Microsoft exec confirms that Windows 10 S will become a ‘mode’ rather than a separate OS in 2019

Microsoft Surface Laptop

You may recall that last month, it was rumored that Windows 10 S will be transitioned into a ‘mode’ implemented across the other existing flavors of Windows 10, as opposed to an actual standalone version of Microsoft’s desktop OS. And now that has been confirmed by one of the company’s top executives, although the move won’t happen until next year.

This clarification came from Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, who replied to a tweet by PC World observing that Microsoft had failed to mention Windows 10 S in one of the firm’s blog posts highlighting the success of Windows devices in the education arena (which seemed a little odd seeing as the classroom is the primary target market of Windows 10 S).

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This makes it clear that Windows 10 S (which launched last May) won’t be continuing in its current form of a separate version of the OS. Rather, as of next year, it will be a mode that other existing versions of Windows 10 can operate in.

As you’re probably aware, as it stands, Windows 10 S is essentially a lightweight version of the desktop operating system that only allows for the installation of apps from the Microsoft Store.

While that’s obviously restrictive, it confers some advantages on the security front because only apps vetted by Microsoft can be used, as well as offering easy configuration of settings across, say, a bunch of students' laptops.

Primary philosophy

Clearly that ‘low hassle’ pitch is being maintained, and the basic philosophy of Windows 10 S won’t change when it makes the transition to Windows 10 S Mode. This new scheme of things could also allow Microsoft to push S Mode to more folks, given that it should be available across most versions of Windows 10.

However, there are still question marks over the cost of switching. Last month’s rumor claimed that those running Windows 10 Home in S Mode will be able to upgrade to the full-fat version of the OS for nothing, but those who have Windows 10 Pro in S Mode will have to pay $49 (around £35, AU$65) to unlock the full version. Note that this isn’t confirmed though, and it’s just speculation at this point.

Currently, schools can upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro at no cost.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).