigmaxg2
      May 18, 2017 at 6:23 am

      Windows RT was absolute crap... worst product ever created. W10S (upgradable for free to W10Pro for a limited time) is another story, there's nothing better than a Full OS.

  9. spyjoshx
    May 17, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Why doesn't Micro$oft just give up and stick to working on desktop/laptop Window$. If it really is the most popular desktop OS, then they should focus on making THAT the best it can be. Why foray into a market where you are almost sure to flop? Let google dominate the mobile market, and stay with the desktop market where you ALREADY dominate. Windows 10 still needs a LOT of help......

    Don't get me wrong. I am not a Windows fan. I use linux every day, and almost never use Windows. But when I do have to, it feels so sluggish and heavy after using linux.

    • Joshthemoron
      May 24, 2017 at 6:19 am

      Least thought through reply ever. You realise it was Google's foray into mobile that got them where they are now.