When Microsoft announced Windows 10 S, it was immediately clear that this SKU didn’t fit well into Microsoft’s lineup. It was pitched as a complete product and that it could also be upgraded (for free) to a full version of Windows but based on documents I was able to view, Microsoft is changing course with Redstone 4 to make the idea of S fit better into the company’s portfolio of Windows 10.
Microsoft pitches Windows 10 S as being streamlined for security/performance and while this isn’t new information, what we do have is a better understanding of how often users switch away from S.
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.
Keep in mind that these stats are for low-end PCs as the only high-end device running the OS is the Surface Laptop which was excluded from the data.
Going forward, Windows 10 S will no longer be a SKU offered by Microsoft. Instead, what they will be doing is offering S mode for all iterations of Windows 10 and frankly, this is a much better approach to the configurations.
For Home and Education SKUs, you will be able to upgrade from Home S, to Home for free but Pro users going from Pro S to Pro will be charged $49. On the commercial side, Pro S is only available with Core, Value, Entry, and Small Tablet (if this doesn’t make sense, check out my other post here) with Core+ and Workstations being left out of the offering.
Here is the odd part about this change, Microsoft says that there will be AV/Security apps in S mode. Does this mean that traditional AV software from third-party companies will run in S mode? If so, doesn’t this break the entire premise of what S mode is supposed to be and undercuts the performance aspect of the mode? I suspect that Microsoft will clarify these changes to us in the near future but for now, Windows 10 S Mode appears to break the original announcement.
This type of an S-mode only Windows world has been speculated since last fall at Ignite when Microsoft announced an S-mode for frontline workers. Now, after viewing the internal roadmap for Redstone 4 and beyond, it’s official that S-Mode for all SKUs of Windows 10 is the path forward.