Reports that Windows 10 S will become a "mode" of Windows 10 were confirmed Tuesday night by Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, who stated that the transition will occur next year.
Belfiore, a corporate vice president in the Operating System Group within Windows, tweeted his statement in response to a PCWorld reporter’s own comment that Microsoft had neglected to mention Windows 10 S in a recent blog post touting the success of Windows devices in schools. Microsoft launched Windows 10 S last year as a standalone version of Windows, partly to provide a secure, manageable version of Windows to those schools.
Currently, Microsoft sells Windows 10 S and Windows 10 as separate versions. Windows 10 S works only with the UWP apps Microsoft itself provides from the app store. Windows 10 S users may also switch to Windows 10 Pro via an upgrade found within the Microsoft Store.
However, Windows 10 S hasn’t appeared in anything more than the Surface Laptop and a handful of education devices. A representative of FutureSource, the author of the report, said that the company could not provide data on the number of Windows 10 S devices, given that "few have been available until recently." Reports surfaced recently that Microsoft would combine Windows 10 S and Windows 10, making the former a “mode” of the Windows 10 OS.
Microsoft had declined to confirm the substance of those reports until now, and hadn’t said when the transition would take place, if ever. Belfiore's Tuesday Tweet has revealed that the reports are true, and when the transition will take place.
“We use Win10S as an option for schools or businesses that want the ‘low-hassle’/ guaranteed performance version,” Belfiore tweeted. “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,” he said of the report’s omission of Windows 10.
Whether Microsoft will offer Windows 10 S by default is not clear. One report by Thurrott.com has said that users will be able to upgrade from an 'S' version of Windows 10 Home S to full-fledged Windows 10 Home for free, but Pro users going from the 'S' version to the full version will be charged $49.
What this means for you: While it’s not clear why the Windows 10 S transition will take place in 2019—development time, or just a chance for the Windows 10 S to succeed on its own?—we do know now that Windows 10 S will be the “low-hassle” version of Windows. Windows 10 Home/Pro, with its legacy Win32 support, will be the more powerful version. Guess we’ll know in a year how this will change the status of Windows 10 S in the marketplace.
This story was updated on March 7 at 9:08 AM to add FutureSource commentary about Windows 10 S.