Microsoft's Windows 10 in S Mode: What It Is and How to Install Apps

Are Windows 10 S and Windows 10 in S mode the same as Windows 10?

Woman using Windows 10 in S mode on a Microsoft Surface Laptop
Windows 10 in S mode is mostly used by students.

 Microsoft

Microsoft Windows 10 S is a version of the Windows 10 operating system for those in education. 10 S restricts users to only download apps from the official Microsoft Store. As a result, Microsoft lauds it as more secure than the main Windows 10 OS.

In 2018, Microsoft rebranded "Windows 10 S" to "S mode" due to consumer confusion. S mode is available on devices running either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro.

Many computer store listings will still list Windows 10 S instead of the newer S mode, but they're the same thing.

Are Windows 10 S and Windows 10 the Same?

Windows 10 S, or Windows 10 in S mode, is a controlled setting on select Windows 10 devices. A laptop or computer running S mode is still running Windows 10. It just doesn't have the full functionality of the entire operating system.

What Are the Restrictions for Windows 10 in S Mode?

While most of the functionality of the full Windows 10 operating system is present, S mode places several limitations on a device's functionality:

  • You can only download apps from the Microsoft Store.
  • Microsoft Edge is the default internet browser.
  • Bing is the default system search engine.

What are the Benefits of Running Windows 10 in S Mode?

While Windows 10 S, or S mode, has some limitations, these same restrictions also improve a Windows 10 device in several ways:

  • The inability to download programs from websites while using Windows 10 in S mode reduces the chances of accidentally installing malware or a computer virus, which could infect your device.
  • Windows 10 in S mode can only run Windows apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store, which prevents numerous background programs from running and slowing down your device. You'll notice faster start-up times, smoother operation on devices with low processing power, and potentially longer battery life.

Who is Windows 10 in S Mode For?

Microsoft designed Windows 10 in S mode for high school and college or university students. This focus is mainly due to the fact that S mode limits how people can use their devices, keeping the emphasis on studying and assignments.

A PC running Windows 10 in S mode may also be of use to consumers who aren't very tech-savvy and prone to downloading malware and viruses regularly. S mode limits functionality to a curated app selection in the Microsoft Store that only offers apps Microsoft created, which means they're always safe to run.

Can I Play Video Games on a Windows 10 S Computer?

Video games are available on a computer running Microsoft's Windows 10 S or Windows 10 in S mode. However, just like any other apps, the only titles available are ones Microsoft authorized in its app store.

Computers running Windows 10 in S mode are typically designed for educational purposes and may not be able to play some of the more visually intensive PC video games, despite their listings in the Microsoft Store.

Can I Watch Movies on Windows 10 in S Mode?

You can view digital movies and TV episodes via the usual websites on the Microsoft Edge web browser and in apps such as Netflix and Amazon Video.

Do I Have Windows 10 S or S Mode on My Computer?

You can check which Windows 10 operating system you have on your computer by doing the following:

  1. Open the Start menu by clicking the icon in the lower-left corner of the screen or pressing the Windows button on your keyboard.

    A Windows 10 desktop with the Start menu highlighted
  2. Select Settings.

    Start menu in Windows 10 with the Settings button highlighted
  3. Select System.

    Windows Settings with the System item highlighted
  4. Scroll down the left menu and click About.

    Windows 10 settings with the About heading highlighted
  5. Scroll down this page until you get to Windows specifications. Under this heading, next to Edition, will be the name of the operating system you have installed.

    If it says Windows 10 Home in S mode or Windows 10 Pro in S mode, you have S mode installed on your device, and it's currently active.

    Windows 10's About screen with the Edition highlighted
  6. You can turn off S mode if you want to unlock your device. But once you deactivate it, you can't go back.

How to Install Apps on Windows 10 in S Mode

While running Windows 10 in S mode, you're limited to installing apps from the Microsoft Store. You can install these on your computer in the same way you would install them on a regular Windows 10 device:

  1. Open the Microsoft Store app.

    Alternatively, you can open it by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard, typing "Store," and selecting Microsoft Store from the search results.

    A PC desktop with the Microsoft Store icon open
  2. Search for apps via the search bar in the top-right corner or by browsing the featured apps on the main screen.

    Microsoft Store with the iCloud search result highlighted
  3. Once you find an app that interests you, select it to go to its main app page within the Microsoft Store.

  4. If the app is free, you should see a blue Get button under the app's name. Click it to download the app.

    iCloud page in the Microsoft Store with the Get button highlighted
  5. If the app costs money, you'll see its price under the title and below that a blue Buy button. Click the Buy button and select your payment method, such as a credit card or Microsoft Store credit, to begin the download.

Where to Find Recently Purchased Apps on Windows 10 in S Mode

You can also look at your purchase history in the Microsoft Store to download apps you've deleted or check for updates. Here's how to do it.

  1. Within the Microsoft Store, select the ellipsis (three dots) in the top-right corner of the screen.

    Microsoft Store in Windows 10 with the ellipses highlighted
  2. Select Downloads and Updates to view all of your recently downloaded and updated apps.

    Microsoft Store with the
  3. Select an app to view more information about it.

How to Uninstall Apps on Windows 10 in S Mode

Uninstalling apps on a Windows 10 in S mode computer is identical to how it's done on a regular Windows 10 device.

  1. Open the Start menu by clicking the icon in the lower-left corner of the screen or pressing the Windows button on your keyboard.

  2. Your apps will appear alphabetically in a column in the Start menu. Find the one you wish to uninstall and right-click it with your mouse.

    If you're using a Windows 10 device with a touchscreen, tap and hold the app icon for several seconds, then release.

    The Start menu in Windows 10
  3. Select the Uninstall option.

    Option menu for a Windows 10 app with the Uninstall option highlighted
  4. Click Uninstall again to confirm you want to delete the app.

    Confirmation box in Windows 10 with the Uninstall button highlighted
  5. Repeat these steps for all of the apps you want to remove from your computer.