What is S Mode in Windows 11? Should I use it? Windows S Mode puts your computer in a completely locked state. Once activated, S Mode lets you enjoy the highest level of security Microsoft can offer. However, there are still limitations.
These restrictions themselves shouldn’t bother you if you’re not a proficient user or want your kids to use technology safely. You’ll also love S Mode if you’re a businessman who handles sensitive documents.
However, if you are an advanced user or an adult who likes the flexibility of making your own choices, you should get the big picture before you put your computer in S Mode on Windows 11. Let’s explore what S Mode is and if it’s the option for you.
Table of contents:
- What exactly is S Mode in Windows 11?
- Should I use my PC in S Mode?
- What are the limitations of using S Mode?
- How to enable S Mode in Windows 11
- How to exit S Mode in Windows 11
What exactly is S Mode in Windows 11?
S Mode is a feature that Microsoft created to give users a safe, smooth experience with the Windows operating system. In this mode, your computer only has access to basic resources and drivers. More notably, S Mode freezes all other RAM-hungry apps and processes that can impact the CPU. Windows S Mode sounds very familiar if you’ve used Chromebook.
Should I use my PC in S Mode?
It also depends on the case. Here are 4 reasons you might consider using your PC in Windows S Mode:
1. You want to ensure your child’s safety
S Mode restricts the apps that can run on the computer to only Microsoft Store apps. Therefore, your child cannot download software from third-party sources. Also, they can only browse the web on Microsoft Edge, with added online security to prevent them from accessing unsafe websites. However, the browser does not correctly block access to all websites. So you should consider other parental control options for PC.
You may also want to buy a standard PC for your child and put it in S Mode, if you don’t want to buy a Chromebook for almost the same price. You can then take the computer out of S Mode as your children’s technology needs increase. But remember, it’s pretty easy to turn off S Mode, and school-age kids can learn to bypass parental controls.
2. You are dealing with sensitive documents
Window S Mode prevents users from installing third-party apps. This restriction means that your chances of installing malware on your computer are greatly reduced. So, if you are an entrepreneur who regularly deals with documents containing company secrets, you can use your personal computer in S Mode.
Remember, you cannot use in-house or proprietary software in S Mode. So if your company has developed an app for business, running S Mode will make it impossible for you to use it. Using your computer in S Mode is only useful when you get a company laptop running Windows Pro or Enterprise.
3. You want to do a digital detox
If you find yourself needing to get rid of your digital addiction, but can’t completely avoid your PC, putting it in S Mode can help. Games on the Microsoft Store are not the most interesting options. And many handy third-party apps aren’t there either. So you’ll only use the apps you need for your productivity work.
However, keep in mind that S Mode is a one-way street. There’s no such thing as leaving S Mode and coming back. So if you need to install a new non-Microsoft Store app for work, you’ll have to leave S Mode. An alternative would be to use a separate desktop or web-based version of the application, if available.
4. You want the Chromebook experience
S Mode gives you an experience similar to what Chromebooks offer. So you can buy a high-end PC and try S Mode for a few days or weeks. This way you can decide if you want all that power or if the basics are right for you. More importantly, you have the option to leave whenever you want – something you don’t get in Chromebooks.
5. Computer Starts Faster
If you’ve been using a Windows computer for a while, you’ll know that it takes longer to boot up when you install more applications. This lag is caused by some auto-running apps that start working in the background after you turn on your computer. In particular, third-party software and malware are the cause of this lag. S Mode allows you to use applications optimized for Windows and reduces the risk of malware infections that slow down your computer.
What are the limitations of using S Mode?
Your computer works the way Microsoft intended it to: safely and efficiently. However, there are limitations:
1. You can only download apps from the Microsoft Store
Windows S users can only run Modern Universal Windows Platform (UWP) store apps. These are apps directly created or verified by Microsoft developers. Other types of apps provided through third-party licenses to the Microsoft Store will not be available in S Mode.
2. You cannot use the command line or the code editor
S Mode isn’t for you if you’re a developer, hacker, administrator, or IT person managing a company’s computer network. S Mode prevents users from using Window Terminal or PowerShell. You can’t use Linux either.
The main reason is that these applications run outside of a secure environment that protects the operating system from malware. So VS Code, other code editors and developer tools are indisputable.
3. Windows Registry is limited
Like the command line and code editor, the Windows registry is also not limited to users in S Mode. The Registry is a powerful database of configuration settings that allows expert users to customize Windows to their preferences – beyond the usual settings. However, modifying the Windows registry can harm the PC, which S mode is designed to prevent.
How to enable S Mode in Windows 11
You cannot correctly activate S Mode. It comes pre-installed or bundled with the operating system. So when you get a new laptop, you’ll have the option to use it in S mode when you first set it up. Some computers, like Surface, are only offered with S mode and you don’t get the option to try S Mode first.
How to exit S Mode in Windows 11
Before you begin, note that leaving S Mode is irreversible. You cannot leave and come back.
The first step is to check if your PC is running S Mode in the first place. You can do this by navigating to Windows > Settings > System > About. Your Windows specs will show up if you’re running Windows 11 Home in S Mode.
If your PC is actually running Windows 11 Home in S mode, you can exit by navigating to:
- Windows > Settings > System > Activation.
- Click Upgrade your edition of Windows.
- Follow the instructions on the screen.
S Mode will take responsibility for maintaining network security on your behalf. You also get a quick performance out of your hardware. This nature makes S Mode more suitable for those who don’t want to tinker with technology. If you still can’t decide, the good news is that you can buy a regular PC and try out S Mode. The difficulty is that you can’t go back after making a choice.