Updated with additional information from Microsoft.
Microsoft will make Windows 10 S a “mode” inside other Windows versions, no longer offering the streamlined operating system as a standalone product, a top Windows executive has confirmed.
The move is a new twist in Microsoft’s effort to compete against Google’s Chrome OS in schools and other key growth areas. New market research shows Microsoft making headway in U.S. K-12 education, but Google and its Chromebooks still dominate that segment of the computing market.
Windows 10 S, launched last year, limits users to apps downloaded from the Windows Store, one of the precautions designed to maintain device security and performance over time. It’s part of a longstanding effort by Microsoft to adapt its operating system to the realities of mobile devices and cloud computing.
Hints of the new Windows 10 “S” mode were first spotted by Neowin last month, but the news hadn’t previously been publicly acknowledged by the Redmond company. The acknowledgement by Joe Belfiore, the Microsoft operating systems vice president, comes in advance of Windows Developer Day, which kicks off at 9 a.m. Pacific.
We use Win10S as an option for schools or businesses that want the 'low-hassle'/ guaranteed performance version. Next year 10S will be a "mode" of existing versions, not a distinct version. SO … I think it's totally fine/good that it's not mentioned.
— Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) March 7, 2018
The change additional confusion over which versions of Windows can run specific types of apps — something that helped to torpedo Microsoft’s earlier Windows RT operating system, which also limited users to Windows Store apps.
Update, 6 p.m.: Belfiore provided more information in a blog post this evening, saying the company heard feedback that the naming of Windows 10 S “was a bit confusing for both customers and partners.”
Based on that feedback, we are simplifying the experience for our customers. Starting with the next update to Windows 10, coming soon, customers can choose to buy a new Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro PC with S mode enabled, and commercial customers will be able to deploy Windows 10 Enterprise with S mode enabled.
We expect the majority of customers to enjoy the benefits of Windows 10 in S mode. If a customer does want to switch out of S mode, they will be able to do so at no charge, regardless of edition.