The new Surface Laptop is no Chromebook

And Windows 10 S is no Chrome OS either.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

What were you thinking, Microsoft? The company's just-released Surface Laptop is meant to challenge Chromebooks, but at a starting price of $999, who the heck will buy it? It sure won't be schools, which Chromebook dominates now.

Windows 10 S

Windows 10 S and Surface Laptops are neither Chrome OS or Chromebook killers. They're another pair of Microsoft mistakes.

Sure, there have been premium-priced Chromebooks. I own two of them, the 2013 and 2015 Chromebook Pixel. But, you know what? The vast majority -- 90 percent plus -- of Chromebooks cost less than $300.

True, Microsoft claims its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners will sell low-priced laptops powered by Windows 10 S, formerly known as Windows for Clouds, but have you looked at Windows 10 S? Like Windows RT before it, it's junk.

Quick, what do you expect from any Windows PC? You expect a computer that will run all Windows programs right?

Not here! Look closer. Windows 10 S only runs built-in applications or programs from the Windows Store. Sure, third-party app developers can convert traditional desktop programs to the Universal Windows Platform with using conversion tools and make them available through the Store.

Who will bother? Porting applications is difficult. I think it's more than a little telling that Microsoft itself hasn't ported Office 365 to the Windows Store yet. You'd think it'd port that over before it releases the laptop or the operating system, but it didn't.

What that means in practice is that people who buy a Windows 10 S-powered laptop won't be able to run the applications they know and love. Avram Piltch, editor-in-chief of Laptop Magazine, points out that on Windows 10 S you can't run Visual Studio, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, Notepad++, Android Studio, Google Drive, Hipchat, OpenVPN, WhatsApp, and iTunes. You also can't run Quicken.

Oh, and if you need a specific assistive technology apps, the Windows 10 S FAQ helpfully suggests you "take additional steps to configure their operating system to Windows 10 Pro."

Microsoft also locks you into its Edge web browser and Bing search engine. Chrome? Firefox? Not here! Microsoft claims Edge is more secure than its rivals.

Please! Microsoft's lousy security record speaks for itself. As for Edge, one quick Google search later reveals Google itself reported a serious Edge and Internet Explorer 11 security hole, which Microsoft didn't fix in a timely manner in February. In March, the latest Pwn2Own competition showed how Edge could be used to bust out of Windows 10 clients running on VMware Workstation.

New day, same Microsoft security crap.

Oh, and when I say Microsoft locks you in to Edge and Bing, I mean it locks you in. Even if you do manage to install another browser, when you click on a link, Windows 10 S opens it with Edge. You also can't reset the search engine to Google, DuckDuckGo, or any other search engine.

Once upon a time, Microsoft made billions from locking people into its programs. Those days are long gone, and I don't see why Microsoft thinks it can come back.

I expect most people who buy a high-priced Surface Laptop to immediately upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro for $49. Windows 10 Home is not an option. But, what about the people who buy an inexpensive OEM Windows 10 S computer?

You and I understand that Windows 10 S is a limited, crippled version of Windows, but Joe Best Amazon Buy? No, he'll only know that he can't run his favorite app. He'll be ticked off. He'll send it back to the store and demand his money back because his computer is "broken."

The retailer, in term, will ship it back to the OEM and tell them to not bother sending any more Windows 10 S laptops. By this time next year, Windows 10 S will be a dead operating system running. In two years, it will join Windows ME, Microsoft Bob, and Windows RT on Microsoft's junk pile of totally failed operating environments.

Chromebooks and Chrome OS? They'll do just fine, thank you very much.

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