Windows 10 in S mode FAQ

About Windows 10 in S mode

Windows 10 in S mode is a version of Windows 10 that's streamlined for security and performance, while providing a familiar Windows experience. To increase security, it allows only apps from the Microsoft Store, and requires Microsoft Edge for safe browsing.

For more info, see the Windows 10 in S mode page.

To get Windows 10 in S mode, you need the right volume license agreement and qualifying devices that are already enabled in S mode. Or you can work with the manufacturer or partner to get it installed when you buy a new device.

To increase security and performance, Windows 10 in S mode runs only apps from the Microsoft Store. If you want to install an app that isn't available in the Microsoft Store, you'll need to permanently switch out of S mode. There's no charge to switch out of S mode, but you won't be able to turn it back on. If you're blocked from switching and your device belongs to an organization, check with your administrator. Your organization can choose to keep all devices in S mode.

  1. On your PC running Windows 10 in S mode, open Settings  > Update & Security  > Activation.

  2. Find the Switch to Windows 10 Home or Switch to Windows 10 Pro section, then select the Go to the Store link.

    Note: Don't select the link under Upgrade your edition of Windows. That's a different process that will keep you in S mode.

  3. On the page that appears in the Microsoft Store (Switch out of S mode or a similar page), select the Get button. After you confirm this action, you'll be able to install apps from outside the Microsoft Store.

Open Microsoft Store

Learn more:

Switching out of S mode is one-way. If you switch out of S mode, you'll need to keep using the standard version of Windows 10.

With the April 2018 Update, Windows 10 S became a mode of Windows 10 (called “S mode”). It's now available in Windows 10 Home edition, Windows 10 Pro, and Windows 10 Pro Education—and you can buy new PCs with an edition of the S mode preinstalled.

If you have an existing Windows 10 S device and you install the April 2018 Update or later, you'll have a Windows 10 Pro device in S mode.

Windows 10 in S mode can come installed on a PC that has an Intel, AMD, or Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Here’s how to find out what kind of processor your Windows 10 PC is running:

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System  > About .

  2. On the About screen, next to Processor, identify whether it says Snapdragon, Intel, or AMD.

For details about processors, see the sections for: 

You can download and install apps from the Microsoft Store in Windows. To find Microsoft Store apps, you must be in Windows 10. To discover which apps are available for your device, select Microsoft Store  on the taskbar. If you don't see the Microsoft Store  icon on the taskbar, select the Start  button, type Microsoft Store, then select it in the list of results to open the Store.

Note: If you switch out of S mode, you can install 32-bit (x86) Windows apps that aren’t available in the Microsoft Store in Windows. If you make this switch, it's permanent, and 64-bit (x64) apps still won't run.

Apps you bought from the Microsoft Store are linked to your Microsoft account. In most cases, if you install an app from the Microsoft Store on another Windows 10 PC, you should be able to install it on your PC with Windows 10 in S mode if you sign in with the same Microsoft account.

Unless you switch out of S mode, you'll only be able to use apps from the Microsoft Store on your device. There are important limitations regarding apps and switching out of S mode on Windows 10 Snapdragon devices.

It depends on the type of Domain join you use and which edition of Windows 10 your device is running.

  • Azure AD Domain join is available for Windows 10 Pro in S mode and Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode. It's not available in Windows 10 Home in S mode.

  • On-premise Domain join is not available in S mode (for any edition of Windows). To enable On-premise Domain join, switch the device out of S mode and run a Windows edition that includes the Domain join feature (Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise). For example, if your device was running Windows 10 Home in S mode, you’d need to switch out of S mode and upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to use On-premise Domain join.

No. When you're using Windows 10 in S mode, Microsoft Edge is always the default web browser, and Bing is the default search engine. But you can access other browsers and search engines while in S mode. You can download any browser available in the Microsoft Store in Windows, and you can navigate to any other search engine website.

If you want to download a browser (or any other application) that's not in the Microsoft Store, you'll need to permanently switch out of S mode. After you switch, you can then set your default browser and search engine to the one you choose, but you won't be able to return to S mode again.

Note: If your PC is running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and you switch out of S mode, you’ll need to install the 32-bit (x86) version of the browser. 64-bit (x64) apps won't run on a Windows 10 PC with a Snapdragon processor.

Yes, we recommend all Windows devices use antivirus software. Currently, the only antivirus software known to be compatible with Windows 10 in S mode is the version that comes with it: Windows Defender Security Center. Windows Defender Security Center delivers a robust suite of security features that help keep you safe for the supported lifetime of your Windows 10 device. For more info, see Windows 10 security.

