note to readers: this is a reboot/rewrite of the Windows 10 S Mode post from last year
Windows 11 comes in various editions: Home, Pro, Education, Enterprise and S mode. And that last one gives many people pause. Just what is S mode? What does the S stand for? Simple, Secure, Strict, Stunted? Microsoft is mum on that question.
S Mode Defined
S mode is a locked down version of Windows. S mode means that you may not install any software on the computer, unless it comes from the Microsoft Store. This means that you are protected from many types of malware and other nasties, but also cannot load Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, Quickbooks Desktop or any other software from a download or disc.
This may be acceptable, if you can live with only ever using Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Office. This may be an instant No for other computer users.
But Should You Avoid S Mode Computers?
In short, No! Many computers at Costco, Best Buy, Microcenter and other retailers boast Windows S mode, but don’t be deterred! S mode can be removed right after you boot the computer. Microsoft allows you to remove S mode and convert your license to Windows 11 Home, for free.
But it is a one-way trip. Once you switch from S mode to Home, there’s no going back. So be sure you want to make the change, and then:
Switch Out of S Mode
Once your new S mode computer is booted and connected to the internet, go to:
Start -> Settings -> Activation.
Here you should find a wodge of text about Switching to Windows 11 Home. Under it, click the link that says “Go to the Store”. The Microsoft Store will appear and you’ll want to use the “Get” button to remove S mode.
Microsoft may demand that you sign in to your Microsoft account a couple of times, but if you jump through their hoops, Windows will tell you that you have removed S mode for good! You are then free to install any programs you desire.
One Last Thing…
Sometimes, people complain: “Hey, I removed S mode and Microsoft still won’t let me install XYZ Program!” If this happens to you, go to:
Start -> Settings -> Apps -> Apps & Features.
Under the heading “Choose Where to Get Apps”, change the drop-down menu to one of the “Anywhere” options. Close this window and then go try your installation again!