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Surface Go: how to turn Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Home or Pro

I bought a Surface Go device recently to check it out and write a thorough review later. I would not have done so if the device would come with a locked Windows 10 S operating system and no option to upgrade.

Why? Because Windows 10 S limits you to what is installed by default, the Microsoft Store, and web applications. All legacy Win32 programs don’t run on Windows 10 S. While some users may not mind, if you just use Office and the Internet, you may not mind that you cannot install Win32 apps, I do mind and it affects my buying decision.

Microsoft’s Surface Go is 10″ 2-in-1 tablet that comes preinstalled with Windows 10 S. I bought the 128 Gigabyte SSD 8 Gigabyte of RAM version, an extra Surface Go Type Cover, and a USB-C to USB 3.x and 2.x adapter.

Anyway, the very first thing I did after I completed the initial setup was to figure out how to turn the Surface Go into a full Windows operating system.

Note: While you can turn an S mode edition to Home or Pro, you cannot go back to S mode once you have made the change unless you wipe the device and start from scratch.

Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Home/Pro

windows 10 home s mode

The very first thing that you may want to do is verify the version of the operating system. One option to do so is to use the built-in tool winver.

Open the Start Menu, type winver, and select the result (Tip: see a list of Windows tools like winver here). Windows displays the version underneath the copyright line in the program window that opens.

The system on the screenshot above returned Windows 10 Home in S mode.

Microsoft’s operating system did not display tips or a suggestion in regards to turning the S version into a full version.

Here is how that is done in detail:

The process is straightforward once you know what to do. A restart is not required and the whole operation takes less than ten minutes to complete.

Step 1: Open Activation in the Settings application

windows 10 s to home pro

Open the Settings application with the shortcut Windows-I. If you prefer to use the menu, select Start > Settings instead.

Select Windows Update > Activation to display the operating system’s activation status. It should highlight the version of Windows at the top (again Windows 10 Home in S mode in the case of the device that I used), and the Activation status (usually activated with a digital license).

Below that you see options to switch to full versions of Windows. The offered version depends on the current edition of Windows.

If you have Windows 10 Home in S mode, you may upgrade to Windows 10 Home for free. Likewise, if you have Windows 10 Pro in S mode, you may upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free. You may upgrade Home editions to Pro. Microsoft asked for  €99 for the upgrade.

Select “go to the Microsoft Store” under the “Switch to” link on the page.

Step 2: Switch out of S mode

switch out of s mode windows 10

The second and final step of the conversion happens in the Microsoft Store application. The Store application displays the “Switch out of S mode” page that offers information and an actionable button to start the conversion.

The only feature difference between S mode and Full mode that is highlighted on the page is the ability to install “any app” in full mode.

Select the “get” button at the top to start the process; this takes just a moment and changes the “get” button into an “install” button.

Select install to start the conversion from S mode to Home or Pro depending on the supported edition.

The process completes silently in the background, a restart is not required and the version that is listed in winver should return Windows 10 Home as the edition afterward.

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