Rant - Windows S mode locked ecosystems

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Matt Strickland

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Mar 3, 2020, 8:43:37 PM3/3/20
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<rant>
Hi all,

Just a frustration rant - students that purchase new lower-end devices that are setup in S-mode, but opting out gives a negative impression to do so, and often just doesn't work!

While mostly for a low-end device I can see the benefits, the lack of printing (as we don't print to modern native printer devices), and poor integration or redirection between traditional apps, and store apps, even with Microsoft ones!

Firstly you would think it would be simple to switch from S-mode, but it relies on the store, updated and connectivity. (I couldn't get devices to switch on-site here at all, after updating)
"Something happened on our end. Waiting a bit might help"

Even more confusing for users, we used to have a simple guide - if you have a chromebook do this, a mac do this, and Windows (10) do this....
Now it confuses users that they think they have Windows 10 and follow provisioning guidelines, but without knowing they have Windows 10 S.
You could get O365 via office.com, now you need to remember to go to the store and sign in.

So thanks Microsoft for not really conveying to users what Windows 10 S is, shipping it factory without opt-out on startup, and making the two products look and feel the same, yet are completely different when it comes to real world legacy systems. It reminds me of Windows RT for ARM.

I guess us IT people are left with explaining the differences, and what limitations are (which differ per site), rather than Microsoft who sell and market the product.
</rant>

Kurt Brookes

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Mar 9, 2020, 5:49:24 PM3/9/20
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We've have the same thing, had to disable it on every new Win10 S device to allow Papercut mobility printing... since Papercut isn't a Microsoft store App.
Even just finding the damn update app in the store can be annoying at times! :(

Sam McNeill

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Mar 9, 2020, 10:45:17 PM3/9/20
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I was going to ask what the apps were that were requring shifting out of 10s but Kurt's given the clue: papercut.

I've actually engaged with papercut 12months ago around getting them to add it to the Store ... hasn't happened as of yet. would be great if they did.

I know this is not the best answer, but don't forget that the current m365 A3 agreement with the MoE entitles State/State-Integrated schools to upgrade student devices to win10 Education at no cost here:


Schools do need to set up the SSO for sign in, and then it's a $0 "purchase" by students to get the license.

Yes, it's more steps, but gives the students Win10 Edu license for the lifetime of the device,

Cheers
Sam

Matt Strickland

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Mar 10, 2020, 4:49:48 PM3/10/20
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Hi Sam,

Yes Printing (or Papercut) is the issue since mobility is a non-store app. (You cant install legacy print drivers either to print to a queue)

My frustration is more in the marketing - you advise your wider community to purchase devices with this OS and this Specification (Windows/MacOS for us) but you now add an exception:
  • After you've setup your device:, if its running Windows S mode and you would like to print, or use Adobe applications, you will need to deactivate S-mode.
Of course then you get messages advising you not to switch, you can never return etc and to non-IT, this raises red flags.

I just wish it was branded differently to easily distinguish for non-IT. Sure you can switch, but its not a 2 minute change.

Matt

Josh Angel

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Mar 10, 2020, 4:53:08 PM3/10/20
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As a side note, setting up email to print is a great work around for those such pesky devices (not just Windows S)

 

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From: <techies-f...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Matt Strickland <ma...@zebis.co.nz>
Reply to: "techies-f...@googlegroups.com" <techies-f...@googlegroups.com>
Date: Wednesday, 11 March 2020 at 9:49 AM
To: Techies for schools <techies-f...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: [techies-for-schools] Re: Rant - Windows S mode locked ecosystems

 

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Craig Knights

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Mar 10, 2020, 4:55:44 PM3/10/20
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or webprint seems to work well too.

Sam McNeill

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Mar 10, 2020, 5:02:11 PM3/10/20
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All fair points Matt.

I know the guy internally who does a lot of the marketing around Win10 Edu and will pass this feedback on to him.

TBH - not sure there is an easy solution around changing this - 10S is what it is - but will certainly share your feedback with the right people,

Cheers
Sam

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Matt Strickland

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Mar 10, 2020, 8:21:54 PM3/10/20
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Hi Sam,

I highly doubt there'd be a change - but I'd like to see more info during provisioning of the device, like an option to select:

Welcome to Windows 10.... blah blah
  • S-Mode - designed for students, more secure and fast etc... or
  • non S mode - most compatibility for school applications, ask your school or company if this is more compatible - (you can switch later)
But I doubt this would happen either.

