Microsoft briefly experimented with a Windows 10 S edition of their current flagship operating system. Windows 10 S originally came out with the Microsoft Surface laptop—a device that was aimed at students. There were all sorts of reports about what journalists thought Windows 10 S might be when the news first broke, including some reviewers claiming it to be a “super” edition of Windows that was going to be every bit as impressive as the new laptop itself.
That didn’t happen. Rather, it had become apparent, fairly quickly, that the “S” instead might stand for a student version of Windows—one that didn’t come with all the same features as the normal Pro or even Home editions.
The Surface laptop was mainly aimed at students when Microsoft released it: Microsoft apparently thinks 13.5 inches is the ideal display size for people who want a portable laptop that can also double as a reliable studymate. Before long, though, many people were thinking that the Surface laptop looked pretty cool and Microsoft was more than happy to expand the idea of the Surface laptop being a great device for everyone. The only problem being that that Windows 10 S wasn’t a suitable operating system on the laptop that everyone wanted.
The solution to the kerfuffle that Microsoft had accidentally created once again was to offer people who had bought the Surface laptop a chance to update to Windows 10 Pro for free by simply visiting the Microsoft Store after they had made the purchase. (That is a pretty foolproof contingency plan that worked out quite well for them this time—one of the perks to having your own App Store associated with your operating system.)
Still, Microsoft wasn’t ready to leave the idea of Windows 10 S behind just yet. There were some good upsides to it running on people’s machines for Microsoft: it would’ve meant people were only able to install applications from the Microsoft Store, similar to what the Redmond company did when they released the first edition of Windows for the original Surface that came with Windows RT.
Windows RT was an OS that few people cared for, so it’s left many befuddled as to why they would warm to Windows 10 S. Microsoft, still wanting to push the agenda of not allowing people to install apps outside of the Microsoft Store, decided to give up on Windows 10 S but instead offer a less invasive Windows 10 S Mode—it meant that users would still have an edition of either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro underneath if they ever wanted to turn the currently enabled Windows 10 S Mode off. This should be quite a concern for a lot of you—no access to apps that aren’t on Microsoft’s own app Store isn’t just a concern for people who like to play games; there are also very few decent web browsers available from it as well: no Google Chrome, no Firefox, and you’ll be left to use Microsoft Edge. While we don’t personally have a grudge against Edge, fact remains that it isn’t as good as Google Chrome. There isn’t a lot to argue with that either. Browsing our own site using Edge often results in pages just not rendering (at all), and if we use Chrome it never fails to display any element. These types of problems aren’t always going to be obvious to the reader. They might instead think that it’s something to do with the website, and so forth. But trust us when we say that Microsoft still has some work to do before its current browser is anything close to competing with Chrome.
And frankly, that is what many people want to do. But before you go that far, you should know that there is no option to turn the Windows 10 S Mode back on again once you’ve elected to turn it off. There was talk of Microsoft adding a feature to the large Windows 10 update for 2018, codenamed “Redstone 5” and due out this fall, but that talk has since died down and there’s been no sign of it from development builds that we’ve tested, yet to be released to the public.
How to Leave S Mode and Start Using Windows 10 Home or Pro
Leaving Windows 10’s S Mode is a relatively straightforward task, but you won’t find your way out from the Settings this time. Instead, you need to do it from the Store.
To get started, open up the Microsoft Store any one of the three ways presented to you in the screenshot below: either from the Store button in the taskbar, the Store tile or the Microsoft Store app link after scrolling down the list of all apps.
With the Store open, look for the Search box in the top right corner and search for Switch out of S Mode.
When you do, there will be an application listed for you that you can’t miss, appropriately named Switch out of S Mode. Click on the blue Learn more button available within it and then follow the prompts for getting out of the mode.
While you should take a few minutes to ponder your choice given that once you turn off S Mode, there is no going back, there aren’t too many valid reasons for pausing on the decision—it is free to do, after all. There’s nothing you can’t do with the S mode off that you could do with it on, and the additional upsides of having the mode off are plentiful. Consider it more an “if you’re unhappy with your current setup then here is a way out of it” from Microsoft.
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December 14, 2019 @ 13:33
I just bought a Lenovo IdeaPad L340 with Windows S Mode. It won’t allow Malwarebytes, SonyPlayMemories for moving pictures from camera, it won’t allow Chromecast for casting YouTube videos to TV set, it won’t allow Google Earth, Ccleaner, etc. By downloading Windows Chromium Edge–it will access Google products like Chromecast & Google Earth. I rely on Sony Play Memories for the way it downloads and labels photo files by date, as opposed to just downloading photos from the camera. With 500 photos on any given day–Sony PlayMemories is just more efficient and better organized. I might add, I thought that I would go into Safe Mode with the computer and all it did was to freeze the computer completely in Safe Mode with no way to get out. From YouTube Videos, I learned about the push button on the side which allows access to Factory Reset, BOOT, etc. Factory reset corrected the problem.
I’ll hold in abeyance final judgement, but I gotta say, the limitation is more than I anticipated.
August 1, 2019 @ 20:23
I have tried to turn off my S mode following the prompts above but once I press Learn More, it goes to a blank page of the Store and won’t refresh. What am I doing incorrectly?
August 1, 2019 @ 21:16
I’m not sure as I don’t have a computer with S mode available at the moment.
Try these different first steps given by Microsoft. Perhaps it might make a difference.
1. On your PC running Windows 10 in S mode, open Settings
Gear-shaped Settings icon
> Update & Security
Circular arrows Sync icon
2. In the Switch to Windows 10 Home or Switch to Windows 10 Pro section, select Go to the Store. (If you also see an “Upgrade your edition of Windows” section, be careful not to click the “Go to the Store” link that appears there.)
3. On the Switch out of S mode (or similar) page that appears in the Microsoft Store, select the Get button. After you see a confirmation message on the page, you’ll be able to install apps from outside of the Microsoft Store.
August 2, 2019 @ 04:22
I am having the same issue when trying to switch out of S mode. The store is just blank after clicking “switch out of S mode” and will not load. Very frustrating!
January 13, 2019 @ 19:31
I see this opinion a lot of places. The one where no one apparently understands Windows 10 S. I believe that it was released to compete with Google’s Chrome OS. It doesn’t have anything to do with Microsoft wanting to offer some laptops a cheaper version of Windows to cut costs.
Chrome OS is used across most schools in the United States and Microsoft is worried that if kids continue to use Chromebooks that they’ll continue to use Chromebooks when they leave school. The Surface laptop, while an expensive laptop, is in large part meant for students and came out of the box with Windows 10 S.
A lot of people also bought the 4 GB of RAM version of the Surface laptop and a lot of the Chromebooks don’t have much RAM under the hood either. Thus it makes a lighter operating system much more appealing for those computers.
January 13, 2019 @ 19:35
Windows 10 S being a lighter operating system and freeing up more RAM was definitely an underappreciated feature. It seemed like all the writers online only mentioned how Microsoft was offering an operating system with fewer features and how that was obviously a bad thing.
But trapping people into only installing applications from the Microsoft Store is I think what scared most people away. ChromeOS has an advantage over Windows in that regard. People are far more inclined to be trapped into a Google environment than a Microsoft one.
January 16, 2019 @ 21:32
Windows 10 S is good for a lot of things, including making your battery go a longer way. It’s also much better for security. There’s very little chance of getting a virus when you’re running the streamlines S mode. It’s similar to ChromeOS is that regard.