Windows 10 S is dead, long live S Mode

Microsoft introduced Windows 10 S along with the Surface Laptop just over ten months ago, but rumors that the pared-back version of the company's flagship operating system would go the way of Windows RT started swirling as soon as last month. This week, Microsoft Windows Corporate VP Joe Belfiore addressed those rumors with a blog post. In the post, Belfiore says Redmond received customer feedback that the "Windows 10 S" name was confusing to customers and partners. The company and its partners will instead ship future PCs with "Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro with S Mode enabled." Users will be able to disable S Mode at no charge.

The blog post leaves a number of important questions unanswered. Belfiore does not explicitly say whether Microsoft and its partners will stop selling machines with the old, separate version of Windows 10 S installed, nor does he offer a specific date for the release of the functionally-equivalent S Mode to Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro users.

The blog post also lacks details about what current Windows 10 S machine owners can expect in the future. Windows 10 S users in an educational setting can currently upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free, but "a fee may apply" to everyone else. Belfiore's blog post also lacks any details specific to Windows 10 S on Always Connected Windows PCs built around Qualcomm's ARM Snapdragon SoCs.

Belfiore goes on to say that his employer expects the "majority of customers to enjoy the benefits of Windows 10 in S Mode." Windows 10 S currently prohibits the installation of applications except for those from Microsoft's Sears-esque Windows Store. One of the largest gaps in app store coverage is the lack of choices for internet browsers; Windows 10 S users are pretty much stuck with the Edge browser bundled with the OS. We're fairly certain that the majority of Windows 10 users still won't be satisfied with S Mode if it precludes the use of their favorite software.

The positioning of Windows 10 S is a little odd right now. Belfiore says in his blog post that over 20 different devices have shipped with Windows 10 S pre-installed. Despite introduction on the expensive Surface Laptop shown above, Windows 10 S has primarily been found on low-cost machines for the education sector. In any case, it seems like those who aren't fans of Microsoft's streamlined Windows experience will soon be able to get rid of it with a click of the mouse.

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