Microsoft's Surface Laptop can be used as a high-end development machine using Visual Studio and other dev tools unless Microsoft makes them available in its Store. After all, they're essentials for students and teachers.
Microsoft has just welcome a new member in the Surface family simply named as ‘Surface Laptop’ at its recently concluded What’s Next event held in New York. However, the even bigger announcement of the day was the launch of the new Windows 10 S.
To keep things simple, the new Windows 10 S is modeled along the same lines as Google’s Chrome OS. What that means is that Windows 10 S laptops will only run apps sourced from the Windows Store so as on the Surface Laptop.
Windows 10 S is locked down to Store apps only. Here’s why?
That again is a boon but also has the potential to ruin the game if the pieces don’t fall into places well enough. Coming to the positives first, the obvious advantage of Windows 10 S devices like Surface Laptop being compatible with only apps from the Store obviously leads to a safer running environment.
Microsoft stated the apps are made to run in a containerised environment, keeping them off bounds with other parts of the OS. While it allows for a safe running environment, the fact that the apps don’t initiate hundreds of background processes ensures things remain as speedy even after a few years of usage, as it has been on day one.
Even in Windows 10, After installing Win32 essentials, locking down the OS to Store apps only could be a nice practice to avoid crapware!
Windows 10 S is different from Windows RT
However, so much for all the hype that Windows 10 S has managed to create around itself, there is also no denying the fact that the version is evoking memories of another Windows version that even Microsoft would be eager to forget, Windows RT.
And reason number one being that like the Windows 10 S, the RT too was only compatible with apps from the Windows Store.
However, Microsoft is keen to emphasize that the similarities end just there. And the biggest differentiator being that while Windows RT was limited to ARM chipsets, the Windows 10 S is compatible with x86 processors. The latter attribute makes the 10 S match up to the traditional desktop apps (via Project Centennial) present in the Windows Store. Towards that, Microsoft has also announced it is bringing the Office 365 suite as apps to the Windows Store.
Everything else with the Windows 10 S tallies up just fine with the Windows 10. Those include Cortana, Windows Hello and so on. Above all, you have the liberty to choose from desktop or tablet mode, unlike the tablet mode that the Windows RT was locked at.
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop has immense power, just upgrade to Windows 10 Pro
With the Surface Laptop being designed along the same lines as the Google Chromebook, it is only natural Microsoft kept it closely tied to its own ecosystem. And there is a good reason to do that (safety and top notch performance), except that the ecosystem isn’t as robust yet as that of Google’s.
And the biggest impediment can be the Edge browser and Bing search that the version defaults to. So, any online search that you need to resort to or any browser requests yielded during computation will always lead to Bing and Edge respectively. No issues with that except those aren’t as matured yet as Google search or Chrome browser.
So unless Microsoft shores up its act with its Bing search or Edge browser, those grouses are here to stay. Also, with neither Chrome nor Google search featuring in the Windows Store, opting for Surface Laptop will entail changing your search and browser preferences to Bing and Edge respectively.
Another drawback with the Surface Laptop that can seriously restrict its usage in high-end development tasks is its inherent inability to run Microsoft’s own dev tools like Visual Studio Code, .Net Core SDK and tooling. If Microsoft sees it as an opportunity to take on Google’s Chromebook, they should bring these toolsets to the Windows Store, after all, they’re essentials for schools; else Windows 10 S devices would only be useful for consuming content, not creating it.
Although, Microsoft mentions you can still opt to download apps outside of the Windows Store but you will have to upgrade to Windows Pro. Upgrading comes free on the Surface Laptop, or for that matter, on any Windows 10 S device costing upward of $799, though only till end-2017. Else, the process will attract a fee of $49.