At minimum at least make it easier to switch - ok so you need a Microsoft Account (forced to make one during provisioning), latest store update(s) applied, admin access AND I *think* Windows has to download the ISO and reinstall itself to make the switch. (Its not pre-provisioned and deleted at a later date?)

I haven't setup a Windows 10 S device from scratch so I'm only guessing its completely transparent to the end-user. But now I know, we will split our induction days into 4 groups - Chromebook, MacOS, Windows 10, Windows 10 S (we do run them all together, but target devices to suit)

Matt


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Sam McNeill

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Mar 10, 2020, 8:56:50 PM3/10/20
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HI Matt,

10s to 10 is just the equivalent of a registry setting change - no need for a new OS or ISO to be downloaded. It does require a reboot.

Just for a sense of scale here - do you have even a rough approximation of the number of BYOD coming into the school that run 10s ? (forget about other versions of Win10 such as Home, Pro etc). I'd just be interested to know if 10s is getting much traction and therefore the scale of the challenge across schools here.

Cheers 

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Matt Strickland

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Mar 11, 2020, 1:02:37 AM3/11/20
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Hi Sam,

I think its minimal at the moment - 5 out of 200 devices in Y9? I think? (we actually just ask students to bring their chromebook from intermediate)
However if you ask me of newly purchased for the year, then those same 5 for every 20?

Ideally once/if papercut offer a mobility app in the store (so we can avoid doc>attach>email>print) then we can get all the devices back on the same path again, and S mode will be less of an issue, with the exception of Adobe which I doubt will ever hit the store anytime soon.

Question: Does "S Mode" have a target criteria for devices? Does the manufacture decide? Microsoft enforce?

Matt
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Sam McNeill

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Mar 11, 2020, 4:30:04 PM3/11/20
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Hey Matt,

Thanks. Good intel.

Regarding this:

Question: Does "S Mode" have a target criteria for devices? Does the manufacture decide? Microsoft enforce?


Whilst we typically see 10s on lower cost devices, it's not only there - e.g. it debuted on a Surface Laptop!  It's not set my MSFT, but the OEM can choose which version of the OS they want to load on the device and sell. Most have multiple SKU for the same hardware with different editions of Win10 on it e.g. 10s, Home, Pro etc.

There is actually a very good solution to this problem and it's called Windows 10 Pro Academic. I'm a little reticent to launch into this here because I want to be seen as contributing constructively to this group and not seen to be "selling" on here, but I think the reality here is that the Pro Academic solution actually is the answer to the 10s challenges you''re seeing and it actually doesn't cost you anything (and may in fact save money for parents/schools).

I'll fire through the main ideas in bullet points and if you want more info I'm happy to give you (or anyone) a call off list to discuss.

Shape the Future Pro Academic Licensing

  • An education only version of Win10 it is the equivalent of Windows 10 Pro, but sold to OEM at heavily discounted pricing so that they can load it into devices that are going into edu markets only.
    • Being that it's Pro Academic you have all the benefits of Pro e.g. domain join, Intune management, AutoPilot onboarding etc (easy upgrade to Win10 Enterprise/Education as well)
    • More info here
  • to ensure that Pro Academic is not sold to non-edu customers, schools / Ministries of Education are required to create a "Letter of Eligibility" requesting the Pro Academic licensing from MSFT for purchases.
    • The good news is that in NZ as a developed market, this can be done online electronically very quickly and easily - called an eLoE
    • The even better news is that for low cost devices (generally CPU of i3 or lower, 128GB SSD or lower, 4GB RAM) you don't even need an eLoE. so for the devices that you're currently seeing landing with 10s on it, you should be able to get Pro Academic on them IF the OEM are going to bring in / sell the right SKU
    • It's worth leaning on the resellers and OEMs to start asking for more devices wtih Pro Academic on it.....
  • So, in short, Pro Academic (via the Shape the Future) licensing is the cheapest version of Win10 anyone can buy - even cheaper than Win10 Home or 10s. 
So what's the catch?

