Today, at its education-focused event in New York City, Microsoft announced Windows 10 S, a new edition of its OS restricted to running apps from the Windows Store. This might immediately bring to mind Windows RT - but unlike that version, Windows 10 S can run Win32 apps, as long as they've been converted for distribution through the Store.
While Windows 10 S is primarily aimed at the education market, it won't be exclusive to schools and universities. Indeed, the first device to ship with Windows 10 S will be the new Surface Laptop, which Microsoft also unveiled today, and is now available for anyone to pre-order, priced from $999 to $2,199.
Windows 10 S offers some advantages over other versions of the OS, including greater security on devices; limited impact from malware and viruses; and better battery performance, thanks to restrictions on background tasks and services for apps installed from the Store. But the key disadvantage for some users - especially consumers buying these devices - is that they'll be unable to install other applications which aren't listed on the Store, such as Google's Chrome web browser or Valve's Steam gaming suite.
Microsoft is offering buyers of its Surface Laptop a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro until the end of this year. But what happens after December 31, 2017? And what about those who buy Windows 10 S devices that don't qualify for that offer?
We've known for a while that Microsoft would offer an upgrade path to more fully-featured editions of Windows 10 that allow users to install software from other sources, and today, the company further clarified to MSPoweruser:
Customers can easily switch to Windows 10 Pro at any time. For our EDU customers the switch is free of charge. For others, it will cost $49 or less to switch.
That phrasing is certainly interesting, and appears to imply that some users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for even less than $49. This may, however, simply be a reference to the free Windows 10 Pro upgrade offer on the Surface Laptop.