What the Windows 10 S Upgrade Extension Really Means (Premium)

As I noted yesterday, Microsoft has extended its free Windows 10 Pro upgrade offer for Windows 10 S users by another three months. What does this say about the state of Windows 10 S?

Honestly? Nothing.

Like Microsoft, I noted this change in a post about Surface Laptop availability. And it's easy, given Microsoft's tendency to cherry-pick the information it shares externally, to see that as an attempt at burying the real story. I mean, Microsoft doesn't even mention this grace period extension in its own headline about this subject, as I did.

Thus, my knee-jerk reaction---"Windows 10 S is DOA"---was the same as yours, I'd imagine: Windows 10 S is such a non-starter that Microsoft has been forced to extend the availability of the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Interacting with others on Twitter, that's certainly the reaction I saw. Some even speculated that the version of iTunes that's coming to the Windows Store has been delayed, as if that would somehow bear on the masses trying to use Windows 10 S today.

But in reflecting on this change, and in re-reading what Microsoft did write about it, I find myself in a more nuanced position. This is Microsoft simply doing the right thing. And instead of silently extending the deadline later in the year, they've actually communicated the change in the time and place that makes the most sense for its customers.

So let's re-read Microsoft's description of this change.

"For those that find they need an application that isn’t yet available in the Store and must be installed from another source, we're extending the ability to switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for free until March 31, 2018," the software giant explains. "We hope this provides increased flexibility for those people searching for the perfect back-to-school or holiday gift."

In other words, in a post in which Microsoft is announcing an availability expansion of its most desirable Surface portable PC ever, one which is (yes, inexplicably) based on Windows 10 S, the firm is likewise announcing that it is safe for people to buy these machines now. Whether they're for back-to-school or a holiday gift. Some won't unwrap that expensive gift until, say, Christmas Day, just 6 short days before the initial offer expires. So this change makes a Surface Laptop purchase a safer bet. Today. And throughout the holiday period.

And that, ultimately, is what matters most. Not the (supposedly) lost revenue from some future and imagined Windows 10 Pro upgrades, but the (very real) lost sales that might have otherwise resulted from not doing this.

If you listen to Windows Weekly, you know that Mary Jo and I often discuss this type of internal (to Microsoft) calculation, where the firm must disadvantage one of its offerings to benefit another. These decisions are made pragmatically. And today, in the wake of the Consumer Reports reliability debacle, making sure that shaky consumer confidence in Surface is rectified matters a...

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