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 intended for those in education. The Windows 10 S operating system restricts users to only download apps from the Microsoft Store app store. As a result, it's touted as being more secure than the main Windows 10 OS.

In 2018, Windows 10 S was rebranded to S mode by Microsoft due to consumers being confused by multiple versions of Windows 10. S mode is essentially now a mode 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. For all intents and purposes, 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 restricted 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, there are several limitations when running a Windows 10 laptop or PC in S mode:

  • Apps or programs can only be downloaded from the Microsoft Store app 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:

  • Due to the inability to download programs from websites while using Windows 10 in S mode, there's a reduced chance 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. This results in 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?

Windows 10 S, now called Windows 10 in S mode, is designed for high school and college or university students. This is mainly due to the fact the mode limits how the devices are used, keeping the focus on studying and assignments.

A device running Windows 10 in S mode may also be of use to consumers who aren't very tech savvy and are prone to downloading malware and viruses on a regular basis. This is due to its curated app selection in the Microsoft Store that only offers apps marked as safe by Microsoft.

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

Video games can be played on a computer running Microsoft's Windows 10 S or Windows 10 in S mode, however, the title selection is limited to those available in the Microsoft Store 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 them being listed in the Microsoft Store.

Can I Watch Movies on Windows 10 in S Mode?

Digital movies and TV episodes can be viewed via the usual websites via the Microsoft Edge web browser and in apps such as Netflix and Amazon Video, which can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store.

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

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

Screenshot of the Windows 10 Settings app showing the operating system version
  1. Select the small square icon in the lower-right corner of your computer screen to open the Windows 10 Action Center. If you have a touchscreen device, you can open Action Center by swiping in from the right side of the screen with your finger.

  2. Select All settings.

  3. Select System.

  4. Scroll down the left menu and select About.

  5. On the right side of the screen, 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 also currently active.

    If the rebranding of Windows 10 S to S mode has yet to roll out in your region yet, or perhaps you haven't updated your device in a while, your information may say Windows 10 S.

  6. That's it.

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 app store. These can be installed on your computer in the same way you would install them on a regular Windows 10 device:

Screenshot of the Windows 10 Microsoft Store app store.
  1. Open the Microsoft Store app by selecting its icon on your Start Menu, or on your Taskbar if you have it pinned there. It's the small icon that looks like a white shopping bag with the red, green, blue, and yellow Microsoft logo on it. Alternatively, you can open it by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard, typing "Store," and selecting Microsoft Store from the search results.

  2. Once Microsoft Store is open, you can search for apps via the search bar in the top-right corner, or by browsing the featured apps on the main screen.

  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. Select it to download the app.

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

  5. That's it.

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

Screencaps of the Windows 10 Microsoft Store menu.
  1. Within the Microsoft Store, select the ellipsis (three dots) in the top-right corner of the Microsoft Store.

  2. Select Downloads and Updates to view all of your recently downloaded and updated apps.

  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.

Screencap showing how to uninstall an app in Windows 10 S Mode
  1. Press the Windows key on your keyboard.

  2. Select the All apps link in the top-left corner.

  3. Find the app 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.

  4. Select the Uninstall option.

  5. You'll be asked to confirm the process. Select Uninstall again, then select Uninstall once more to delete the app from your device.