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How To Get Into S Mode on Windows

September 24th, 2023

S Mode is a special mode of Windows 10 and 11 that only permits you to install programs from the Microsoft Store. It usually comes pre-installed as a variant of Home edition on new low-cost PCs. There are countless articles on the Web that will tell you how to exit S Mode, but none that I can find on entering it. Today, we're going to set up a virtual machine running Windows 11 Home in S Mode for testing purposes.

As far as I know, "Home in S Mode" isn't a real SKU like "Pro" or "Education". I was not able to find an ISO that would install Home with S Mode. It comes pre-installed on new, usually low-cost PCs.

The only official way to leave S Mode involves signing in to a Microsoft account. However, most of its functionality seems to be tied to a single registry value. It is theoretically possible to leave S Mode without a Microsoft account by changing this registry value. The reverse of the bypass method can be used to get a Windows install into S mode.

You will need:

To verify this guide, I used virt-manager on Arch Linux. The VM had no TPM, no Secure Boot capability, 6 GiB of memory, and 30 GiB of storage. The ISO I used was en-us_windows_11_consumer_editions_version_22h2_updated_aug_2023_x64_dvd_4bc1b021.iso with the SHA256 hash 53f13686e17fdf60dd332f939ae084fc41fd3e9f028ce01d47a7abd96fdc5537.

  1. Boot the Windows installer and proceed as normal. Click I don't have a product key and select Windows 11 Home if prompted.
  2. If you get a message saying "This PC can't run Windows 11", you need to bypass those checks by setting some registry values.
    1. Press Shift+F10 to open Command Prompt and run regedit.
    2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\Setup.
    3. Right click on the right panel and select New > Key.
    4. Name the new key LabConfig.
    5. Right click on the right panel and select New > DWORD (32-bit).
    6. Name the new value BypassTPMCheck.
    7. Right click the new value and select Modify.
    8. Change the value to 1.
    9. Repeat steps 5-8 for the values BypassRAMCheck and BypassSecureBootCheck.
    10. Close the Registry Editor and Command Prompt.
    11. Press the back arrow in the top left corner and go to the next page like you did before.
  3. Agree to the license terms and proceed with a custom install.
  4. Choose the unallocated space and click Next. In testing with a 30 GiB disk image, the installer notified me that the drive was too small, but let me proceed anyway.
  5. If you end up at the beginning of the installer at this point, make sure your VM is configured to boot from the hard disk image.
  6. When you reach OOBE and it asks you to select a country, open regedit like you did before.
  7. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\CI\Policy.
  8. Change the value labeled SkuPolicyRequired to 1.
  9. Restart the VM.
  10. Select a language and choose a hostname or skip it to get an automatically generated hostname.
  11. Continue without a Microsoft account by trying to sign in to an account that has been locked, like It doesn't matter what you type in the password field. Click Next when you encounter the error about the locked account.
  12. Enter a name for the local account and continue with an empty password to bypass the security questions. If desired, a password can be added after OOBE has completed.
  13. Laugh out loud when it tells you that "Microsoft puts you in control of your privacy." Disable all the switches on this page and click Accept.

When you reach the desktop, you can verify that you are in S Mode in the Settings. Go to System > About and scroll down. winver will also say you are running Windows 11 Home in S mode.

There are some caveats using this method. For example, it seems to be impossible to exit S Mode the normal way in the Microsoft Store. The Get button just doesn't appear on the page.

This is definitely S Mode, however, because attempting to open almost any executable will result in the pop-up stating it is not a "Microsoft-verified app". Notably, this includes basic system administration utilities like the Registry Editor and Command Prompt.

I would like to write more about S Mode and Windows in general. Nobody else seemed to have a guide on getting into S Mode, so I figured I would start there so others can investigate it. Expect more about Windows in the future, but I can't promise anything with my track record. See you next time.