Do you remember Windows 10 S? Yes, that's Windows 10 with an S. It is supposed to be Microsoft's answer to Chrome OS, an optimized and lightweight system that can run efficiently even on low-powered machines.
You can say that it is a stripped down version of Windows 10 with a focus on user-friendliness, performance, reliability, and security. Aimed specifically at students and the education sector, Windows 10 S has key differences from the regular Windows 10.
For one, non-Windows Store applications cannot be downloaded nor installed and you can't change your default browser to anything other than Microsoft Edge. On the plus side, it has instant logins and fast boot times.
It was an interesting version of Windows 10, for sure, but with its rather strict limitations, it confused many of the core Windows 10 consumers. And it didn't help that tech pundits and critics were skeptical of Windows 10 S and its uses from the start.
Now, only less than a year after it was introduced, is Microsoft giving up and finally admitting that its Windows 10 S experiment is a bust?
The end of Windows 10 S?
It looks like Microsft is planning to cancel the stand-alone Windows 10 S operating system next year and will integrate it as a special "S Mode" in Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Windows 10 Pro instead.
This change was confirmed by Microsoft VP Joe Belfiore on Twitter. According to his tweet, "next year 10S will be a 'mode' of existing versions, not a distinct version."
This will essentially turn Windows 10 S into an optional mode that is baked into regular Windows 10 machines.
With "S Mode" turned on, a Windows 10 machine can be locked down to have the same limitations of Windows 10 S machines - mainly Windows Store-only apps and a locked default Microsoft Edge browser.
Why even keep Windows 10 S?
It's interesting to note that it used to be the other way around. Each Windows 10 S machine had a hidden full Windows 10 Pro inside it. Users who find Windows 10 S app and browser restrictions a bit too much can upgrade their machines to Windows 10 Pro for $49.
Initial rumors indicated that Microsoft is planning on just scrapping the $49 fee and let anyone with Windows 10 S upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free. But with Belfiore's confirmation, it looks like Microsoft went back to the drawing board and would rather slip it in virtually every Windows 10 machine next year.
Is this a good move? Well, it's not exactly great for the future of stand-alone Windows 10 S machines but great for schools, administrators, IT departments and parents who still want a streamlined, safe and locked down version of Windows for specific users. It will hopefully kill the market confusion surrounding Windows 10 S, too.
Ultimately, this change will be a win for average consumers - it's like getting two versions of Windows 10 for the price of one.
In other news, don't buy a MacBook or iPad until next month
Are you in the market for a new laptop or tablet? Well, hold off on buying one until you read this. Click here to find out what's coming soon from Apple.