Surface Go device

Windows 10’s S Mode won’t let you install software from outside the Store or even change Edge’s default search engine. If you purchased a Surface Go this week, you’ve likely been trapped in S Mode.

Update: This problem has been fixed.

This problem affects people who purchase a Surface Go, Surface Laptop, or any of the other devices that come in S Mode. You’re supposed to be able to leave S Mode for free. Microsoft originally planned to charge $50 for leaving S Mode, however, so the option to leave S Mode is in the Store app.

The Store app’s “leave S Mode” feature has been broken for three days, however. As a thread on the Microsoft Answers forum describes, users are seeing blank gray screens in the Store app when attempting to leave S Mode.

Gray screen when trying to leave S Mode in Windows 10's Store app

Obviously, this is pretty bad: People who purchased a Surface Go or another S Mode PC at the start of this week have been totally unable to leave S Mode and actually install the software they want to use on their device all week. As far as Windows bugs go, being trapped in S Mode is a pretty bad one that can make someone’s new hardware totally useless. How many Surface Gos have been returned to stores this week?

There do seem to be some ways around this: One forum poster claims he spent two hours on the phone with Microsoft Support, who eventually fixed the problem. Some say that if you reset your PC and quickly use the Store to leave S Mode, you can get out of it. But, if the Store app updates itself, the leave S Mode feature will break once again. Microsoft needs to fix the problem.

Thanks to Woody Leonhard at AskWoody and Barb Bowman for spotting this.

RELATED: What Is Windows 10 or Windows 11 in S Mode?

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »