Microsoft Will Let Surface Laptop Owners Switch Back to Windows 10 S After Windows 10 Pro Upgrade

Panos Panay with Surface Laptop
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is its first full-fledged, no compromises take on the traditional notebook form-factor. The Surface Book and Surface Pro can operate as quasi-notebooks with their keyboards attached, but they are tablets first and foremost.

While the Surface Laptop is a desirable piece of hardware in its own right, it ships from the factory with Windows 10 S installed. For those unfamiliar with this Windows 10 SKU, you cannot install or run Win32 apps with Windows 10 S; instead, you’re relegated to installing Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps from the Windows Store. Given the rather limited selection of apps on the Window Store, Windows 10 S a compromised solution from the start. That might be satisfactory in a school setting where Windows 10 S is expected to go head-to-head with Chrome OS, but it seems somewhat puzzling that a “premium” notebook priced from $999 would ship with Windows 10 S.

Windows 10 S Devices

Microsoft seemingly understands that many customers, especially power users, won’t be satisfied with Windows 10 S, so it is providing Surface Laptop users the ability to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free until the end of the year. This upgrade would usually cost $50.

In addition, Microsoft announced today that users that upgrade to Windows 10 Pro and want to revert back to Windows 10 S can do so with newly-available recovery images. We can’t imagine someone actually wanting to go back to Windows 10 S after tasting Windows 10 Pro, but at least the option is there.

In order to start the process, you’ll first need to backup all of your files, as reverting to Windows 10 S requires a complete format of your SSD. The recovery image weight in at a hefty 9GB, so you’ll probably want to have a USB flash drive (formatted in FAT32) handy to reinstall Windows 10 S. You can download the recovery image here.

surface laptop 1

As for the Surface Laptop, it recently began shipping to customers and is a rather interesting device. It’s most prominent feature, other than its 13.5-inch Pixel Sense display, is the keyboard deck is covered in Alcantara. It gives the notebook a distinctive look and more premium feel, but we wonder how it will fair after months or years of abuse (and oils from your hands).

It is available in Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and Graphite Gold; offers up to 14.5 hours of runtime per charge; weighs in at a light 2.76 pounds; and it supports the Surface Pen and Surface Dial. The base $999 Surface Laptop is equipped with a Kaby Lake Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD.