Somehow I missed it — well, not somehow; I know how — but about 2 years ago, Microsoft introduced something they call “Window S Mode” on new non-professional editions of Windows.
If you’re in S mode, you literally cannot install any software that doesn’t come from the (hamstrung, poorly populated, very limited) Microsoft Store. I only ran into this today because we’re trying to get a new consultant up and running on the double, so we dropshipped a consumer grade laptop to him when Dell couldn’t get him a “real” one before December (about which: WTF?), and it came with Windows Home.
The new guy needed some help getting software installed, and so as is our usual approach I got him on a GoToMeeting session intending to use the meeting’s remote control features to get things rolling quickly. Except now GTM kinda of biases its web app, which doesn’t allow remote control.
No problem; I’m used to walking folks through switching to the desktop app, which does support remote control.
Except the steps that usually result in downloading and running the GTM desktop installer kept shunting him into the Windows Store, in which there is no GTM app. WTF?
Oh yeah. S mode.
As an aside, let me say this: I know what they’re doing here. S Mode is an attempt to copy what Apple did several years ago. New Macs ship with an option set so that they’ll only run software from the Mac App Store. Superficially, this is the same, except:
On a Mac, changing the setting is dead easy; it’s just an option in the Mac version of the Control Panel. On Windows, you have to follow a much more complex path that requires you to have a sign-in with Microsoft.
On a Mac, you can just turn this setting back the other way any time you want. On Windows, it’s a one-way change. You can’t return to S mode later.
So even when Redmond copies, they fuck it up. I mean, I’m supportive of machines coming configured more for Aunt Millie than the likes of me, but the pathway out of this more limited mode has to be much, much more transparent and simple. Don’t get in my fucking way and tell me it’s for my own good. And for the love of Christ don’t do it on a computer where adults are trying to work.