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Switching from Windows 10 S to regular Windows will be free for everyone

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Last month, leaked documents revealed that Microsoft would be making Windows 10 S, the restricted version of Windows 10 that can only run applications installed from the Microsoft Store, a mode of Windows rather than a separate version. That change is now official, and Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president for Windows, has provided further details on how S Mode will work in the future. It will be available to all desktop versions of Windows, and removing the 10 S restrictions will be free for all.

Currently, Windows 10 S is treated as a distinct Windows variant. Functionally, it’s a specially pre-configured version of Windows 10 Pro, using existing Windows features to restrict it to only being able to use Store apps and to block certain built-in programs such as the command-line and PowerShell. Because of this close similarity to Windows 10 Pro, Microsoft has offered an upgrade from 10 S to 10 Pro for those who want to lift the restrictions. On some systems this upgrade has been offered for free (albeit only for a promotional period); on others, it’s a $50 upgrade.

With the next major Windows Update, this is changing. Instead of a distinct Windows 10 S version, there will instead be an S Mode for Windows. This mode will apply all the same restrictions as 10 S, but it’ll now be an option for all the Windows versions: not just Pro, but now also Home and Enterprise. Moreover, as a mode, removing the S restrictions will now be free, regardless of which version of Windows it’s applied to.

Microsoft anticipates that companies will still offer systems preconfigured to use S Mode, but with this change, anyone who thinks that S makes sense for their usage will be able to use it, even if it didn’t come with their hardware.

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