What does the S in Windows 10 S stand for?

Windows 10 S

Microsoft is the old master of awkward branding. It called the third iteration of its game console Xbox One; it launched Windows NT and Windows RT without anyone having the first clue what either of those weird initialisms stood for; and now we have Windows 10 S – another head-scratcher from Redmond’s ever-enigmatic branding wonks.

In the absence of any official explanation, here are a few suggestions of what the S might actually stand for:

Windows 10 Schools

Things have changed a bit since the days of Grange Hill. You can’t drum algebra into spotty oiks by throwing board rubbers at their heads or make them do PE in their pants. Today, everything must be explained via interactive whiteboards, with the sproglets swapping exercise books for laptops or tablets. The problem from Microsoft is Google has stolen its lunch money, tempting headteachers with dead cheap, easy-to-maintain Chromebooks. Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s attempt at a fightback, a locked-down version of Windows that won’t let the little toerags take advantage of a supply teacher and install Grand Theft Auto while he’s not looking. At least, not unless they can find GTA in the Windows Store, which brings us to…

Windows 10 Store

Windows Store
Top of the shop: Slotomania will appeal to religious gamblers

You want your apps to run on Windows 10 S? You’ll have to slip the doorman a nifty first. Yes, Microsoft is only allowing apps that appear in the Windows Store to run on Windows 10 S, and it will pocket 30% of the proceeds, thank you very much. The problem is the Windows Store is very much the Woolworth’s of app stores – thinly stocked with the stuff that first appeared in the bigger chains (namely Apple and Android) months ago. Still, who isn’t gagging to take on a sexy pirate and Jesus on Slotomania’s (top right) fruit machines, eh?

Windows 10 Security

The problem with full-blown Windows is you can download practically anything on it: spyware, malware, knitwear patterns. Windows 10 S will be a much more tightly controlled system, meaning your dad can’t accidentally download a botnet when he tries to watch Harry Secombe on YouTube. Random, nefarious executables won’t run; email attachments won’t secretly install in the background; the USB stick your kids found outside Sainsbury’s won’t upload your passwords to a teenager in Vladivostok. At least, that’s the theory.

Windows 10 Sting

Does the S stand for Sting? Maybe The Police can investigate? (Pic: Piotr Drabik)

Massive in the 90s, inoffensive, can keep going for hours without a break – Windows has much in common with the Tantric Toon. Perhaps the S really stands for Sting? Perhaps not.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.