Microsoft To Phase Out Windows 10 S, Just Months After Launch

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The stripped-down Windows 10 S is to disappear as a stand-alone product in Microsoft’s spring revamp of the Windows product range

Microsoft is to drop the stripped-down Windows 10 S version of its flagship operating system only months after it was launched, in a shakeup of the way it competes in a market also served by offerings such as Google’s Chrome OS.

An internal roadmap and other documents indicate the company is to phase out Windows 10 S in favour of an “S mode” that will be pitched as a feature of various versions of Windows 10, according to reports from industry blogs including Thurrott.com and Neowin.net.

Windows 10 S was launched in May of last year as a cheaper version of Windows that would offer improved performance and security for users who needed it only for a limited range of uses.

Windows 10 S is aimed at schools

The firm pitched Windows 10 S for use in schools and for certain business tasks, areas in which Chrome OS has found success. The software only runs apps from the Windows Store and they operate in sandboxes for improved security.

Low-end PCs

The software was initially launched on Windows Surface Laptop, followed by a range of budget PCs from third-party manufacturers. In theory, Windows 10 S’s locked-down configuration could prevent users from encountering software problems or security issues.

But some users said Microsoft’s execution of the idea caused more problems than it solved. One reviewer, for instance, found it was impossible for administrators to fix routine problems without upgrading to Windows 10 Pro, effectively doing away with any benefits of the operating system’s initial simplicity.

Microsoft’s revamp of the way it brands its array of Windows 10 products will effectively do away with Windows 10 S as a stand-alone product, according to reports citing internal documents.

Instead, Windows 10 Home, Pro and Enterprise editions will all feature an “S Mode” with limited functions.

It isn’t clear what this revamp will actually change, however, since Windows 10 S products already allow users to upgrade to versions such as Home or Pro, currently for free.

New upgrade fee

Windows 10 S may not have proven popular as it currently stands, but the “S Mode” feature appears to be intended only as a way of repositioning essentially the same offering.

One significant difference will see users charged $49 (£35) to upgrade a product running Windows 10 Pro in S Mode to the full version of Windows 10 Pro. Unlocking the Home edition is to remain free.

The strategy allows Microsoft to push further into areas such as schools and businesses with cheaper products, while taking fees from manufacturers or users who want to activate Windows’ higher-end features.

The first PCs running Windows 10 Home in S Mode are set to appear on 1 April, with the fee to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro from its own S Mode version is to begin in March, according to Thurrott.com.

Spring update

“Windows 10 S provides a streamlined, secure and battery-efficient experience that we believe is a great choice for many customers,” Microsoft said in an official statement. “We’ll share more about what’s next for Windows 10 S when we’re ready.”

The company’s planned Windows 10 update for this spring is currently codenamed Redstone 4, with a planned autumn update called Redstone 5.

Those upgrades follow the Fall Creators Update, released in October of last year.

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