Microsoft to drop Windows 10 S as a stand-alone product

Say hello to Windows 10 in S Mode.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Windows 10 S was supposed to be Microsoft's firm answer to Chrome OS, offering comparable security (by limiting you to Microsoft Store apps) while running more powerful software. However, its implementation for home users has been ham-fisted: you have to unlock Windows 10 Pro if you want more freedom, which should (eventually) cost money and is clearly overkill for many people. That's about to change. Both Thurrott and Neowin have discovered that Microsoft is dropping Windows 10 S as a stand-alone product for everyday users in favor of an S Mode, which is already available for the enterprise crowd.

The plan is reportedly to make S Mode available for most versions of Windows 10 (with new Core+ and Workstation variants being the exceptions). The cost of unlocking full access would depend on what you're running: Windows 10 Home S users could unlock to the regular Home release for free, while those using Windows 10 Pro S would have to pay the previously mentioned $49. You wouldn't be forced to cough up cash just because that 10 S PC you bought feels too restrictive.

There's no firm timetable for when the switch would happen, but Thurrott understands that a shakeup of Windows 10 prices for partners, which includes S Mode, will take effect between April 2nd and May 1st. We've asked Microsoft for comment and will let you know if it can confirm any details.

This isn't necessarily a rejection of Windows 10 S as a concept, although data in the documents suggests it has had a mixed reception. About 60 percent of users with third-party 10 S PCs stick to the software, but 60 percent of those who switch do so immediately. In other words, people who buy Windows 10 S machines usually know what they want. The problem, as you may have noticed, is that these are third-party computers -- it's likely that Microsoft's own Surface Laptop would skew the numbers. A shift away from a release could be an acknowledgment that 10 S works better as a settings toggle than a separate product.