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Microsoft To Add Windows 10 S Mode to All Editions and Drop Switch Fee

Windows 10 in "S mode" soon will be available in all Windows 10 editions, and Microsoft plans to drop a proposed charge for users wanting to switch from S mode.

Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president for Windows, described those changes briefly in a Wednesday announcement. When the next Windows 10 update arrives, it'll be possible to buy a new Windows 10 PC with S mode, regardless of the edition.

"Starting with the next update to Windows 10, coming soon, customers can choose to buy a new Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro PC with S mode enabled, and commercial customers will be able to deploy Windows 10 Enterprise with S mode enabled," Belfiore explained.

Windows 10 S, in essence, was "Windows 10 Pro in S mode," as veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley previously reported. Now the S mode option will be available in Windows 10 Home and Enterprise editions, too. Presumably, it'll be in the Education edition, as well, since the Education edition is nearly the same thing as the Enterprise edition.

Microsoft was planning to charge Windows 10 S users $49 to switch to Windows 10 Pro after March 31 after initially offering a free upgrade. However, Belfiore suggested that switching from S mode will be free.

"If a customer does want to switch out of S mode, they will be able to do so at no charge, regardless of edition," Belfiore stated.

Microsoft's Windows 10 S FAQ has explained that switching from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro is a one-way switch. It can't be undone, and presumably that could be true for other Windows 10 editions.

A Microsoft spokesperson clarified that it's a one-way switch just for consumer Windows 10 users.

It's designed to be a one-way switch for consumers. Customers can easily switch from Windows 10 Home in S mode and Windows 10 Pro in S Mode to Home and Pro respectively. The switch is consistent with our support policies for Surface devices, and we do provide a recovery image so the device can be reset to its original factory condition if needed.

As for when it will be possible to get S mode on the various Windows 10 editions, the "next update" of Windows 10 arrival date, as mentioned by Belfiore, is ambiguous, since Windows 10 gets updates every month. Likely, he is referring to "Redstone 4," the code name for the next major update in Microsoft's semiannual channel release scheme for Windows 10, which consists of two big feature updates arriving each year in the spring and fall.

Media accounts are already referring to Redstone 4's official name as the "Spring Creators Update" (version 1803) because of some code that was unearthed in an early test version. Version 1803 of Windows 10 is expected to arrive in April, according to an article by Foley.

Windows 10 S is an operating system that only runs Windows Store applications and the Internet Explorer or Edge browsers. It must use Bing as the default search engine, as well. It can't run older Win32 applications, such as Windows 7 apps. The S mode form of the operating system is aimed at the education market and users looking for low-maintenance devices, somewhat like Google's Chrome OS on Chromebooks.

Belfiore commented that Microsoft was adding S mode to the various Windows 10 editions because the Windows 10 S name was considered "confusing for both customers and partners." Microsoft's device partners have produced "more than 20 devices with Windows 10 S enabled," he noted. Microsoft also puts Windows 10 S on its Surface laptop. Windows 10 S is available on so-called "budget friendly" devices from Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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