Elementary-age STEM education is crucial if today’s kids are going to have the skills they need to explore tomorrow’s workplace revolution. That means laptops for every child — which is an incredibly expensive proposition. Part of that cost come from hardware, obviously, but part of the problem is the operating system.
That’s where Windows 10 S comes in. It’s designed to run on cheaper, smaller computers. The sorts that schools can afford (including a Microsoft laptop that retails at $189).
Basically, this OS is a stripped-down version of Windows 10 with a particular eye for the challenges educators face. Schools can configure each computer simply by slotting in a USB stick with a set configuration on it, so redoing them each new school year will be a snap.
The biggest compromise is what software you can use with the stripped-down version of the OS. Instead of running all apps, educators will only be able to download and use what’s in the Microsoft Store. That’s the biggest change to Windows here, making it a whole heck of a lot like Apple’s gated community of apps as opposed to the free-for-all that we all know Windows computers to be.
Of course, this may be perfect for the education market, as it offers educators much more control over what kids are using and when they’re using it.
That said, though, Windows 10 S isn’t that different from Windows 10. Anything you connect to your computer that works in the full-featured version will work in this version, and Microsoft isn’t shutting the door on competing products. During their presentation, the company very clearly signaled that they’d happily put Chrome on the Windows Store if Google wanted it there.
The main question for Microsoft now becomes how they help get laptops and their new operating systems into every school, and how they use that to encourage STEM. They’ve already started by offering an “education edition” of Minecraft, which will let teachers use the popular building game to teach kids about physics, architecture, and other scientific topics. Microsoft will surely need help getting the computers in front of kids and developing the educational tools to make those computers the gateway to better STEM education, but Windows 10 S is a very promising first step.
(via The Verge)