September 6, 2017 // 9 a.m.
Microsoft has announced it is extending the period during which buyers of Windows 10 S, the cut-down variant of Windows 10 pre-loaded on the Surface Laptop and selected other devices, can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free: The deadline is now March 2018.
Windows 10 S was announced back in May this year alongside the Surface Laptop, Microsoft's first entry in the range to lack the ability to convert between laptop and tablet modes. Windows 10 S, the company explained at the time, has as its main selling point a heavy integration into the Windows Store ecosystem which prevents legacy Win32 applications from even executing - perfect, said Microsoft, for education, where the software competes with low-cost devices running Google's Chrome OS.
For those who need legacy applications or other features missing from Windows 10 S, Microsoft offers an upgrade path to Windows 10 Pro for a one-off £49 fee. At the time of the announcement early adopters of Windows 10 S were given the opportunity to upgrade before the end of the year and pay nothing - an offer Microsoft has now extended without explanation, though lower-than-expected sales of Windows 10 S devices and a desire to capitalise on the traditional Christmas sales period seem plausible causes.
The revised deadline was announced in a blog post by Raphael Aquino Jose last night, along with availability of Surface Laptops in additional colours. 'For those that find they need an application that isn’t yet available in the Store and must be installed from another source, we’re extending the ability to switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for free until March 31, 2018,' Jose writes at the end of the post. 'We hope this provides increased flexibility for those people searching for the perfect back-to-school or holiday gift.'
The free upgrade offer echoes that run by Microsoft at the launch of Windows 10 itself, which was free for users of selected previous generation Windows operating systems for the first year of its availability.