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Microsoft is about to kill off the weirdest Windows 10 experiment

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When Microsoft expelled Windows 10 S final May, we was as doubtful as anyone. In fact, we called this oddball handling complement various “the destiny (but not a present) of a desktop PC.”

I’m going to assume that a S stands for someday. Because this new Windows book is substantially not one we wish to run today, though it is clearly chronicle 1.0 of something we’ll see in dual or 3 years.

[Y]ou should cruise Windows 10 S, in a stream state, to be a not quite worldly chronicle 1.0.

As introduced on a Surface Laptop and, most later, on a call of low-cost third-party PCs directed during a credentials market, Windows 10 S was fundamentally Windows 10 Pro, with a locked-down pattern that prevents users from regulating any apps that aren’t enclosed with Windows 10 or accessible by a Windows Store.

More background: What is Windows 10 S? | A closer demeanour during what Windows 10 S can and can’t do | Windows 10 S is a destiny (but not a present) of a desktop PC | Reviewers give a hulk thumbs-down to Windows 10 S | Google Chrome won’t be authorised on Windows 10 S

That’s not a bad concept, though it was terribly executed. And so, 9 months later, it appears that Microsoft is about to kill off Windows 10 S a handling system and instead spin it into a feature: “S Mode on Windows 10.”

Good riddance.

That change competence understanding with a deadly smirch of Windows 10 S as introduced. The indicate of this handling complement variant, we celebrated final year, is to solve “the biggest problem in personal computing: a clueless PC user who can’t conflict a summons strain of neglected software.”

On a PC regulating Windows 10 S, technically unassuming users can’t download and run executable files (including third-party browsers like Google Chrome), nor can they use a authority prompt to run scripts or PowerShell commands.

Unfortunately, conjunction can technically worldly users. Which means when something goes wrong in Windows, those same confidence facilities effectively forestall an director from regulating customary correct tools.


Consider this loyal story, from my knowledge final week.

In credentials for a turn of testing, we wanted to revive a Surface Laptop to a strange configuration. That should be a elementary task, since Microsoft creates revive images accessible for purebred owners of Surface laptops.

Also: Surface Laptop: A outing on a Windows 10 S demonstrate you’ll finish quickly

Alas, a usually revive picture accessible was scarcely a year aged and formed on chronicle 1703. That meant we would need to reinstall that picture and afterwards do an online ascent to a Fall Creators Update (version 1709), effectively doubling a designation time. OK.

The picture reset was uneventful. It wasn’t formidable to foot from a USB expostulate containing a liberation image, and a routine of restoring a picture took reduction than a half-hour.

After we sealed in for a initial time, a complement downloaded a handful of accumulative updates for chronicle 1703. But one update, KB4023057, stubbornly refused to install. Ironically, that refurbish is billed as including “reliability improvements that impact a refurbish processes in Windows 10 [to] safeguard that peculiarity updates are commissioned seamlessly” and appears to be a exigency for receiving a 1709 upgrade.

Anyway, that refurbish simply wouldn’t install. (At slightest one other chairman had a same problem final week.) And troubleshooting a refurbish problem led to a comedy of errors.

  • The damaged refurbish isn’t accessible in a Microsoft Update Catalog; it’s usually accessible around Windows Update.
  • The Windows Update Troubleshooter ran though (incorrectly) reported no problems.
  • On Windows 10 S, we can’t use a authority prompt or PowerShell to run any evidence collection or scripts. So a vapid though often-effective primer choice to reset Windows Update wasn’t accessible to me.
  • Upgrading to chronicle 1709 manually wasn’t possible, either, since that would have compulsory regulating Setup.exe from a mounted ISO or from a Update Assistant, that is banned in a despotic Windows 10 S sandbox.

I called Microsoft Support and connected with an aspiring first-line tech who sympathized and suggested we should usually ascent to Windows 10 Pro: “It’s roughly accurately a same features!” After a bit some-more troubleshooting, he betrothed to expand my sheet to a second-tier support dilettante who would call behind “very shortly.” Five days later, we am still watchful for that callback.

When we finally surrendered and switched a appurtenance to Windows 10 Pro, that annoying refurbish magically commissioned and a 1709 underline refurbish seemed moments later. But that ascent is a one-way process; after we go Pro, there’s no approach to hurl behind to Windows 10 S, even if we wish to.

I was eventually means to implement Windows 10 S, chronicle 1709, though usually by downloading a general designation files, booting from USB designation media, and doing a purify implement of Windows 10, sacrificing a existent installation.

And even that routine was messy. Because we wasn’t regulating a tradition image, about a dozen inclination weren’t famous initially, including a Surface Laptop keyboard. Not being means to form done it formidable to set adult a initial user comment and cue (if this happens to you, a onscreen keyboard is your friend).

Remember, this is ostensible to be a user-friendly Windows 10 variant, a one where nontechnical people can’t get into trouble. In this case, it didn’t live adult to a billing.

Now that everything’s finally set up, don’t get me started on a deficiency of peculiarity apps. (Even some apps in a Microsoft Store won’t work scrupulously on Windows 10 S.)

The underlying judgment of Windows 10 S is still valid. An handling complement that doesn’t concede people to be duped into installing malware is a good thing. But when those same restrictions make a complement literally unmanageable, something’s wrong.

So count my opinion as an eager thumbs adult for “S Mode as a feature” in some destiny book of Windows 10. If we can pointer in as an administrator, make some required tweaks to a system, and afterwards palm a device behind to my untimely user, everybody wins.

Until then, if we find yourself in front of a PC regulating Windows 10 S, here’s some giveaway advice: Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro before we do anything else. You’ll appreciate me later.

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