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Windows 10 Gets S Modes

When Microsoft Announced Windows 10 S last year, the general response was a resounding “Huh?” Windows 10 S restricts users to apps from the Microsoft Store. In fact, that’s what the “S” in Windows 10 S stands for. The idea is  a more secure and streamlined Windows 10 experience. Thus, Windows 10 S gives companies (or service organizations) tighter limits on and controls over Windows desktops. Windows 10 S was an OEM product only, available only on computers with that OS pre-installed. Yesterday, Paul Thurrott posted a pair of articles that explained upcoming changes to Windows 10 S. Simply put, these stories reveal that Windows 10 S is going away as a standalone product, as Windows 10 gets S modes for a variety of products instead.

What Windows 10 Gets S Modes Really Means…

In one of the stories, Thurrott talks about a “New Windows 10 Consumer SKU Roadmap…” Users can upgrade for free from Windows 10 S to a full-blown version now. Not any more, moving forward. MS envisions 5 “Consumer SKUs” for Windows 10 S. (Enterprise does not appear, but may get S modes of its own anyway. The following list and pricing info comes verbatim from Thurrott’s article):

  • Entry: Intel Atom/Celeron/Pentium ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤ 32GB SSD AND ≤ 14.1” screen size (NB), ≤ 11.6” (2in1, Tablet), ≥ 17” AiO
  • Value: Intel Atom/Celeron/Pentium ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤64GB SSD & ≤ 14.1” screen size (EM ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤64GB SSD or ≤ 500GB HDD)
  • Core: Cannot be used on devices that meet the Core+ and Advanced SKU Hardware Specifications
  • Core +: High end CPU and >4 GB RAM (All Form Factors) ≥8 GB RAM & ≥1080p screen resolution (NB, 2in1, AiO) >8 GB RAM & ≥2TB HDD or SSD storage (Desktop)
  • Advanced: Intel Core i9 (any configuration) OR Core i7 ≥ 6 Cores (any RAM) OR AMD Threadripper(any configuration) OR Intel Core i7 >16GB (any Cores) or AMD FX/ Ryzen7 >16GB (any Cores) OR ≥ 4K screen resolution (any processor, includes 4K UHD-3840 resolution

Pricing for the SKUs is as follows: Advanced ($101), Core + ($86.66), Core ($65.45), Value ($45), and Entry ($25). Also, Windows 10 S is dead, it’s now Windows 10 S mode and the baseline SKU will be going away but each version will have an S mode.

Furthermore, Thurrott reports this new regime will kick in on April 2nd. New pricing for Home advanced takes effect on May 1st. Finally, he indicates that MS will charge users $49 to upgrade from Pro S to the corresponding full version of Windows 10. (This ends the free upgrade for Windows 10 S so far.)

How Has Windows 10 S Fared So Far?

In his other story, “Windows 10 S is Dead, Long Live S Mode” Thurrot provides info about 10 S upgrades. He shares MS’s stats on how many users stick with this OS version, how many upgrade, and how quickly. Apparently, 60% of buyers stick with 10 S. Of the 40% who upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, 60% make the switch within 24 hours of purchase. Of those who don’t switch in the first week, 83% stick with the stripped-down OS.

As a product, Windows 10 S is ‘here today, gone tomorrow.” As a mode, it’s almost everywhere in Win10 soon.
[Source: Microsoft; here’s a link to the FAQ for the incurably curious.]

Education and Home users will be able to upgrade to Home for free. Pro users must pay the aforementioned $49 to switch. Surprisingly MS indicates that AV/Security apps will be present in S mode. It’s still not clear if this means Defender only, or if third-parties will be allowed to ply their wares in UWP form. Lots of hoopla has already emerged about this possibility because of Microsoft’s prior position that such software isn’t needed on the carefully crafted, tightly controlled S version for Windows 10. We’ll see: this could get interesting!

I’m still of the opinion that Windows 10 S mode is Microsoft’s strategy for fully commoditizing Windows. The stripped down version seriously supports automated image construction, deployment, maintenance, and management. Look for it to descend from the cloud onto (many, but not all) desktops everywhere. Or maybe not. We’ll have to see about that, too.

[Shout-out to fellow Windows Insider MVP and Administrator Shawn Brink, whose news post ‘Windows 10 S’ is now ‘Windows 10 Now with S Mode’ brought this story to my attention. Thanks!]

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