Windows 10 S will be locked to Edge browser – Chrome won’t be an option

Never mind Microsoft Edge being locked as the default browser in Windows 10 S, as we heard last week – it's now emerged that Edge's biggest rival, and the most popular desktop web browser in the world, Chrome, won’t even be available to install on the lightweight version of Microsoft’s desktop OS.

As we discussed last week, the central point of Windows 10 S is to restrict the operating system to apps from the Windows Store so Microsoft can better police security – but as spotted by ZDNet, the store’s policies will actually forbid Chrome (or other third-party browsers, such as Firefox) from gaining entry.

Several sections in the list of Windows Store policies call for apps to “not jeopardize or compromise user security” (unsurprisingly), but more to the point, specify that: “Apps that browse the web must use the appropriate HTML and JavaScript engines provided by the Windows Platform.”

So if Google did want to turn Chrome into a universal app for use with Windows 10 S, the browser wouldn’t be able to use its own engines. In other words, it wouldn’t be Chrome anymore, but just a shell of Google’s browser using Microsoft’s HTML and JavaScript engines.

ZDNet also cited a developer who had sent their Chromium-based desktop browser to be approved by Microsoft, and had it refused, being told that browsers represent a particular security risk, and that: “They are secure only if, like Edge, they're true UWP apps, so they run in a sandbox environment and they don't have access to the overall system.”

The upshot of all this is that while these store policies remain in place, Chrome – and indeed other third-party browsers – won’t be coming to Windows 10 S. Or at least, if they do, the apps in question will only be superficial lookalikes.

Fair turnabout?

As we touched on last week, you could argue this is fair turnabout: Google did, after all, build Chrome OS around its own browser, and it’s also a locked-down ecosystem (although these days, if you have one of the Chromebooks that support Android apps it’s theoretically possible to use a third-party browser, although there’s no guarantee it'll function smoothly).

And Microsoft is certainly arguing that this is an important move in terms of the security of Windows 10 S, which is also a fair point. But it’s clearly also a major advantage for the company to keep its browser rivals away from its desktop OS.

Microsoft further notes that folks can simply shift over to the full-fat version of Windows if they want more choice. The company stated: “If people would like to access apps from other stores and services, they can switch to Windows 10 Pro at any time.”

It’s also worth bearing in mind that as well as Edge being locked as the default browser on Windows 10 S, Bing is locked as the default search engine, so you can’t switch to Google for your searches either.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).