Also note that by exclusively using apps from the Microsoft Store and browsing safely with Microsoft Edge, Windows 10 in S mode keeps you running more quickly and securely day in and day out.

If you want to use another antivirus software provider, you can ask if they offer a product that runs on a Windows 10 device in S mode.

Many hardware accessories and peripherals (such as printers) that work with Windows 10 Home and Pro also work with Windows 10 in S mode, though sometimes they only offer limited functionality. For additional info, see Windows 10 in S mode accessory compatibility or contact your accessory manufacturer.

Windows 10 in S mode on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor

 

PCs with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor help you keep working wherever you go. Your PC will:

  • Always be connected to the internet. With a cellular data connection, you can be online wherever you get a cellular signal—just like with your mobile phone. When you’re at work, home, or by another Wi-Fi network you trust, you can connect to Wi-Fi to save cellular data and keep working.

  • Free you from outlets with a battery life that goes beyond all-day. You'll use less power than you would with other PCs, so you can go through a typical work or school day without running out of battery or worrying about finding an outlet to plug into. If you want to use the PC for something more fun, you can enjoy up to 20 or more hours of local video playback between battery charges.

  • Turn on instantly. When you’re not using your PC, just press the power button like you do on your mobile phone to turn off the screen. When you take out your PC and turn it back on, it turns on instantly. Whenever you have a few minutes in between classes, meetings, or other activities, you can get things done without waiting for your PC to start up.

Whether you're running Windows 10 in S mode or not, there are some limitations when you run a PC on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor:

  • Drivers for hardware, games and apps will only work if they're designed for a Windows 10 PC running on a Snapdragon processor. For more info, check with the hardware manufacturer or the organization that developed the driver. Drivers are software programs that communicate with hardware devices—they're commonly used for antivirus and antimalware software, printing or PDF software, assistive technologies, CD and DVD utilities, and virtualization software.
    If a driver doesn’t work, the app or hardware that relies on it won’t work either (at least not fully). Whether you're in S mode or not, peripherals and devices only work if the drivers they depend on are built into Windows.

  • 64-bit (x64) apps won’t work. You'll need 64-bit (ARM64) apps, 32-bit (ARM32) apps, or 32-bit (x86) apps. You can usually find 32-bit (x86) versions of apps, but some app developers only offer 64-bit (x64) apps.

    Note: 32-bit (x86) apps might run more slowly than they would on a PC device that has an Intel or AMD processor. 

  • Certain games won’t work. Games and apps won't work if they use a version of OpenGL greater than 1.1, or if they rely on "anti-cheat" drivers. You can check with your game publisher to see if a game will work.

  • Apps that customize the Windows experience might have problems. This includes some input method editors (IMEs), assistive technologies, and cloud storage apps. The organization that develops the app detemines whether their app will work on a Windows 10 PC running on a Snapdragon processor.

  • Third-party antivirus software can’t be installed. You won't be able to install third-party antivirus software on any edition of Windows 10 running on a Snapdragon processor. However, Windows Defender Security Center will help keep you safe for the supported lifetime of your Windows 10 device.

  • Client Hyper-V isn’t supported. This feature isn’t supported for any edition of Windows 10 running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

  • Windows Fax and Scan isn’t available. This feature isn’t available for any edition of Windows 10 running on a Snapdragon processor.

Windows 10 in S mode provides built-in accessibility features that help you do more on your device. You can also find assistive technology apps in the Microsoft Store in Windows, such as the KNFB Reader and the Read&Write extension for Microsoft Edge—and we're working to offer more apps soon.

You can check the Microsoft Store to see if your preferred assistive technology apps are available for a PC running in S mode.

If they aren't available, you can permanently switch out of S mode to use non-Microsoft Store apps. For more info, see Using Windows 10 in S mode with assistive technology: FAQ. You may want to check with the vendor to find out if their application is compatible with Windows 10 running on a Snapdragon processor. Not all assistive technology apps work as expected, even if you switch out of S mode.

If you use a screen reader, NVDA has updated their app to be compatible with Windows 10 on a Snapdragon processor. For more info, visit the NV Access website.

Note: Switching out of S mode is one-way. If you make the switch, you won't be able to go back to S mode. To learn more, see How do I switch out of S mode?

If you switch out of S mode, you can install 32-bit (x86) Windows apps that aren’t available in the Microsoft Store in Windows. If you make this switch, it's permanent, and 64-bit (x64) apps still won't run. Also, even if you aren't in S mode, peripherals and devices will only work if the drivers they depend on are built into Windows 10. It's a good idea to check whether the hardware developer has published a version of the driver that runs on a Windows 10 device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Note that switching out of S mode is one-way. If you make the switch, you won't be able to go back to S mode on that device.

