Windows S mode is a setting in Windows 10 that allows you to only run apps available through the Microsoft Store. It will certainly boost your computer’s security and performance, but it comes at a significant cost. Below we’ll explore the pros and cons of the setting, help you decide which is right for you, and tell you how to get out of Windows S mode if you choose.
Pros of Windows S Mode
S mode is a stripped-down, highly secure way to run Windows 10 that works well for low-end PCs such as netbooks. It increases security by only allowing apps to be installed from the Windows store. It also streamlines performance by eliminating CPU and RAM use, and automatically saves everything to OneDrive, which reduces your local storage. These functions are similar to how ChromeOS operates on Chromebooks.
Microsoft also restricts your antivirus software. It indicates the only antivirus software that’s compatible in Windows 10 S mode is its own built-in software. This interoperability increases its strength to prevent viruses, and takes the security protection burden off you.
S Mode is a great option for many schools and corporations because they can lock down security to avoid malware, and use cheaper machines without overloading their hardware.
Cons of Windows S Mode
Some new PCs are shipping in Windows S mode, such as the Surface devices, so you’ll also want to be aware of the associated cons.
While the S Mode is more secure, it does come at a cost. Because you can only use apps from the Microsoft Store, you may find there are apps you need but can’t get, especially for professional users. You won’t be able to use Adobe tools, Apple apps, or any non-Microsoft video conference tools. It also includes web browsers, which means you’re limited to Edge for your browser and Bing for your search engine.
Switching out of S Mode
If you decide that S mode isn’t right for you, don’t worry. It’s a very easy, quick fix.
Note: this is a one-way switch. If you switch out of S mode, there is no way to switch back. This may be a drawback if you’re running a more basic PC that can’t handle running the full version of Windows 10, so make certain of your choice before you make the move.
To exit S mode in favor of the full Windows 10 version, go the Settings, Update and Security, Activation. In your Action menu, select either “Switch To Windows 10 Home” or “Switch to Windows 10 Pro” (this depends on which Windows 10 version your computer has installed.
When you click the Switch option, this opens Microsoft Store and lets you “Get” the full Windows 10 version, similar to an app installation. Now your PC will switch to the full Windows 10 version, and you can now install any apps you choose.
Be aware that you’ve now removed the security protocols, so you’ll need to take steps to avoid malware. Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus software, and only download apps from reputable sources.