Microsoft is bolstering its Surface line of machines with something a bit different this summer, moving away from its usual Windows 10 offering.

The company has developed an alternative version of the operating system called Windows 10 S with performance enhancements aimed at the education sector, read more about it in our feature: What is Windows 10 S?

The first device to launch with Windows 10 S is the Surface Laptop, which hits the shops today, so we’ve been trying out Windows 10 S on this brand new device.

1. Windows 10 S really does feel just like the usual Windows 10
Visually and functionally, you can't tell any difference between Windows 10 S and Windows 10. That's because the differences are actually quite minimal, and even Microsoft itself doesn't consider Windows 10 S a different version of Windows 10 - in an interview with BT.com, a representative of Microsoft referred to Windows 10 S as more of a "configuration".

So from the login screen, to the Start Menu and the desktop, everything on Windows 10 S looks exactly the same as Windows 10 Pro.

The differences really kick in in when it comes to software. If you have some specialist software you use regularly, a Windows 10 S machine is probably not appropriate for you, given that the purpose of Windows 10 S is to provide the most secure platform by making software downloads only permittable through the Windows Store. By controlling access like this, Microsoft is able to verify all the software that is submitted to the Windows Store and prevent Windows 10 S users from downloading viruses or malware to their PCs.

Depending on what you use your machine for, this limitation on your choice of software might seem a problem. But with the likes of Spotify coming on board - while big names such as VLC and Adobe can already be downloaded - some people may not notice the difference. One exception, however, may be web browsers...

2. You'll need to get to grips with Microsoft Edge
If you use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as your usual web browser, you're going to have to learn how to use Microsoft Edge.

Changing web browsers is a real bugbear for most people, even if Microsoft Edge is a really good web browser. Anyone can submit applications to the Windows Store, so the fact Chrome and Firefox are missing is due to their respective owners and developers.

If you give Edge a chance you'll see it has a lot to offer - for some tricks and tips with Edge, click here.

3. You can download software outside of the Windows Store but it won't install
Yes, we tried. Although you can download anything from the web, once you try and install it you'll be presented with the following message:


Windows 10 S app screen

Unless you convert to Windows 10 Pro, you won't be able to download any software outside of the Windows Store at all, so it's not worth trying. The good thing is, it's free to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for a limited time, but you'll obviously be losing out on the security benefits of Windows 10 S.

4. Upgrading from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro is free until December 2017
Microsoft has decided to make it free to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro initially, which is probably a wise move for those who need to install software not offered in the Windows Store.

Upgrading is carried out through the Windows Store, is very simple to do and doesn't result in data loss (although you should always back up photos and personal documents just to be on the safe side). You won't be able to revert back to Windows 10 S with such ease, however, so be sure you’re making the right decision before you upgrade.

[Read more: How to restart Windows 10 and whatever happened to Safe Mode?]

5. You can upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro but you can't do the opposite
Upgrading is a one way road with no return from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro. You don't lose out on any features in carrying out the conversion, except the comfort of knowing apps and software you install are safer.

Windows 10 Pro

It's not possible to convert from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 S. The only way is to carry out a factory reset, which would also wipe your hard drive clean of any files you have stored.

6. Office 365 is free for a year
Microsoft’s Office 365 is available for free for a year on the Surface Laptop, saving you £60.

As the likes of Word and Excel are part of Office 365, this is a great offer to take up.

[Read more: Microsoft Office – Why are there so many different versions?]

7. You don't have to pay for a Touch Cover keyboard like other Surface devices
With Surface Pro devices, you normally have to pay for the Touch Cover keyboard separately as they are primarily tablets. But as the Surface Laptop is a laptop, the keyboard is permanently attached so you don't have to buy any additional accessories.

Surface Laptop Alcantara

To top it off, the latest keyboard design for the Surface is the best yet, with its Alcantara fabric feeling luxurious to rest your wrists on and easy to wipe clean.

8. The Surface Laptop is incredibly light
At just 1.25kg, the Surface Laptop is very portable so you can take it just about anywhere without the fear of back pain.

Surface Laptop

Despite this, the machine remains pretty powerful with a choice between an Intel Core i5 or an Intel Core i7 processor.

The Surface Laptop starts at £979 for the 128GB i5 4GB version and £1549 for the 256GB i7version from the Microsoft Store.

Get more tips and advice about getting the best from Windows 10