Window 10 S—the “S” stands for “short,” which is a rough description of how long this alternate version of Microsoft’s latest operating system lasted in the company’s ecosystem. Announced at a Microsoft event in May of last year, Windows 10 S didn’t even make it to its first birthday before Microsoft opted to rejigger its approach.
Instead of offering this stand-alone version of Windows for educational customers, which can only load apps and games downloaded from the Windows 10 Store, Microsoft is now planning to give most versions of Windows 10 the “S” treatment. According to Neowin, the company is transforming Windows 10 S into a dedicated “S Mode” for Windows 10 Home, Pro, and Enterprise—same restrictions, greater availability.
In true Microsoft fashion, moving around different versions of Windows is going to be a little confusing. As Thurrott reports, Windows 10 owners using the Home version of the operating system will be able to switch from S Mode to a regular version of Windows Home completely free. However, if you purchase and install Windows 10 Pro S, or buy a laptop with it preinstalled, you’ll have to pony up an additional $49 to unlock the full version of Windows 10 Pro.
That’s assuming, of course, that your average S Mode user wants to do more. We’re a little surprised to see just how many Windows 10 S users are perfectly content with their more limited operating system.
“On third-party devices, Microsoft says that 60% of users remain on Windows 10 S which is a lot higher than I thought it would be but when users do switch, it’s almost immediately. The company says 60% of those who switch, do so within 24hrs of having the device but if they don’t switch in the first seven days, 83% remain running in S mode,” writes Thurrott’s Brad Sams.
These figures only come from third-party laptop sales, however, not from users who purchased Microsoft’s Surface laptop. It’s unclear just how much that data might affect these results, but it’s certainly possible that owners of Microsoft’s power laptop were less likely to only run Windows Store apps on it.
It’s unclear exactly when Microsoft will officially debut S Mode, but Thurrott notes that it’s likely to pop up when the company debuts new Windows SKUs and pricing for its partners. Expect to see that around April and May.