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What’s the Difference Between Windows 10 Home vs Pro Editions?

Windows 10 is available in several “editions”. More advanced editions include additional features and cost more.

When it comes to personal or small business use, the choice generally boils down to either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Professional.

Most new machines come with Windows 10 Home, particularly when sold to individuals. Unfortunately, Windows 10 Professional includes a couple of features I consider exceptionally convenient, even for the average home user.

It’s Windows 10 Professional that I generally recommend for everyone.

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Group Policy Editor

Windows 10 Pro includes the Group Policy Editor (File, Run, gpedit.msc). Windows 10 Home does not.

This might seem like a fairly benign omission, and to be completely honest, for most folks it’s no big deal.

The problem — from my perspective — is that the Group Policy Editor provides easy access to a number of important system settings and configuration choices.

Group Policy Editor

The work-around for Windows 10 Home edition involves modifying registry settings manually.  Playing around in the registry is certainly do-able, but it’s error prone, and certainly more arcane than most people are interested in dealing with. The user interface provided by the Group Policy Editor is a significantly easier, more comfortable way to make common changes to your system.

Remote Desktop

The remote desktop client is present in all editions of Windows 10. That means you can connect from a Windows 10 Home machine to another Windows machine that supports the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) service.

Unfortunately, Windows 10 Home doesn’t support RDP, so you cannot connect to a computer running Windows 10 Home edition using Remote Desktop; you’ll need Windows 10 Professional.

Remote Desktop in Windows 10 Home

This becomes significant for anyone with multiple computers in a home. (It is possible to use Remote Desktop across the internet, but it’s not easy. Ironically, that means that Remote Desktop is best used to connect to local machines … remotely.) I use it constantly to connect to computers running in my basement, for example, without needing to run up and down stairs each time.

Honestly, it’s Remote Desktop that makes Windows 10 Pro worth it for me, and Windows 10 Home significantly less useful.

The work-around for Windows 10 Home edition: third-party tools like Team Viewer or VNC (Virtual Network Connection). Some are more powerful, allowing easy connection across the internet; others are more along the lines of Remote Desktop, and most easily set up locally.

BitLocker

If you’re at all interested in encrypting the entire hard drive on your machine using built-in support, you’ll want Windows 10 Pro. BitLocker, Windows’ whole-drive encryption support, is available only in Windows 10 Professional.

Bitlocker

Honestly, if you travel with your laptop, BitLocker is a pretty compelling reason to get Windows 10 Pro.

The work-around for Windows 10 Home edition: third-party tools like VeraCrypt.

Windows Update for Business

Windows 10 Pro allows you to pause updates for up to 35 days.

Pause Updates

While most consider this insufficient control over the entire update process, it’s more than Windows 10 Home offers.

The work-around for Windows 10 Home edition: disabling the Windows Update service and then remembering to turn it back on.

Other features

Microsoft has a side-by-side comparison of Windows 10 Home vs Pro Editions.

Most of the differences not discussed above boil down to things that generally apply to corporate or specialized circumstances.

It’s the four features above that drive my selection and my recommendation.

One other difference: price

Naturally, Windows 10 Pro is more expensive than Windows 10 Home.

As of this writing, a quick check online puts Pro at a 60% premium over the Home edition, if purchasing the operating system directly. When buying a new computer, the price difference is often significantly less, plus it’ll come pre-installed.

All the “Pro” features I’ve discussed have alternative solutions that can be used on Home. Whether the hassle of setting them up yourself, or perhaps needing to purchase them, is worth it to you, or whether these are features you might not even care about, I can’t say.

What I can say is that getting Windows 10 Pro is a slam dunk for me, and it often makes my life a little easier when helping others if they have it as well.

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7 comments on “What’s the Difference Between Windows 10 Home vs Pro Editions?”

  1. The ability to defer updates has apparently been removed from Windows 10 Pro…(?) “Windows Update” settings are no longer found among Control Panel settings… or they’ve been well hidden.

    • Windows Update would be found under Settings. Right-click the Windows icon and click Settings (or press the Windows key and click the gear icon). The click on Update and Security. From there, you can toggle the Pause updates switch to defer updates for up to 35 days.

      • Mark, I have “Windows 10 Pro” (64-bit), with all updates. The Pause Updates switch just isn’t where you describe. Could it have been moved??

        NOTE: This was an upgraded OS, from Win 10 Home, downloaded and activated with a software key from a previously purchased but unopened Win 8 Pro CD. Could the fact it was an upgrade, rather than a clean install of Win 10 Pro, make a difference?

  2. It’s funny, a couple of years ago, I bought a Dell desktop with Windows 7 Professional for the price of Windows 7 Home. I upgraded the RAM and upgraded to WIndows 10 Pro. So basically the computer was free.

  3. Windows 10 Pro comes with Skype built in. However until the present day, you cannot send a chat message (It keeps “Sending…”).
    The Microsoft support for this is a shame.

    The only workaround is to “uninstall” Skype (which you can’t; it is just hidden and inactive) and install Skype 7.40. But if by mistake you sign in into the Microsoft Skype account the new Skype with its hideous format and thinned-out setting options is back.

    This goes for all newly set up installations.

    One cannot delete built-in games and advertising functions either except through risky moves in the command prompt.

    I needed a dual-language setup. In hindsight I should have installed Win 7 Ultimate instead (although Win 10 is a little faster).

  4. Does it really matter what’s the difference between Windows 10 Pro and Home? Whatever you thought they were, the differences or features will change shortly. Stay tuned to the next set of updates …. Summer, Fall, Spring, Creators, November, Anniversary, Fall Creators, Version 1xxx, OS Build 1xxxx, KB4xxxxxx, Update for Business, Tuesday Afternoon Update, Tea Time Update …. (OK, a couple of these are fake, at least for now). Anyone keeping track of this?

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