If you have seen adverts online or on television for certain Windows 10 laptops recently, you will have inevitably come across the fact they now offer a built-in VPN client. It sounds great, right? After all, VPN use is on the rise, and many of us will have considered installing a VPN for a variety of reasons.
The thing is, however, there is a marked difference between a VPN client and a VPN network. The former is really just a desktop client that helps you connect to a VPN network. Fundamentally, a VPN service is a secure server network, and Windows 10 gives you the means to access that but not the service/network itself.
In a way, we can compare it to a smart television with Netflix built-in. You will have seen adverts for those too, showing how you can access the streaming giant when you purchase this tv. But the fine print at the bottom of the screen reads: “Netflix Subscription Required”. That analogy is a little loose, but it serves to highlight what we mean here.
Many customers will believe they are getting a free VPN
Of course, we don’t think that trumpeting these claims is intended to be misleading, and most tech-savvy people would recognise the VPN client for what it is right away. But many more wouldn’t, and the attractive-sounding offer of a built-in VPN service might be a deal-breaker in a purchase.
The upshot is that you will have to still have to subscribe to a separate VPN network for your Windows 10 device. There is plenty of choices, of course, including free options. But it’s recommended to pay a few dollars a month for a subscription for more reliable service. If you use a Mac, SurfShark and CyberGhost work well. If you are looking for good deals for Google Chrome, then look these up before you decide.
Getting back to Windows 10 and the built-in client; it’s probably more important to point out the fact that the desktop client has limitations and restrictions rather than lament the fact it doesn’t give you access to a free VPN service.
Windows client is clunky for connections
One of the most glaring issues is with the connection profile. In a nutshell, the Windows client makes you set up a profile to connect to each server. This usually takes several minutes, after which the profile and connection are saved. Unless you want to spend the time making dozens of profiles, it severely limits the number of connections you can find.
If you compare this to traditional VPN client software, which automatically searches for the fastest server and connects you within seconds, then you can see why many users aren’t best pleased with Window’s client. Moreover, when you have spent time making a profile, there is no guarantee that the connection will work the next time. It should also be noted that the client isn’t what we would call user-friendly, and it takes a surprising bit of know-how to use it effectively.
In short, we are talking about flexibility here. So, not only is Windows 10 built-in VPN, not a VPN (Microsoft doesn’t claim as such, but you have to admit it’s misleading); the desktop client is also largely inferior to the desktop apps offered by VPN subscription services. Again, we are probably preaching to the choir here as many tech-savvy users will know this. But many more won’t.