Microsoft just announced a new laptop Surface device, it’s $1000 and comes with an intentionally broken version of their Windows 10 operating system. Matt Weinberger:
The one thing to know is that the Surface Laptop is the poster child for Windows 10 S, a new version of the operating system that Microsoft says is more streamlined and secure — and offers better performance and battery life — than the standard Windows 10.
The trade-off for those perks is that Windows 10 S won’t let you install any software that’s not from the Windows Store app market, which means that, at the very least, you wouldn’t be able to install the Google Chrome web browser.
If you’re not down with that, Microsoft will let you switch any Windows 10 S computer, including the Surface Laptop, to the regular Windows 10 Pro for a one-time $49 fee — less if you’re on a tablet or something else with a smaller screen. But if you do that, Microsoft says, it can’t guarantee you’ll get the improved battery life and performance.
$50 to fix the operating system on a $1000 laptop! This loses all of the benefits of Microsoft’s touch-enabling of their operating system, and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone buy one of these devices.
There’s a comparison to be made here to the iPad, but I don’t think that works out. The iPad was always locked to an app store, this version of Windows 10 is more like Windows RT. RT was the version of Windows for ARM-processor based Surface devices that couldn’t run x86 applications. It was based on Windows 8, limited to apps from Microsoft’s app store, and a few custom applications they produced outside of it like Office RT.
Windows RT was shitcanned because nobody wanted that environment, so this is another attempt at the same thing but based on Windows 10.
Epic’s Tim Sweeney:
I guess this is my OS now. pic.twitter.com/sLQRugzt4W
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) May 2, 2017
Twitter readers will know that about 6 months ago my Windows 10 user account became unable to access any Windows 10 functions that require a Microsoft account. That’s their app store, the Xbox app, and so on. I get this error whenever I try to log in to my Microsoft account on that Windows 10 user account:
That “Send feedback” link is the only other option besides cancelling out and giving up in the dialog that Windows gives you when your login fails. “Send feedback” takes you to the Windows 10 Feedback Hub app, which, wouldn’t you know it, requires a login:
Depending on how their bug reporting works in Windows, they’ll never see any user feedback about this issue because you can’t report it directly to them through the tools that you’re giving as a Windows 10 user. Can you imagine if a Surface laptop user had this same problem on Windows 10 S? They would be furious, they couldn’t get new applications from the Windows app store.
My story got worse.
I contacted Microsoft’s Windows support team over their text support chat to get assistance with the problem after spending a few hours looking into it. After going through a few different options to debug the problem their technical support agent offered to remotely access the computer and try to resolve the issue.
The agent accessed the computer and we went through a few troubleshooting steps and then asked me what the two-factor authentication on my Microsoft account was. After I explained it, he started using Google’s search engine to research two-factor auth in my web browser.
He loaded up a Google help page that explained how their two-factor authentication system works for users.
Support agents are supposed to research problems with their computers, not the one requesting support, and Google’s help pages aren’t going to be very useful for understanding Microsoft’s two-factor solution.
That’s all very strange, but it gets better. The Microsoft support agent then disabled two-factor authentication on my Microsoft account without asking if that was OK to do first.
It’s a reasonable step to figure out if the problem with the Microsoft account logging in to Windows 10‘s app store and other functionality is the extra step in two-factor authentication, but disabling the option on the Microsoft account puts that user at risk. Almost worse was that at no point did the Microsoft support agent remind me to re-enable two-factor auth.
Finally, the support agent gave up and gave me the only option of creating a new Windows 10 user account. That is not a good solution.
I know what I would think if I were reading this, “That’s not Microsoft support!” It certainly was. They called to apologize a few days after I contacted Microsoft through a different channel with a complaint about what happened.
Still can’t log in to my Microsoft account with that Windows 10 user account.
I’m fortunate enough to be technically literate and comfortable with downloading applications manually, but a Windows 10 S user whose computer has this bug is just left with a completely broken computer unless they make a new user account or pay the $50 ransom Microsoft is charging to get access to the rest of their computer’s functionality. Unless that ransom is payable through the Windows app store, in which case they’re shit out of luck.