If you've traditionally avoided keeping your MacBook in a backpack or messenger bag because of its size, this could be the perfect solution.Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider's Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners, including Amazon. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback.Microsoft just introduced Windows 10 S, a new version of the operating system aimed at students of all ages that promises higher performance, better battery life, and tighter security.Windows 10 S, which Microsoft unveiled at a Tuesday event in New York City, isn't intended for existing PCs. Instead, expect Windows 10 S to debut on cheaper laptops and tablets from PC manufacturers that want to offer more affordable computers with more bang for their buck.
The S stands for "streamlined, significant performance, and security," Microsoft Windows boss Terry Myerson said onstage at Microsoft's event. Myerson said the S also stands for the "soul" of the operating system.This new version of Windows 10 is a direct shot at Chrome OS, Google's lightweight, browser-based operating system, which has led cheaper Chromebooks to unseat Apple as the No. 2 player in the global education market, behind Microsoft Windows, in only about five years.But the perks of Windows 10 S come with a trade-off: You'll be able to download and run apps from only the Windows Store, the app store built into Windows 10. That means, at the very least, that you're stuck with Microsoft Edge, the browser built into Windows 10, since Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox aren't (currently) in the Windows Store.The full desktop versions of Microsoft Office are coming to the Windows Store "soon," Myerson said.However, this approach has some ancillary benefits. Because Windows 10 S won't let you run any software that hasn't been vetted by Microsoft for the Windows Store, the chance of getting infected by nasty viruses or malware is greatly reduced. That's a big deal for schools — and anyone nontechnical.And the inability to install outside software also greatly reduces the amount of stuff running in the background. That means that, much like Google's Chromebooks, Windows 10 S-powered PCs can boot up quickly and get snappier performance with less slowdown.
Finally, Windows 10 S has one big thing that Chromebooks don't: If you decide the whole Windows Store thing is too limiting, you can pay a relatively small fee to upgrade to a full version of Windows 10 Pro, at which point it becomes your normal, everyday Windows computer — although you theoretically would lose out on better battery life and guaranteed higher performance.Laptops running Windows 10 S will be available later this year, starting at $229, from a who's who of PC manufacturers. Those new PCs will come with Office 365 for education and a subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition.Google Chrome is notorious for how much battery it consumes — but Google says it's taking steps to fix that.In an update to the web browser discussed in a blog post on Tuesday, Google says it will further "throttle" tabs you have open in the background that aren't being used — giving them less resources so they consume less power. (We saw the update on Engadget.)Right now, Google software engineer Alexander Timin writes, these background tabs "consume a third of Chrome's power usage on desktop."That's a lot of power that's potentially going to waste, given the common habit of opening dozens of tabs and forgetting about them.The new throttling mechanism identifies tabs that are using too much processing power in the background, and limits how much they can have access to. The result is "25% fewer busy background tabs" — saving on processing power and energy consumption, which should prolong device battery life.
It also won't touch tabs that are maintaining a real-time connection or playing music. So if you've got the web version of Spotify playing, for example, the throttling won't cause problems for that.The ultimate plan is apparently for "background tabs to be fully suspended" — causing huge savings in power.Chrome's battery-guzzling is a constant pain point for users, and has been by competitors to attack the web browser. Microsoft, in a video advertising its rival browser Edge, put Chrome in a battery test against other web browsers, all running on identical laptops. Edge lasted seven hours and 22 minutes — versus just four hours 19 minutes for Chrome, three hours less.On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 S, a streamlined version of the operating system designed to take on Google's low-cost Chromebooks in the classroom. It's going to ship on a bunch of laptops intended for the student. So what's the difference between the original-flavor Windows 10 and this new Windows 10 S? The basic answer is: Not much. The actual experience looks to be very much the same between the two, from the Start menu, to the Cortana virtual assistant, to the focus on touchscreen and stylus features. When Windows 10-powered virtual reality headsets start hitting the market later this year, they'll support both versions, too.
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Windows 10 S is focused on speed, better battery life, and higher performance — Microsoft says that it boots up in seconds. Windows 10 S is designed to run well even on lower-end laptops: Microsoft recommends a relatively modest 4GB of RAM and 64GB of hard drive space for classroom machines. Laptops running Windows 10 S will start at around $229, from companies like HP, Samsung, and Acer. The tradeoff is that Windows 10 S can only run apps from the Windows Store. The positives are that it makes it basically impossible to download malware or viruses, but it also means you're limited to Microsoft-approved apps. That includes Spotify, Facebook, Netflix, and soon, Microsoft Office. Along those same lines, you're limited to the Microsoft Edge browser on Windows 10 S, at least until other companies like Google choose to list their browsers in the Windows Store. If you decide you need your standard Windows apps, which might include Google Chrome or the Steam online gaming platform, you can upgrade to the full Windows 10 Pro for $49. Microsoft Windows exec Joe Belfiore tells CNET that "S" to "Pro" is a one-way switch, so be advised. Otherwise...yeah. Pretty much the same, apart from a different default desktop wallpaper.
