"Technology should help, not hinder, the job of teachers in the classroom," Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, said today at its education-focused event in New York City. "You'll see how we're delivering an accessible, streamlined platform ready for classrooms." He added that Microsoft is keenly focused on empowering all students, including those with learning differences, such as dyslexia, for which the company has already delivered specialized OneNote learning tools.
But Microsoft's biggest announcements today are focused on a new wave of products. Microsoft's Terry Myerson that Windows 10 is already the "global leading platform" for K-12 education. Even so, we've known for months that Microsoft has been developing a new edition, or SKU, of Windows 10, and that it would be aimed primarily at the education sector.
So far, it's been referred to as Windows 10 Cloud - but today, the company officially announced the latest edition as 'Windows 10 S'.
"We're taking a new approach," Myerson said. "Simplify to magnify... We're proud to introduce Windows 10 S." He said that it's streamlined, simplified, and offers "superior performance", describing it as "the soul of today's Windows."
Even the desktop wallpaper has been streamlined, he said - referring to the new background that was discovered several weeks ago:
Windows 10 S is limited to running apps installed from the Windows Store, potentially offering much greater security on devices, and limiting the impact of malware and viruses. It should also deliver better battery performance, thanks to restrictions on background tasks and services for apps installed from the Store.
Not only will boot-up times be quicker for Windows 10 S devices, compared with PCs running other Windows 10 editions, but setup times for teachers and administrators to configure those devices will also be dramatically reduced, according to Microsoft. Improvements to Intune for Education for managing devices will also streamline this process on a broader scale.
Windows 10 S will still be fully capable of running Win32 applications, as long as they're 'converted' for distribution through the Store, using Microsoft's Desktop App Bridge (also know by its development codename, Project Centennial).
Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, Toshiba are among the company's hardware partners to be planning Windows 10 S devices that will launch "in the coming months", priced from just $189. All of these devices will also include a free one-year subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition, as well as free Office 365 for Education, including Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft is also making Windows 10 S free for all schools on their existing Windows Pro PCs. Windows 10 S will be available "this summer".