Operating Systems

Upgrading Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro a 'one-way switch'

Once you go Pro, you can't go back.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you want to install your own apps from the internet on a Windows 10 S device, upgrading your license key to Windows 10 Pro is the only way you can do it. And there's no going back.

Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president of operating systems, confirmed this in an interview ahead of Microsoft's Windows 10 S launch event Tuesday in New York.

"It's a one-way switch," Belfiore said. "Once you switch to Pro, if you install applications from the internet, there's an unpredictable effect those applications will have. Plenty of applications are well behaved, but plenty others add code into the boot or login path of Windows, and it's not reversible once you've done it without affecting those applications."

Windows 10 S will only run apps from Microsoft's app store, aka the Windows Store.

Belfiore added that while it could be possible for someone to reinstall Windows 10 S, the company will likely not distribute copies for users to do so, though he can't confirm that. Generally speaking, don't expect to return to Windows 10 S once you leave its walled garden for Pro.

Windows 10 S, Microsoft's latest version of its operating system, is meant for use in schools and on devices that don't need full access to Window 10's features. Like Apple's tight-leashed iOS for its phones, Microsoft wants Windows 10 S to be a controlled environment. Microsoft said the trade-off allows machines to boot faster, ensures performance doesn't degrade over time and improves security.

Windows 10 S will be available this summer, ahead of the next school year. The software will power PCs that are as cheap as $189, according to Terry Myerson, head of the Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group.

Those looking to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro must pay $49.

The Windows 10 S operating system will also be featured in Microsoft's upcoming $999 Surface Laptop.

Virtual reality 101: CNET tells you everything you need to know about VR.

Special Reports: CNET's in-depth features in one place.