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Windows 10 'Redstone 5' may add a 'Switch to S Mode' option

Microsoft's latest Windows 10 Redstone 5 build includes a hint about a new S-Mode-related feature, as well as some new Windows Autopilot provisioning options.

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This week's test build of Windows 10 Redstone 5 includes a clue that Microsoft may be adding a "Switch to S Mode" option to the product.

Exactly how this will work isn't discernible from the hint about hte option that looks likely to be added to Settings, as described by Paul Thurrott on Thurrot.com.

Right now, as of the recently introduced Windows 10 April 2018 update, users can switch out of S Mode via an app from the Store, but cannot switch back into it easily.

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Windows 10 S Mode, for those needing a refresher, is a locked-down mode of the various Windows 10 editions (Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education) that allows users to run Microsoft Store apps only. It's designed to be more secure and less prone to performance degradation over time. Switching out of S Mode to a full-fledged version of Windows 10 is free for all users.

Thurrott and others are speculating, or at least hoping, that users could use the coming mode to temporarily switch out, so as to install drivers and downloadable non-Store apps, and then they could switch back without those apps being blocked or disappearing. I have to say I'd be surprised if this is how this option will work, as I'd think that would remove any security or performance value proposition that S Mode purports to bring to the table -- unless there are some kind of new so-far-undisclosed controls involved.

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I've asked Microsoft for comment on this Switch to S Mode option. I'm curious if it's more than just a way to switch to S Mode without needing a Store app, but not something allowing users to switch back and forth between S Mode and the full-fledged Windows 10 editions. No word back yet.

In other Windows 10-related news, Microsoft is rolling out some new Windows Autopilot features to Windows Insiders this week.

Windows Autopilot is Microsoft's technology meant to make provisioning and maintaining Windows easier by eliminating the need for IT pros to load custom images.

There's a new Self-Deploying Mode available to Insiders today that "extend(s) the zero-touch experience from IT to the user deploying the device," according to a June 7 blog post. Currently, Windows Autopilot requires users to select basic settings like Region, Language, and Keyboard and enter their credentials. With Self Deploying Mode, all users would need to do is power on a device with Windows AutoPilot to have it be ready to go.

Read also: Microsoft looks to add security, stability with Windows 10 IoT

There's also a new Windows Autopilot reset feature available to Insider testers that makes it possible to reset and redeploy an Intune-managed Windows 10 device without requiring physical access to a device. "All you need to do is click a button in Intune," officials said.

Insiders can test these features with this week's Windows 10 Redstone 5 test build (17686) and Intune immediately, officials said.