  • To prevent leakage into the non-edu market, we don't/can't sell Pro Academic licensing on devices via retail/consumer channels e.g. the big box retailers than many BYOD devices are often purchased from.
    • We've tried (believe me, we've REALLY tried) to put compliance controls in place e.g. student goes with letter from school and school student ID to request a specific model laptop that has Pro Academic on it, and the specific unit is retrieved from stock out the back that is not even on display etc. Even this was not approved internally to meet compliance.
  • THE SOLUTION: These devices with Pro Academic on them can  be sold via online portals selling directly to school communities. I'm not going to name names here, but you'll all know the providers that have online portals where the school curates a list of devices e.g. 3 Apple devices, 3 ChromeBooks, 3 Win10 devices etc and it becomes more of a 'CYOD' model - parents/students choose from a curated list of devices.
    • In this situation, where students need to log into a portal, the Shape the Future Win10 Pro Academic license CAN be sold.
    • So, if your school was open to engaging with a reseller channel that had a portal, then you can recommend or at least provide the option for students to buy a device with Pro Academic on it.
    • This will be the cheapest edition of Win10 you can get.
  • Of course, for school owned/leased devices you can definitely just get Pro Academic licensing from your standard reseller partner - this will be cheaper than buying Win10 Home and upgrading via the Schools' Agreement.

Matt, all, I hope that helps in some way - again, not wanting to be seen to be selling on this forum,but the above is the best solution, every school is eligible, it does not cost you anything and it solves some of the challenges you're seeing with 10s.

Cheers,
Sam

Landyn Frisby

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Mar 11, 2020, 5:11:46 PM3/11/20
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my rant on this topic. 

The main reason students need to switch out of S mode is to install Google Chrome so they can sign into chrome and get all of their provisioned settings, printing etc. Chrome just works better than edge. Getting users to switch out of S mode is usually a mission in itself. I agree with everything said in this post, users have no idea what S mode is, what it means for them etc. Now the ability to switch out differs from device to device. sometimes it does not require a sign in to the store to switch. sometimes it does, but will not accept the students (school provided) Microsoft account as a Microsoft account and gives an error. Like most MS products the process is complicated - comes with a ton of caveats, if's and but's. Then the favored new MS error messages of "something went wrong..." 

Matt Strickland

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Mar 11, 2020, 6:21:13 PM3/11/20
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something went wrong? Thought id just try an "easy switch".... yeah that works.

smode.PNG


I've also noticed if students open word in S-mode, it doesn't offer to sign in to word with a school/company account, only a Microsoft account.
However if you open the 'Office' app, then sign in (which allows for school/company) then Word, PowerPoint etc works?

Grrrrrr

I think I need to spin up an S-mode machine and see what works and whats broken. Certainly they don't switch onsite.

:(

Sam McNeill

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Mar 11, 2020, 7:48:01 PM3/11/20
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Hey Landyn,

You're probably aware that Edge is switching over to the Chromium code base which means that Intune will allow you to manage settings in both Edge and Chrome which could be helpful moving forward potentially. 

Keep in mind that the Microsoft Account (MSA) is the personal/consumer identity and quite different to the organisational/school O365 account. Given the 10s device has no affiliation with the school, you can't use your o365 account to sign in for the 10S switch .... not helpful when a student likely dloesn't have an MSA. I guess it's the same challenge as having your G Suite identity and personal @gmail.com identity and you can't use them interchangeably.

cheers,


On Thursday, 12 March 2020 10:11:46 UTC+13, Landyn Frisby wrote:

Matt Strickland

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Mar 12, 2020, 12:20:47 AM3/12/20
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Hi Sam,

Also I am hoping (although untested) that the PC mobility plugin for chrome will plug into edge on chromium.
And I'm sure PaperCut can easily port a support version over to Edge.

Matt

Simon Wright

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Mar 16, 2020, 7:48:41 PM3/16/20
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Just wanted to dredge this conversation up again :)

Just had a student with a laptop running Windows Home in S mode.
He is having wifi issues and i thought i would try updating the drivers, but do you think you can do that, nope!

I believe the issue he's having is hardware related, so didn't have time to spend to see if HP has some drive updating application in the store.

Regards
Simon Wright
ICT Manager

Best for boys through the right learning
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Respect - Whakaute | Courage - Toa | Honour - Hōnore | Perseverance - Manawanui | Excellence - Hiranga


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Sam McNeill

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Mar 16, 2020, 10:19:33 PM3/16/20
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Hey Simon,

In many, if not most, cases the Windows Update drivers are the same versions as on the OEM drive download website - but this is not 100% true. You can search this in the Catalog here:


you can also see in the catalog there are specific Win10s drivers in some instances.

