NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy, unless you happen to use a computer to assist you in searching and recording your family tree.
I have written often about Chromebooks. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+chromebook&t=hf&ia=web for my past Chromebook articles. Chromebook laptops boot up quickly, never get viruses, and perform most of the operations that the majority of computer users want: they surf the web, play games, have excellent word processors, work with Facebook, handle homework, and most everything else. However, they don’t do well at processing-intensive applications, such as 3D rendering, financial / scientific modelling, or video encoding. Chromebooks typically sell for $175 to $300 with a very few high-end models selling for higher prices.
Chromebooks run the Chrome operating system, produced by Google. They do not run Windows or the Macintosh macOS operating systems. Therefore, you cannot install and use Windows or Macintosh programs in them. Instead, almost all Chromebook applications are cloud-based applications, such as Facebook, Gmail, MyHeritage.com, Ancestry.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (“TNG”), and thousands of others.
These low-cost laptop computers have proven to be very popular and apparently have been taking sales away from Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system and, to a lesser extent, from Macintosh systems as well. Microsoft apparently has noticed the drop in sales. Now the company has announced that Microsoft will promote low-cost laptops manufactured by other firms that run a dummied-down version of Windows 10, called Windows 10 S. Prices will start at just $189. These new laptop systems obviously are designed to crush the Chromebook rebellion.
The cheapest of the new laptops is the Lenovo 100e, which is powered by the Intel Celeron Apollo Lake and priced at $189. There’s also the 2-in-1 300e for $279, the Classmate Leap T303 with Windows Hello for $199, and the Trigono V401 2-in-1 with pen and touch priced at $299.
The Windows 10 S systems are aimed at the education market, which has long been a stronghold for Chromebooks. However, the Windows 10 S systems apparently will also be available for purchase by individuals.
Before you get excited by these low-cost systems that run a dummied-down version of Windows 10, you might want to consider the disadvantages.
Windows 10 S is basically Windows 10 Pro, with a locked-down configuration that makes it easier to manage and less susceptible to security and performance issues. When used on low-cost hardware, Windows 10 S or any other operating system obviously will run slower than performing the same operations on more expensive and more powerful hardware. The most important part of the Windows 10 S configuration is a setting that prevents it from running any apps that aren’t included with Windows 10 or available through the Windows Store.
Windows 10 S was initially announced in mid-2017 but did not gain much publicity because it provided little advantage over the existing versions of Windows 10 that were already available. The recent announcement focuses on the new low-cost hardware that will run Windows 10 S. Lower prices certainly will make the offering more attractive.
Applications to be installed on Windows 10 S systems must be delivered via the Microsoft Store. That’s right, you wan’t be able to install any “unapproved” applications, such as your favorite genealogy program. Want to install Legacy Family Tree or Family Tree Maker or RootsMagic or Family Historian or any other Windows genealogy program? You won’t be able to do so unless that program is available in the Microsoft Store. The same will be true for all Windows programs, not just genealogy applications.
Software producers can have their Windows applications available in the Microsoft Store by converting traditional desktop apps with Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, uploading the new version of the program to the Microsoft Store, and then paying a sales commission to Microsoft on every sale.
While not mentioned in Microsoft’s announcement, the new Windows 10 S systems will PROBABLY be able to run genealogy applications in the cloud, such as MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (“TNG”), WeRelate.org, WikiTree.com, and others. I have to stress the word “PROBABLY” until Microsoft releases more information. Of course, all those cloud-based applications already work well with Chromebooks.
Windows 10 S also prefers to save all data to OneDrive, not to the laptop’s local hard drive. Microsoft’s announcement doesn’t say if that “preference” can be overridden or not.
You can read more about Windows 10 S on Microsoft’s web site at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-s.
Will Microsoft be able to “crush the Chromebook rebellion?” I have no idea. However, it should be interesting to watch the battle between these two giant corporations: Microsoft and Google.