It had been rumored that Microsoft was planning to stop selling Windows 10 S as a standalone SKU in favor of baking an "S Mode" into other versions of Windows 10, and Microsoft confirmed the rumor yesterday on Twitter. The company's plans were not made entirely clear, however, so Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows, wrote a new blog post attempting to clarify things.
"Our partners have brought to market more than 20 devices with Windows 10 S enabled. We have also heard feedback that the naming was a bit confusing for both customers and partners.," Belfiore said "Based on that feedback, we are simplifying the experience for our customers."
That is the intent of having an S Mode in Windows 10, rather than a standalone SKU, or at least that is the official stance Microsoft is taking. Beginning with the next update to Windows 10, which Microsoft says is coming soon, customers will have the option of buying a new Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro PC with S Mode enabled. In addition, commercial customers will be able to deploy Windows 10 Enterprise with S Mode enabled.
S Mode (formerly Windows 10 S) is primarily designed for teachers and students. It's "streamlined for simplicity, security, and superior performance" and "best reflects the soul of Windows," Microsoft described last year. More plainly, S Mode limits users to curated Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps from the Windows Store, where Microsoft verifies them for security and then runs them locally in a safe container.
As some educators and students might find that too restrictive, Microsoft will give the option to switch out of S Mode into the full version of Windows, and there will no cost for doing so regardless of the edition. Previously it was rumored that there would be a $50 fee to switch out of S Mode on Windows 10 Pro, but that will not be the case. It remains to be seen if systems with S Mode enabled can still hit the low price points of Windows 10 S systems, some of which sold for less than $200.
"We hope this new approach will simplify and make it possible for more customers to start using Windows in S mode," Belfiore added.