H/T to Stefan for educating me about this many moons ago!

Cheers,
Sam 

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Jeffrey B

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May 25, 2020, 3:03:37 PM5/25/20
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Dredging this up from ages ago but only just found it.

There is a workaround to purge the s mode silliness without the store. Just disable secure boot which breaks it, forces windows back to normal mode then re enable secure boot.

As to why it is so bad, it persists through a reimage to the edu version. Will prevent you from forcing a windows os update with MS's own upgrade tool and will prevent you from fixing errors with windows update causing them to stay on old versions.  The worst offender was ironically a surface go.

The need for a MSID to unlock them is insane as if you are fixing it for someone you generally need to make a throwaway account to do it.  Then hope the user does not loose it if the device reverts and need to be enlightened again.

10s is a passable idea with terrible implementation and unnecessary locking.  Easy to fix, just don't hide the fix switch behind the store, let it be local and quick.

Jeffrey.

Matt Strickland

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May 27, 2020, 4:54:19 PM5/27/20
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Thanks Jeffrey, nice catch.

Like you say, 10s is a passable idea, its just disappointing the need to switch requires something (MSID) you may not want to use after switching.

My gripe really is that the standard user doesn't know what an MSID is, and its the somewhat poor association between Windows and a Microsoft Account.

Google have somewhat association with for example YouTube, outside of recognised core collaboration productions like GMail, Docs, Sheets etc... (and some association to Android for any GMS enabled phone)
Apple seem to have the best association as most users recognise an Apple ID is used on most Apple devices.
Microsoft outside of Windows/Office have Xbox, but what else?

If I ask someone "Do you know your Apple ID?", they know what I mean, "Your Google account?" usually know, "Your Microsoft Account?" .... huh? ohh my O365 work account..... *sigh*

Matt

On Tuesday, 26 May 2020 07:03:37 UTC+12, synack wrote:
Dredging this up from ages ago but only just found it.

There is a workaround to purge the s mode silliness without the store. Just disable secure boot which breaks it, forces windows back to normal mode then re enable secure boot.

As to why it is so bad, it persists through a reimage to the edu version. Will prevent you from forcing a windows os update with MS's own upgrade tool and will prevent you from fixing errors with windows update causing them to stay on old versions.  The worst offender was ironically a surface go.

The need for a MSID to unlock them is insane as if you are fixing it for someone you generally need to make a throwaway account to do it.  Then hope the user does not loose it if the device reverts and need to be enlightened again.

10s is a passable idea with terrible implementation and unnecessary locking.  Easy to fix, just don't hide the fix switch behind the store, let it be local and quick.

Jeffrey.

On Tue, 17 Mar 2020, 15:19 Sam McNeill, <s...@mcneill.co.nz> wrote:
Hey Simon,

In many, if not most, cases the Windows Update drivers are the same versions as on the OEM drive download website - but this is not 100% true. You can search this in the Catalog here:


you can also see in the catalog there are specific Win10s drivers in some instances.

H/T to Stefan for educating me about this many moons ago!

Cheers,
Sam 

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Steven Boothe

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Jul 9, 2021, 12:58:59 AM7/9/21
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Just tried the disabling of Secure Boot but S Mode now appears to have been patched to be more resilient against such conveniences.

Microsoft documentation still wrongfully misleads that S Mode can be turned off via the store and your properly licensed Microsoft account.

Sam McNeill

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Jul 9, 2021, 1:32:45 AM7/9/21
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Are these on new devices shipping with 10s still!!??

As I’ve shared here before: Win10 Pro Education is the best Win10 edition to be buying for least frustrating experience! Happy to share more if interested.

Cheers

Sam

Sent from my iPhone

On 9/07/2021, at 4:59 PM, Steven Boothe <steven...@gmail.com> wrote:



James Andrewartha

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Jul 9, 2021, 2:10:47 AM7/9/21
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Hi Sam,

On 9/7/21 1:32 pm, Sam McNeill wrote:
> Are these on new devices shipping with 10s still!!??
>
> As I’ve shared here before: Win10 Pro Education is the best Win10
> edition to be buying for least frustrating experience! Happy to share
> more if interested.
We've had replacement devices show up in 10S mode. Mostly Surface Gos.

