Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s streamlined version of the operating system (OS) that only allows apps to be installed from its Microsoft Store, whereas Windows 10 (Pro) regularly allows you to install programs you want from any source.
The commercial version of the Surface Laptop also starts with a $200 price hike on account of the laptop starting with 8GB of memory versus the consumer-grade model’s 4GB to start. Then there's the embedded cost of the Windows 10 Pro OS, which is normally $200 on its own.
(If you want 8GB of memory on a normal Surface Laptop with Windows 10 S, you are forced to cough up $1,299 for that and 256GB of storage as well.)
With that, you’re saving 100 bucks on the pre-installation of Windows 10 Pro if you were to install the OS on a Surface Laptop after, say, Microsoft’s newly-extended March 31, 2018 deadline for free upgrades from Windows 10 S to Pro.
Of course, this move seems to be Microsoft getting ahead of that deadline for Windows 10 S users to make the switch – or, rather, upgrade.
What does this mean for Windows 10 S?
Microsoft hasn’t added any new SKUs or plans to offer Windows 10 Pro on the original Surface Laptop, but users can still get free upgrades to Windows 10 Pro until March 31. Whether Microsoft will offer a similar option to general consumers after the fact, or just point them to this new model, is unclear.
Beyond this option in pre-installed OS, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between the two versions of the Surface Laptop. So, it appears that Microsoft is appealing to business customers that need the freedom and versatility of full-fat Windows 10.
What does that say for Windows 10 S? Not much more than reiterating the fact that the OS is ideal for users in education and those that don’t want to worry about all the security of their device – and that’s about it.
This move doesn’t imply anything about the fate of Windows 10 S, but rather refines the definition of its purpose in the scheme of Windows 10 offerings.
But, if you want the incredible look and feel of the Surface Laptop with the full Windows 10 experience, you better grab one before March 31 and upgrade for free. Otherwise, such a setup is going to cost you another 200 bucks at minimum.
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Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.