Microsoft recently started shipping its Surface Laptop running Windows 10 S as the default operating system. The OS can be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for free for a limited time – until the end of the year, according to reports. Fortunately, if you now own a Surface Laptop, you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro as soon as you get the laptop, assuming you want to run more than just UWP apps from the Windows Store.
The only problem is, some of the benefits of having a Surface Laptop are going to go away when you upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, like battery life and greater device security. That’s why, after they started shipping out the devices last week, Microsoft decided to make a recovery image file available to buyers so they can easily downgrade back to Windows 10 S if they feel Windows 10 Pro is draining the battery too fast or for any other reason.
The only downside to this is that your files will all be deleted when you downgrade from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 S. The recovery image file is 9GB, so make sure you’re on a fast broadband or fiber connection before downloading it.
You’re basically doing a factory reset, so the recovery image file works for all Surface devices that have been upgraded since they were purchased. On the page linked above, you’ll need to sign into your Microsoft account, choose the product, enter the registered serial number, download the recovery image and then create the recovery drive for the clean install. You can just follow the instructions that appear throughout the process.
You have to note that Microsoft doesn’t allow a downgrade from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 S without completely resetting your Surface Laptop and erasing all your data. It’s a bit of a pain, but that’s generally accepted practice – an OS downgrade usually requires a clean install.
Make sure you back up all your data to a different, external location before downloading the recovery image and proceeding with the downgrade back to Windows 10 S. If you haven’t tried the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, you can do that now while Microsoft is offering it at no extra charge. The $50 charge will possibly be in force starting in 2018, but Microsoft could extend the deadline to encourage users to upgrade.
It’s odd that Microsoft would offer free upgrades to Windows 10 Pro. You’d think that they’d rather have more people stay on Windows 10 S on the Surface Laptop since it makes the machine more power-efficient and it’s a more secure environment. That’s why the easy downgrade option, perhaps?
But it’s also quite possible that the marketing team at Microsoft wanted to make the Surface Laptop purchase an attractive deal. That explanation makes sense when you consider the fact that they’re also throwing in a year’s worth of Office 365 Personal for free along with the device.