Windows 10 Home vs. Pro vs. S mode: Understanding the Differences

Windows 10 is still a solid choice, even with the arrival of Windows 11. It offers similar features to its newer counterpart and, in some cases, even performs better. If you’re planning to install Windows 10 on a new computer, you’ll have to decide which version to choose. Should you go for Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, or perhaps Windows 10 in S mode? In this article, we’ll explore the most popular versions of Windows 10 and help you determine which one suits you best.

Windows 10 Home vs. Pro vs. S mode: A Feature Comparison

Deciding on the right Windows 10 version for your needs can be a daunting task. To help you make an informed choice, let’s compare the three main versions of Windows 10 and explore their features, so you can find the one that best suits your computing requirements, whether it’s for general use or educational purposes.

What is Windows 10 Home?

A man in front of a Windows 10 PC.

Windows 10 Home is the standard version of the operating system, specifically designed for general users who primarily access Windows at home. It includes all the essential features that cater to a broad consumer market. With Windows 10 Home, you’ll have access to popular applications like Cortana, Outlook, OneNote, and Microsoft Edge. While Home is compatible with the Windows Insider program, it offers limited security and group management services compared to other versions.

Windows 10 Home provides all the necessary features for everyday use. You can take advantage of voice commands, pen sketches, touch displays, Windows Hello login, and more. The Home version also comes with built-in device encryption, but it’s important to note that it’s not as robust as the BitLocker encryption service.

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Although Windows 10 Home doesn’t come pre-installed with the full Microsoft Office suite, it does include a 30-day free trial for the Microsoft 365 subscription service, allowing you to explore its features. Additionally, Windows 10 Home provides access to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, offering 5GB of free storage. You can also opt for additional storage through the Microsoft 365 subscription.

For gamers, Windows 10 Home supports the Xbox app, game streaming, Xbox controller compatibility, and the Xbox Game Bar.

While Windows 10 Home may lack some advanced professional features, it does offer mobile device management capabilities. This can be particularly useful for individuals or families who want to control app and security settings for connected phones.

What is Windows 10 Pro?

The Windows 10 Pro Start Menu.

Windows 10 Pro includes everything available in Windows 10 Home, along with additional security and management services. This version is typically purchased in bulk by companies or schools. However, you can also choose Windows 10 Pro for your personal desktop or laptop instead of opting for Home.

While Home and Pro share core features, Windows 10 Pro offers additional extras that cater to professional users and go beyond traditional work-related tasks. For example, Pro includes the powerful BitLocker Encryption and Windows Information Protection, which provide enhanced access control.

Windows 10 Pro also offers more customizable packages for education and enterprise purposes. You’ll have access to features like Windows Sandbox, which allows you to run untrusted apps in a virtual environment.

Business users will appreciate the inclusion of Microsoft services tailored for their needs, such as Windows Store for Business, Windows Update for Business, and Enterprise Mode browser options. These versions also offer extended features for purchasing and uploading content in bulk. Virtualization options, such as Remote Desktop compatibility, Client Hyper-V, Shared PC configuration, and Azure Active Directory, are also available in Windows 10 Pro.

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While the additional features of Windows 10 Pro are valuable to IT administrators, they may not be essential for the general PC user.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft 365 combines elements of Office 365, Windows 10, and Mobility and Security features. This re-packaging of Windows services offers various plans like the E5, E3, and F1 plans, which include Windows 10 Enterprise at no additional cost.

What is Windows 10 in S mode?

A person using a laptop that is running Windows 11.

Windows 10 in S mode is a specialized version of Windows 10 designed for lightweight devices, offering enhanced security and simplified management. It focuses on providing a streamlined experience, prioritizing approved applications and services while maintaining a high level of security.

Windows 10 in S mode isn’t a separate edition of Windows 10 but rather a special mode that significantly restricts certain functionalities. This approach ensures faster performance, longer battery life, improved security, and easier management. Although you can switch out of S mode and switch to Windows 10 Home or Pro, doing so requires administrative access. Therefore, S mode can be a useful tool for limiting children’s access to certain content.

Functionally, Windows 10 in S mode supports the same basic services as the underlying Windows 10 license. It aims to cater specifically to schools and offers educators the necessary tools for managing their classes. However, to achieve these results, S mode removes some significant capabilities.

The most notable difference is that Windows 10 in S mode only allows apps to be installed from the Windows Store. This limitation enables Microsoft to better combat malware and ensure a certain standard of app quality. However, it does restrict the download and usage of certain applications.

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In S mode, Microsoft Edge is the default browser, and the option to change it is unavailable. This decision enhances security by providing greater control over browsing activities. Similarly, Bing functions as the default search engine for S mode, although you can use the version with ChatGPT if you prefer.

Startup times and app activities are generally faster in S mode since there are no Windows legacy apps to slow things down. As long as you don’t consume excessive RAM, S mode offers a snappy experience. Additionally, files are automatically saved in the cloud via OneDrive, reducing storage consumption on smaller hard drives. Basic Windows features like Cortana, Windows Hello facial recognition, and Windows Ink for stylus use are also retained in S mode.


Choosing the right version of Windows 10 depends on your specific needs and requirements. Windows 10 Home provides a solid foundation for everyday use, while Windows 10 Pro offers additional security and management features suitable for professional settings. Windows 10 in S mode, on the other hand, prioritizes lightweight devices, simplified management, and enhanced security.

For more information on Windows 10 and its various versions, you can visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc., a leading provider of technology solutions.

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