Microsoft’s Windows 10 S operating system has many of the features available in Windows 10 Pro. But Microsoft says Windows 10 S offers tighter security, better battery life, and simpler management tools for educators or businesses working with a large group of computers.

On the other hand, Windows 10 S can only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. If that’s a deal-breaker, Microsoft lets you switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro.

Technically the company says this is a one-way switch: you can’t simply roll back the update and return to Windows 10 S. But it turns out thereĀ isĀ a way to switch back. It just involves wiping your data.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop is the first computer to ship with Windows 10 S. The notebook went on sale recently for $999 and up, and now that it’s shipping to customers Microsoft is offering a downloadable recovery image for folks that want to restore the laptop to its factory default condition.

And that factory default condition includes Windows 10 S software… even if you’ve already switched to Windows 10 Pro.

So the switch isn’t really one-way after all… which makes sense since the Surface Laptop (and other upcoming Windows 10 S devices) are basically full-fledged computers. You can also probably perform a clean install of Windows 10 Home on them if you really want, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone get a GNU/Linux-based operating system running on the Surface Laptop soon.

But switching back and forth between Windows 10 S and Pro still isn’t exactly simple. When you move from S to Pro the first time, Microsoft will keep your files and settings intact. There’s currently no way to switch from Pro to S while doing the same thing. So you’ll want to backup any important files before restoring from a recovery image.

It’s also noteworthy that Microsoft refers to the transition from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro as a “switch” rather than an upgrade, because the company is making a case that the ability to run fewer apps is a feature rather than a bug. It leads to improved security and battery life, after all. And Windows 10 S supports some enterprise features that you don’t get from Windows 10 Home.

But the company is only promising to let you switch for free through the end of the year. Starting in 2018 anyone with a Surface Laptop that wants to switch to Windows 10 Pro will have to pay $49. There’s no word on whether restoring from the recovery image after doing that will result in a $49 refund… but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

via MSPowerUser

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8 replies on “Switching from Windows 10 S to Pro isn’t totally one-way after all”

  1. So how much available storage will be left on a budget 32gb Windows 10 S laptop, like an HP Stream? Most reviews say budget laptops like this have less than 10gb free space. And that’s before Windows Update runs on Patch Tuesday! It reminds me of Microsoft saying Windows 8 could run on a 16gb tablet, like the discontinued HP Stream 7 or Toshiba Encore. Yet, Chromebook laptops run just fine with only 16gb of storage and Android tablets run just fine with 8gb of storage.

    1. Good question. I would like to know this as well. I remember a client having some Lenovo 11e laptops that had very small storage. The Windows 10 feature updates require 10 GB of free space, which was impossible. At least you could use a temporary USB drive for the upgrade, but it made it a very labor intensive process.

      1. 32GB’s can barely fit Windows 10 on it.
        64GB’s will fit the full-featured version, and leave you with maybe ~10GB’s free.
        128GB’s is actually the lowest I would consider, and will leave you a decent ~60GB’s free.
        Mainstream is 256GB.
        Mainstream-High is 512GB.
        And the luxury segment has 1TB SSDs.

        I guess flash prices will become very cheap in 2018 after the shortages are sorted out, and the major HDD companies begin their high-volume SSD sales.

        1. Interesting, but sorta beside the point, unless you know that 10 S is the same size as 10. It may be close, but I’d guess that without all the support for Win32, it’d be smaller, though I can’t say if it’d be significant. I guess we have to wait for MS to release specs/minimum requirements, or we get hands on…

  2. Brad…
    For the life of me, I can’t understand why someone would pay a 1000 bucks to buy this thing. I must be missing the point. These are essentially MIcrosoft Chromebook type devices aren’t they…shouldn’t they be sold at a discount? “Who” are these things manufactured for? It’s not something I can see anyone being interested in…that is unless they like throwing money down the toilet. With all of the people who have purchased Apple items in the past, I’m sure there are some who would be willing to toss away more capital to have this thing, but I just don’t see it.

    1. Truth is, it’s not a low-end device by any stretch once you factor out that Windows 10 S oddity – that’s the real head-scratcher to me.

    2. It’s the difference between a Kia and a Mercedes. Both will get you where you’re going, and to some degree you’re paying more for the name. But the quality of the components is also a heck of a lot better.

      Like the Chromebook Pixel, this is a premium laptop that just happens to ship with an operating system that some people have no use for. Both also come with escape hatches: developer mode makes it easy to install GNU/Linux on a Chromebook (even if it’s not an officially supported feature), while “switching” to Windows 10 Pro is fully supported on the Surface Laptop.

      But expect to see other Windows 10 S laptops in the $150 – $300 range. They’ll just come from companies like HP and Acer rather than from MS.

      1. Thanks for the reply Brad…

        Still don’t see it at the price(ie: IGP) they’re asking for this unit. Although, you make a point about the Pixel…I guess some people will splurge on something like this despite the limitations. I personally rather have an ASUS, HP, Dell or Acer core i5 for half the price and no limitations on the operating system, but that just makes common sense. This unit appears to be for sale to those who don’t have to worry about common sense. Although…I suppose it’s the same with those who have purchased Apple products.

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