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Microsoft VP confirms move to replace short-lived Windows 10 S with 'S Mode' in 2019

Microsoft will be moving away from offering Windows 10 S as a separate operating system release in favor of a built-in 'S Mode,' an executive has advised, confirming an earlier rumor it was looking to replace the stripped-down Windows version in favor of an option in full Windows 10 installations.

Writing in response to a Twitter query spotted by The Verge, Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore confirmed the shift in strategy, advising "Next year [Windows 10 S] will be a 'mode' of existing versions, not a distinct version." Belfiore also states the S mode is being provided as "an option for schools or businesses that want the 'low-hassle,' guaranteed performance version."

Reports of the plan to eliminate the Windows variant in favor of the mode surfaced in February, with rumors stating it would be included in versions of Windows 10 at some point in the future. The Belfiore post doesn't say when Windows 10 S will stop being offered, but does at least advise of when to expect S mode's formal arrival.

Windows 10 S is a stripped-down version of Windows that will only run Windows Store apps, a version of Windows initially introduced alongside the Surface Laptop in 2017. The restrictions of this Windows edition aims to reduce security risks by keeping installed apps to a pre-screened selection from the store, which also helps simplify device management for educational and enterprise customers.

Users are still able to upgrade from the S release to full versions, removing the restrictions and giving users the ability to install and run software from alternative sources. According to Microsoft, 60 percent of its users on third-party tablets stick with it instead of switching to the full version, with 60 percent of switchers doing so within 24 hours of owning the device.

It is rumored that the S Mode will be available for almost all versions of Windows 10, excluding releases like Core+, but the cost of switching from the S Mode to unrestricted Windows 10 will vary depending on the Windows version used. Windows 10 Home S users could end up being able to remove S Mode for free, while Windows 10 Pro S is touted to have an unlocking fee of $49.