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mosaix

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I'm looking around for a cheapish (£300) Windows laptop for a friend.

There are a few around but they all come configured with Windows 10 in S Mode. Apparently this means that you have to buy software through the Microsoft App Store and are stuck with Edge as your browser.

This also means that you can't download such products as Open Office so you have to lease (or buy?) Microsoft office products etc. Also no Firefox or DuckDuckGo. :mad::mad:

The Microsoft S Mode FAQ page seems to imply that you can switch out of S mode (It's a permanent switch) fairly easily. A couple of reviews seem to imply it's not easy at all and Microsoft go out of their way to make it difficult.

Anyone had experience of S Mode?
 

RJM Corbet

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I've got Windows 10 on a second-hand Toshiba I bought from a computer place for £200. I don't know about Windows S mode. It sounds like a complete rip-off. My laptop gives me no problems access to Google Chrome, Firefox and Open Office on Windows 10.

The Microsoft S Mode FAQ page seems to imply that you can switch out of S mode (It's a permanent switch) fairly easily. A couple of reviews seem to imply it's not easy at all and Microsoft go out of their way to make it difficult.
My thoughts are unprintable. Microsoft -- you suck!

Why would anyone want to lock themselves into having to use only Microsoft products?
 
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mosaix

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Looking around some forums re S Mode, apparently Microsoft give dealers a cut-price deal if they configure S Mode on their laptops because they hope to lock-in customers and get the money back by subsequently selling office products etc.

However, this would count as restrictive trade practices so they have to offer a way out - but they make it very difficult.
 

Venusian Broon

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I have a HP 14 inch Ryzen 3 with 128G of disk space and 4G ram. I think it came in a bit over £300, maybe £350 from memory - including a case for it. I too only have Windows Home and it appears that I have access with Edge to any other program, same as RJM.

Got it from CurryPCworld if thats helpful.

I did pay for windows 365, because I wanted word and excel, but I'm pretty sure you could download openoffice on it if that's what you wanted.
 

mosaix

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I have a HP 14 inch Ryzen 3 with 128G of disk space and 4G ram. I think it came in a bit over £300, maybe £350 from memory - including a case for it. I too only have Windows Home and it appears that I have access with Edge to any other program, same as RJM.

Got it from CurryPCworld if thats helpful.

I did pay for windows 365, because I wanted word and excel, but I'm pretty sure you could download openoffice on it if that's what you wanted.
Thanks, VB. I've been looking at the HP 14 range. I don't think yours is available any more. Reviews seem to indicate the display on the latest range is not all that good. Trouble is 'not all that good' is subjective and it depends what your used to.

I think I'll show my friend the reviews then take him along to PC World and let him decide. His current machine is quite old and very slow and he only uses it for email and writing a few letters so a display that 'is not all that good' might be quite acceptable.

Question: did you buy Office 365 or do you pay an annual fee?
 

Foxbat

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This also means that you can't download such products as Open Office so you have to lease (or buy?) Microsoft office products etc. Also no Firefox or DuckDuckGo. :mad::mad:
Maybe a silly question but can't you just download Firefox? If you can't I wouldn't touch this product with a barge pole. Sounds like retail bullying to me.
 

RJM Corbet

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Looking around some forums re S Mode, apparently Microsoft give dealers a cut-price deal if they configure S Mode on their laptops because they hope to lock-in customers and get the money back by subsequently selling office products etc.

However, this would count as restrictive trade practices so they have to offer a way out - but they make it very difficult.
It's like smart energy meters. I recently changed energy suppliers. When I was googling around I decided to opt for edf because I was with them once before and I know what I'm getting.

I was filling out the online application until reaching the part where it said I would be required to install a smart meter.

So I logged out and went on looking. Next day I got a call from edf asking why didn't I complete the application? I said because I don't want a smart meter.

So she said: On no, that's fine then; you don't have to do it if you don't want to.

They try to con people into installing a smart meter by telling them it's obligatory, but it is not.

Maybe a silly question but can't you just download Firefox?
Answer seems to be no, you cannot?

EDIT
Windows 10 laptops now seem to come with S Mode installed by default, because the seller gets a better deal by doing so.
 
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CupofJoe

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Microsoft probably promote and defend their actions by stressing the peace of mind and extra security for casual users that come from a [sort of] closed system.
 

Overread

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Maybe a silly question but can't you just download Firefox? If you can't I wouldn't touch this product with a barge pole. Sounds like retail bullying to me.
This might give some more info What is Windows 10 in S Mode?

Basically S mode is locking the OS to work only though the Microsoft Store and thus through microsoft applications. So yep even if you could access websites with downloadable content and programs you can't download and install them onto the computer. It's basically like a powerful school or child lock on the computer that blocks you out of a lot of the options.

As the article notes you can (one time) disable it and go back to using the computer as normal. Honestly S mode is likely good enough for many people who just want to use it for facebook, word and the odd application or the casual game through the MS Store. It likely even makes it safer for them because its blocking them out of a lot of things that they could otherwise break their computer with (downloading random programs from the net etc....).

