Microsoft has a history of confusing Windows version branding. That started with the launch of Vista, which came in roughly 16 variants. Windows 10 has its own annoyances, including the locked down Windows 10 S. That version might not be long for this world, according to a new report. Microsoft could be looking at a revamping of its Windows versions that would eliminate 10 S as its own OS, relegating it to a feature in other versions.
Windows 10 S was announced last May with an interesting premise. Windows 10 S would only run apps that shipped with Windows and those downloaded from the Windows Store. None of those EXE files floating around on the internet will install on Windows 10 S. As such, background processes are kept under control for improved battery life. Still, if you can’t even install Chrome on a computer, a lot of users won’t be interested. Yet, Microsoft made Windows 10 S the default installation on the Surface Laptop.
According to Windows blogger Paul Thurrott, Windows 10 S is going away as a distinct version of the OS. Windows 10 Home editions will be split into Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Home in S Mode, and Windows 10 Home Advanced. The first devices running Windows 10 Home Advanced will apparently begin showing up in May, but we don’t know what “Advanced” features will set it apart from the other versions.
Windows 10 Home will get an S Mode feature, which was already included in Windows 10 Pro. When in S mode, Windows 10 Home will operate just like Windows 10 S does. The only apps allowed to run are preinstalled Windows apps and those obtained from the Windows Store.
So, what will become of Windows 10 S? Thurrott suggests that Microsoft will let users of 10 S upgrade to Home for free. In the past, Microsoft said it would charge everyone except students $49 to upgrade. Although, it’s still free for everyone right now. Presumably, future laptop shipments will stop including Windows 10 S.
Microsoft probably sees this move as a way to get away from all the bad press for 10 S, but it risks making Windows 10 versions too complicated. It’s not as befuddling as Windows Vista, but it’s not exactly straightforward, either. Another issue might be the cost. The new Windows 10 Home Advanced will most likely cost OEMs a little more, but it’s unclear how much of a price increase consumers will see. This could add to the price of already expensive high-end PCs. OEM discs purchased at retail will likely be more spendy as well.
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