Thanks,

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Mob. 0424 160 877

Steven Boothe

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Aug 30, 2021, 2:02:35 AM8/30/21
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I'd be curious to know what the point is of assigning educational licenses of Windows 10 to students is if they cannot then use those said licenses on devices their parents unknowningly purchased with S mode on them?

Andrew Godfrey

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Aug 30, 2021, 2:22:42 AM8/30/21
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There's an app for that.

Windows store has an app that can turn S off so it's normal win 10.

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Steven Boothe

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Aug 30, 2021, 3:00:32 AM8/30/21
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Thank you Andrew, yes that's what Microsoft documentation say, except it doesn't work with the Windows 10 Student licenses, hence the question.

Sam McNeill

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Aug 30, 2021, 4:47:20 AM8/30/21
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Hi Steven,
What's the student licenses you're referring to?

This:


The Windows 10 A3 licenses in the M365 Admin tenant provided by the MoE?

Cheers

Steven Boothe

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Aug 30, 2021, 9:06:24 PM8/30/21
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Hi Sam, thanks, yes the A3 Windows 10 licenses for Students provided by the MoE.

Sam McNeill

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Aug 30, 2021, 10:25:23 PM8/30/21
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Hi Steven,

These Windows A3 for Students licenses can be used to license school owned/purchsed devices that are used by students and can be used to do upgrades from Home/Pro to Enterprise/Education. If you use Windows Subscription Activation for Pro it will happen automatically. If you're going from Home you might need to use the VLSC keys first.

If you're talking about parent/student owned BYOD and you want to go from Win10 Home to higher version then use the Education upgrade with Kivuto:
It's self-service and it lasts for life of the device. If you use the Windows A3 for Students, this only applies whilst the student is at the school.

Hope this helps,
Sam

Grant

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Aug 31, 2021, 4:14:46 AM8/31/21
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Hi Sam

Can you confirm that the Kivuto store is only elible for State Schools with a Microsoft agreement and not for Private. 

I managed to set up a store in a State School, but failed to be able to do the same for a private school. 

Regards
Grant Saul
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From: techies-f...@googlegroups.com <techies-f...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Sam McNeill <s...@mcneill.co.nz>
Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2021 2:25:23 PM

To: Techies for schools <techies-f...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: [techies-for-schools] Re: Rant - Windows S mode locked ecosystems
 

Sam McNeill

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Aug 31, 2021, 6:37:22 PM8/31/21
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Hi Grant,
Good to hear from you mate.

Kivuto does not distinguish between private/state schools but rather the agreement type.

From the website:

Get the Most Out of Your Agreement

If you have licensed all of your staff and faculty for Windows through a Microsoft Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) or a Microsoft Open Value Subscription – Education Solutions (OVS-ES) agreement, you qualify to offer Windows 10 Education to your students at no additional cost.

Your current private school will be too small to qualify for an EES (1000 paid users minimum - State schools are collectively covered by MoE Schools Agreeemnt with MSFT) but you may not have an OVS-ES agreement either - might have been done via CSP?

Cheers

Techies for schools

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Sep 6, 2021, 7:50:51 PM9/6/21
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Thanks Sam, I'll take this as confirmation that school accounts provisioned with valid Microsoft O365 licenses are of no use when prompted for a valid Microsoft account to exit Windows S mode. If I am wrong, please advise. Thank you.

Kind regards,

Steven

On Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at 2:25:23 PM UTC+12 Sam McNeill wrote:
Hi Steven,

These Windows A3 for Students licenses can be used to license school owned/purchsed devices that are used by students and can be used to do upgrades from Home/Pro to Enterprise/Education. If you use Windows Subscription Activation for Pro it will happen automatically. If you're going from Home you might need to use the VLSC keys first.

If you're talking about parent/student owned BYOD and you want to go from Win10 Home to higher version then use the Education upgrade with Kivuto:


It's self-service and it lasts for life of the device. If you use the Windows A3 for Students, this only applies whilst the student is at the school.

Hope this helps,
Sam

On Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at 1:06:24 PM UTC+12 wrote:
Hi Sam, thanks, yes the A3 Windows 10 licenses for Students provided by the MoE.

On Monday, August 30, 2021 at 8:47:20 PM UTC+12 Sam McNeill wrote:
Hi Steven,
What's the student licenses you're referring to?

This:


The Windows 10 A3 licenses in the M365 Admin tenant provided by the MoE?

Cheers

Ben Green

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Sep 6, 2021, 8:13:59 PM9/6/21