Honestly S mode might be a fiddle to disable but the article notes once its done its done so it shouldn't be a barrier. If you are a confident computer user you'll be fine disabling it.
 

Venusian Broon

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Thanks, VB. I've been looking at the HP 14 range. I don't think yours is available any more. Reviews seem to indicate the display on the latest range is not all that good. Trouble is 'not all that good' is subjective and it depends what your used to.

I think I'll show my friend the reviews then take him along to PC World and let him decide. His current machine is quite old and very slow and he only uses it for email and writing a few letters so a display that 'is not all that good' might be quite acceptable.

Question: did you buy Office 365 or do you pay an annual fee?
Yeah no idea what a good quality display means in those sort of reviews. I just use the laptop for writing and a bit of browsing when having a coffee. Never had a problem and never noticed the screen being bad.

I bought the annual office 365 premium - which was about £50 ish from memory, and I can't remember if there was a full lifetime price or why I didn't take that. I think if the laptop lasts five years I'll be overpaying for it!
 

Finch

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The idea of a restricted computer is not a bad one. I have a HP Crome book ,it is also a restricted computer , if your happy with the limitations it's a good trouble free machine. It is easy to turn off the S mode . Go to settings , it is there under security , and Something ? . You will then need to go to the App Store to download Windows 10 home , it's free , and your done .
 

RJM Corbet

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It's basically like a powerful school or child lock on the computer that blocks you outo of a lot of options.
Then it also compels the user to be satisfied with inferior Microsoft products like Windows Maps -- which is far inferior to Google Maps?
 

Overread

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Then it also compels the user to be satisfied with inferior Microsoft products like Windows Maps -- which is far inferior to Google Maps?
Far as I can tell you can still access google and other websites and use features like google maps- you just can't set them to default.
Clearly MS are weighting it as a locked system that has a heavy bias to their own services. They can only get away with it because the system has an opt out feature; though interestingly they don't let you turn it on and off (its likely because turning it off after installing 3rd party software might break the S system and how it works - esp for programs that might start up at launch and have elements which run in the background).
 

Brian G Turner

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My daughter got one like this last year for uni:

8GB of RAM IMO is the key pointer, otherwise there's a danger of it running slow and laggy.

Never heard of S-Mode, and my family have bought 3 Windows 10 machines over the past year without any issue. Yes, we use a lot of third-party software. :)
 

Overread

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@RJM Corbet MS has often divided their OS into various packages with some variations between them. This just sounds like they are upgrading into the professional mode of the software. It might even be nothing more than a name change; though I've no idea what it would actually mean in terms of what is and isn't possible with it or what is included with it.
 

RJM Corbet

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@RJM Corbet MS has often divided their OS into various packages with some variations between them. This just sounds like they are upgrading into the professional mode of the software. It might even be nothing more than a name change; though I've no idea what it would actually mean in terms of what is and isn't possible with it or what is included with it.
I checked in settings, the update would have to be installed manually, it's not automatic. I hope Microsoft does inform affected users that they're going to find themselves in S Mode after updating. If that's the case. I've checked my laptop and I've got Windows 10 Home, so hopefully no nasty surprises.

I must say that in spite of some rather desperate marketing to make it sound attractive, the S Mode doesn't sound anything most people would select by choice? Microsoft is sneaking it through a bit, imo.
 

mosaix

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I have a HP 14 inch Ryzen 3 with 128G of disk space and 4G ram. I think it came in a bit over £300, maybe £350 from memory - including a case for it. I too only have Windows Home and it appears that I have access with Edge to any other program, same as RJM.
Just got back from PC World. They have an HP 15-db0599sa. It's a 15.6" display, 4GB memory, 1TB disc, Windows 10 Home (Not S mode!) edition for £269.00. Not a bad price. The display looks fine but, when you compare it to the laptop next to it, it's not quite as sharp. Still, for office and emails, I'm sure it will be ideal. 4GB instead of 8GB hardly matters either.

Nearly all the other laptops have either a 125gb or 256gb SSD and advertised as - 'Ideal for gaming!' I suppose they're saying the SSD is faster than a traditional disc. My friend, at 75, is older than me and not really into gaming. His budget is £300 so £269 will be a pleasant surprise.

It's probably end-of-line (reduced from £329) but HP kit is usually well made and there's probably at least five or six years life in it.

Thanks or your input, everyone.

Edit: Forgot to mention that there isn't a dedicated graphics processor. Another reason that it wouldn't be suitable for gaming.
 
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Elckerlyc

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A PC or Laptop fit for gaming would certainly have a graphics card onboard. The size of memory matters (the more the better), but the size of the harddisk not so much.
SSD is faster as HDD (several times over), but not really suitable for gaming when the games require many memory-swaps and harddisk actions. The best configuration would be an SSD for loading the OS and other software and an additional HDD for your data. Both a SSD and a HDD in a laptop is not likely, except in special gaming-laptops but those don't come cheap.

Anyway, all this Windows talk reminds me again why I am using Linux. :D I am free as a bird and all software is freeware. No big company who thinks it should think and decide for me (and has it own ideas about my privacy). Yea!
 
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