New laptops are starting to ship with Windows 11. But if you’ve bought a new laptop recently, you may have noticed that you’re limited to only using apps on the Microsoft Store. If so, then your Windows 11 computer is running in S mode.
What Is S Mode?
Starting in Windows 10, Microsoft created an “S mode” version of its operating system. In both the Windows 10 and 11 versions, S mode is a simpler version of Windows, made for security and performance on lower-end hardware.
In essence, this means that S mode only allows you to use apps from the Microsoft Store and the security software that’s built into Windows. It also means that your default web browser is Edge and your default search engine is Bing, and there’s no way to change those.
The Pros and Cons of S Mode
For power users, Windows S mode seems a bit restrictive, but it does have its place. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of S mode.
Windows S mode is much more secure than regular versions of Windows. This is because Microsoft is the gatekeeper for which apps appear in their store, meaning you only have one source to download programs from. This means you won’t be able to accidentally download and install malicious software, eliminating the possibility of unwittingly unleashing malware on your system.
For the tech-savvy user, this is almost certainly a non-issue. But for less tech-savvy users, such as grandparents and young children, it’s clear how this could be beneficial. After all, S mode still allows for basic computing tasks like web browsing, watching videos, and email. So for casual, technically challenged users, S mode can be a blessing.
Another benefit of S mode is that it’s designed to run on lower powered machines. This makes it great for education and enterprise environments, where volume deployment is necessary and bulk administration can be a hassle. Microsoft created the S mode version of its operating system to compete with the likes of Chrome OS, which is a light operating system that can run on low-powered and cheap Chromebooks.
Of course, those security and performance benefits come at a cost. Fortunately, Microsoft at least allows you to switch out of S mode.
As mentioned earlier, S mode restricts you to only using programs from the Microsoft Store. This might seem trivial at first, but once you realize you can’t use non-Microsoft software, such as Google Chrome and Firefox, or Apple and Adobe products, you’ll understand why these restrictions make S mode less than ideal.
How to Switch Out of S Mode in Windows 11
If you find your computer stuck in S mode, and you’d rather not continue using it in a restricted environment, you can switch out of S mode fairly easily.
However, it’s important to note that switching out of S mode is a one-way street. This means that once you deactivate it, there’s no going back. This is to retain the integrity and security of S mode, so you need to be absolutely certain you’re ready for that commitment.
Start by opening Settings from the Start menu. On the System tab, scroll down to the Activation tab.
Now you’ll need to look for Switch to Windows 11 Home or Switch to Windows 11 Pro, depending on which version you have.
From here, you’ll click on Go to the Store (note: this is not the same as Go to the Store found under the Upgrade Your Edition Of Windows).
Find the Switch out of S mode page in the Microsoft Store. Click on Get, and then Install, and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.
If you get an error that says “Try again later something went wrong on our end”, then you’ll need to reset the Microsoft Store, and then repeat this process.
How to Reset the Microsoft Store
Resetting the Microsoft Store is simple enough. Open up the Settings app, go to Apps, then select Apps & Features.
Under Apps & Features, find the Microsoft Store app.
Click on the three dots and choose Advanced options.
On the Advanced options page, click on the Reset button.
Once complete, restart your computer and then follow the above steps to take your device out of S mode.