Exclusive: Windows 10 S is Dead, Long Live S Mode

Posted on February 3, 2018 by Brad Sams in Windows 10 with 89 Comments

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.

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