Microsoft has confirmed that its new, streamlined operating system Windows 10 S will not allow users to change the default internet browser or search engine. The decision means that owners of Windows 10 S-powered devices – such as the brand new Surface Laptop – will be forced to use Microsoft's Edge browser and the Bing search engine.
Announced at an education-centric event on 2 May, Microsoft's Windows 10 S is the Redmond giant's answer to Google's Chrome OS and an attempt to muscle away market share from the popular Chromebook range.
Microsoft noted during the New York showcase that its new OS will differ from the standard Windows 10 Pro experience by restricting downloadable apps to those verified by and sourced from the Windows Store.
This walled-garden approach is similar to Chrome OS which relies on Chrome extensions, web apps, and the recent addition of Android apps via the Google Play Store. As Chrome OS is primarily based on the web equivalent, Chromebook users are stuck with the titular browser.
Microsoft's approach, meanwhile, does allow users to download Windows Store-approved browsers, although at present this does not include desktop apps for popular browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. However, even the alternatives which are available – such as Opera – are unable to be registered as a default browser, meaning HTML and app links will always redirect back to Edge.
Yet while this was always a likely scenario considering the stripped-back ecosystem on Microsoft's new OS platform, making Bing the default search provider will raise more than a few eyebrows –especially considering the fact that Microsoft's regular Edge browser allows this, and that Chrome OS includes an option to switch to other default search engines, including Bing.
Luckily for Surface Laptop buyers, there is a way of bypassing the restriction: upgrading to Windows 10 Pro.
As stated in the Q&A, "you can switch to Windows 10 Pro easily at any time through the Windows Store for an affordable price," which would then open the doors to desktop apps unavailable through Microsoft's store.
Doing so does run the risk of upsetting Surface boss Panos Panay, however. In a blog post released following the Surface Laptop's announcement, Panay wrote: "If you need to use an app that isn't in the Windows Store, in just a few clicks can go to the Windows Store and switch to Windows 10 Pro. But you shouldn't. This device, this OS, they're made for each other, and together they offer so much. It's everything you love about Windows, Office, and Surface, made pure and elegant in an unbelievably thin and light package."