Windows 10 S Mode was originally intended for education customers and to allow Microsoft to compete against Google’s Chrome OS.
It is also meant to improve battery life, reduce boot times and keep consistent performance over time etc.
It is really limiting however if you want to do anything else except use the tablet enabled apps available from the Microsoft Store. If what you need is not on there they you are stuck!
You can easily switch out from Windows S mode to full Windows Home edition. This option is free but you can also opt to buy a Pro license direct from the Microsoft Store (full price) or just switch to Home and purchase your own cheap Pro key from various 3rd party online sellers.
Windows Home is perfectly usable however and I didn’t find the need to upgrade to the Pro version. If you don’t need Domain Join, Group Policy Management, Bitlocker, Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE), Assigned Access 8.1, Remote Desktop, Client Hyper-V, and Direct Access then the Home version is the one for you too! 🙂
I did this on my Microsoft Surface Go but it should work the same for all other Window 10 S Mode defaulted machines.
- Press the Start button located at the bottom left of your screen.
- Select the Settings icon, located just above the power icon on the Start menu.
- Select Update & Security in the Settings app.
- Select Activation, and then select ‘Go to Store to switch to Windows 10 Home’.
- When you see ‘Switch out of S mode’ appear – click on the blue Get button.
- Then hit Install when ready to proceed.
The process to switch out of S mode only takes a few short seconds to complete. You don’t need a restart for it to take effect. You can now install normal Windows 32 and 64-bit programs to your heart’s content and not just the ones from the Microsoft Store! 🙂
Switching back to S Mode is a bit trickier… it involves downloading the full recovery image for your device… on the Surface Go it was over 8GB! The only reason for my wanting to go back was to sell the device and have it factory reset like when new. (with the Cortana Welcome wizard… country selection etc.)