Microsoft has a history of trying to push dumbed down versions of Windows as a budget option. Remember Vista Home Basic and Windows RT? Microsoft would like to forget them, but it still announced Windows 10 S last year with a number of restrictions that made it far less useful than the standard Windows 10 versions. Now, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore confirms previous rumors that 10 S will cease to exist as a separate version of Windows.
The pitch for Windows 10 S was similar to Windows RT — this version of the OS would be limited to apps in the Windows Store. This restriction allows the OS to more effectively manage background processes to preserve battery life and performance, but all the programs you’d normally download from the internet would not work on Windows 10 S.
Microsoft made 10 S the default on its Surface Laptop (above), and several other computer makers followed suit with midrange laptops. Thus far, Microsoft has allowed users with Windows 10 S to upgrade to the standard edition free of charge. The deadline for that was originally set for the end of 2017, but Microsoft extended it by three months to the end of March 2018. The upgrade fee will supposedly be $50 thereafter. Microsoft hasn’t talked about the success of Windows 10 S, but it’s probably a flop if it’s simply being folded into other versions.
In a leak earlier this year, it was alleged that Microsoft planned to stop producing a dedicated 10 S version of Windows. Instead, there would simply be a 10 S mode in other versions of the platform. Microsoft didn’t have anything to say at the time, but now Microsoft exec Joe Belfiore confirms on Twitter that 10 S is becoming a mode.
Windows 10 S mode, which will probably get a new name, will ship with home and enterprise versions of the OS. It’s unlikely many home users will want to switch over to 10 S mode, but businesses and schools could see benefits by preventing systems from picking up malware and cluttered software that slows machines down. Of course, you need to first ensure all the necessary tools are available in the Windows Store.
There are several unknowns that can’t be addressed in a single tweet. Will Microsoft allow systems to ship with S mode enabled? Will Microsoft start charging users of 10 S for upgrades as it has planned? We may have to wait for Microsoft’s next big Windows rollout to find out the answers to these questions.