For more info, see How do I switch out of S mode?

Every Windows 10 PC running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor can connect to a cellular data network, whether or not it's S mode enabled. This lets you get online wherever you have a cellular signal. Depending on your PC manufacturer, your PC might use a physical SIM card or an embedded SIM (eSIM).

To find out whether your PC uses a SIM card or eSIM:

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Network & Internet  > Cellular.

  2. Determine the type of SIM your PC uses. On the Cellular screen, look for a link near the bottom of the page that says Manage eSIM profiles.

To see if your device will work, check the hardware manufacturer's website or your mobile operator's website. 

You can also buy prepaid cellular data plans through the Microsoft Store. For more information about how to buy a plan, see Get online with paid cellular data.

No, you won't be able to update to Windows 10 in S mode because it’s a different type of system. Windows RT is based on the ARM32 architecture, but a Windows 10 PC running on a Snapdragon processor is based on the ARM64 architecture.

Windows 10 in S mode on an Intel or AMD processor

Windows 10 in S mode only works with compatible apps from the Microsoft Store. Most apps in the Microsoft Store work the same for devices whether they're in S mode or not. Note that some developer tools won't be supported on Windows 10 in S mode, and a small number of apps with known compatibility issues will list the issues in the app’s product detail page in the Microsoft Store.

Many hardware accessories and peripherals (such as printers) that work with Windows 10 will also work with Windows 10 in S mode, but might have limited functionality. See Windows 10 in S mode Accessory Compatibility for more info on Microsoft hardware accessories, and for links to contact third parties if you have questions about using their accessories with Windows 10 in S mode. If you don't find information on a specific model, check with your accessory manufacturer.

Yes, education customers can test Windows 10 in S mode on an existing Windows 10 device. This offer is for technical users, so please see the important pre-installation information at docs.microsoft.com/education.

If you try to use an app that's not in the Microsoft Store, you'll get a reminder that the app isn't an option when you're using Windows 10 in S mode. We'll often suggest a category of similar apps or a specific app that's already available in the Microsoft Store. Note that some developer tools won't be supported on Windows 10 in S mode, and a small number of apps with known compatibility issues will list the issues in the app’s product detail page in the Microsoft Store. If you still want to download an application that's not in the Microsoft Store or has compatibility issues, you can switch out of S mode, but you won't be able to switch back again.

The number of compatible apps and devices will continue to grow. For the most up-to-date information, you can always check back at this website, at the Microsoft Store in Windows, or with the hardware or software manufacturer. If you absolutely need to use an app or device that's not compatible, it's easy to switch out of S mode—you just won't be able to switch back. For more info, see How do I switch out of S mode?

Windows provides a number of built-in accessibility features to help you do more. There are great apps available today through the Microsoft Store in Windows, such as the KNFB Reader and the Read&Write extension for Microsoft Edge.

If you need to use assistive technology apps that aren't available through the Microsoft Store, and aren't downloadable on a Windows 10 device in S mode, you'll need to switch out of S mode and you won't be able to switch back.

If you have an Education version, see Switch to Windows 10 Pro Education from Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Pro in S mode for Education.

About Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode

Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode is a subscription that provides additional options for your compatible device. You'll get:

  • Management of Microsoft Store access

  • Management of consumer experiences

  • Management of Cortana

  • Health analytics

  • Telemetry controls

  • App Guard

  • Credential Guard

You get Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode the same way you would get Windows 10 Enterprise. To install it, you'll need the right volume license agreement and existing qualifying devices that are already enabled in S mode. Or you can work with the manufacturer or partner to get it installed when you buy a new device.

Yes. If your device is running Windows 10 Enterprise in S mode and you choose to switch out of S mode, your device will be running Windows 10 Enterprise. If you switch, you won't be able to get back into S mode again. To learn more, see How do I switch out of S mode?

About Windows 10 Education in S mode

 

Windows 10 Education in S mode is designed to give schools the familiar, robust, and productive features they expect from Windows, in an experience that’s streamlined for security and performance in the classroom. It has many of the Windows 10 Education features that you know today, but we made some changes so you could have a more secure experience, with better performance.

You get Windows 10 Education in S mode the same way you would get Windows 10 Education. To install it, you'll need the right volume license agreement and devices that are already enabled in S mode. Or you can work with the manufacturer or partner to get it installed when you buy a new device.

Yes. If your device is running Windows 10 Education in S mode and you choose to switch out of S mode, your device will then be running Windows 10 Education. If you switch, you won't be able to get back into S mode again. To learn more, see How do I switch out of S mode?

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