The flagship Windows 10 S machine is the Surface Laptop, a new $999 gadget from Microsoft itself, shipping on June 15th. That's going to be our first real taste of Windows 10 S, so stay tuned.The new MacBook Pro is a great laptop, but its battery life falls short of Apple's claims.On Apple's specs sheet for the new MacBook Pro, the company says the laptop gets up to 10 hours of use on a single battery charge. But in my tests with the 13-inch model with Touch Bar, I only got about eight hours if I kept the screen brightness at a lower level. I got a little over six hours with the brightness all the way up, my preferred setting.Other reviewers had similar experiences. The Verge's Jacob Kastrenakes wrote that he only got about five or six hours of battery life per charge.Beyond the obvious disappointment, this is also a bummer because Apple removed the clever MagSafe charger from the MacBook Pro in favor of the new Thunderbolt 3 port. The MagSafe charger magnetically connected to the computer so it wouldn't ruin anything if your tripped over it. The Thunderbolt charger fits snugly inside the port and doesn't pop out as easily as MagSafe chargers.
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It's also a major twist for Apple, which tends to understate battery life specs for MacBooks and then surprise everyone when the device exceeds expectations. For example, Apple says the MacBook Air gets up to 12 hours of battery life, but many found it can get up to 14 hours.This week, Microsoft made a pair of closely-related announcements: First, the $999 Surface Laptop, a MacBook rival pitched at college students, and second, the lightweight Windows 10 S operating system, which will also power the new laptop.In both cases, it's a big furthering of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's longtime insistence that the key to Windows 10 succeeding is just making sure people like Windows 10. Building a slick new laptop, and a super-fast new version of Windows 10 to power it, might well win over some Mac converts. The upside for Microsoft is pretty strong, too, competitively speaking. The Surface Laptop looks to reinforce Microsoft's challenge to Apple as the premium hardware manufacturer of choice, and Windows 10 S is a shot at Google's fast-growing Chrome OS. But in both cases, Microsoft is running right up against the limits of its Windows strategy, too. And whether these initiatives succeed or fail will say a lot about the future of the Windows operating system. Here's why. Succeed or fail, all eyes will be on the Surface Laptop as a bellwether of Microsoft's ambitions in hardware.The unveiling of the Surface Laptop came less than a week after Microsoft's latest earnings, which revealed that revenue in the Surface hardware division had shrunk by $285 million, or 26%, as other companies started releasing their own, price-competitive rivals to the Surface Pro tablet.
While there's a case to be made that having more Surface competitors is a good thing for Windows (after all, Microsoft is a software company first and foremost), it's not a great look for Microsoft, which insists it's in the hardware business for the long haul.Just as concerning, Microsoft's flagship 18-month-old Surface Pro 4 tablet, the anchor of the Surface lineup, is nearing the end of its lifecycle — and the rumored Surface Pro 5 is nowhere to be found. Furthermore, Microsoft has always walked a fine line with the Surface hardware lineup: The goal of the Surface business, Microsoft has long said, is to build hardware that pushes Windows forward. The original Surface tablet was built because PC manufacturers were reluctant to add touchscreens, for instance.But making its own PCs puts Microsoft into competition with the companies it relies on to build Windows devices. While just about every PC manufacturer is building at least one laptop based on the Windows 10 S operating system, it's going to be the Surface Laptop that gets the spotlight. That could potentially alienate partners and discourage them from embracing the new Windows.
At the same time, Windows 10 S comes at a tipping point for the company. With Windows 10, Microsoft has challenged Apple's position as the premiere platform for creatives and other power users. But Google's Chrome OS is the most popular operating system in American classrooms, and Windows 10 S is answering that challenge.See, Windows 10 S promises big boosts to performance, security, and battery life, powering low-cost laptops and tablets that can present a challenge to Google's Chromebooks.Those perks come at the cost of only being able to download apps from the Windows Store. On the surface (har har) that seems like a limitation, which it will be for many Windows 10 S users. It means no Google Chrome, Steam, or automatic Dropbox file syncing on Windows 10 S. But if and when Windows 10 S is a hit, it stands to attract more and more applications to the Windows Store, which is, as of now, relatively lacking compared to the Apple App Store or Google Play. Microsoft has released tools to make it easier to bring traditional PC software to the Windows Store, too, and is converting Microsoft Office to prove it. Windows 10 S also won't let you change your search engine away from Google, a boon to Microsoft's Bing.