Windows 10 will launch with a full 7 different versions (including mobile versions) but this article will focus on the two most important for most small business IT specialists: “Home” versus “Professional.” Both versions will come with the full core functionality that Windows 10 is bringing, but the “Professional” version will have a few key features that small business will be interested in. Read on to learn more
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Windows 10 Overview
Windows 10 takes an iterative approach to the familiar OS that has dominated both the consumer and business computer market for the past decades. The most notable change is that Windows 10 combines some of the best features of the Windows 7 start menu with the Windows 8 start screen. The result is a beautiful and intuitive user interface that is both familiar and fresh.
Other features include: better split screen multitasking in a single monitor as well as in multiple monitors, a new web browser called “Edge” is replacing Internet Explorer, and a new virtual assistant called Cortana that works similar to Apple’s Siri. For a full list of features, visit Microsoft’s website.
Windows 10 “Home” Version Price and Features
Officially the “home” version of Windows 10 is just simply called “Windows 10.” The home version includes all of the advertised features of Windows out of the box and will be the first full Windows version to be a completely free upgrade for users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1.
This means that on July 29, when Windows 10 is officially released worldwide, all computer with Windows 7 or later can be instantly upgraded for free via Microsoft Update. The update is opt-in only, so users do not have to worry about their computer being upgraded against their will.
Windows 10 Pro Version Features
The professional version of Windows comes with all of the features included with the home version, as well as:
Assigned Access 8.1 - assigned access is a setting that allows administrators to limit a standard account to only be able to access a single app - effectively making the computer a kiosk.
BitLocker and EFS - effective methods of encrypted and protecting full computer systems or individual files.
Business Store - similar to the standard application store, but with additional business-specific applications.
Current Branch for Business (CBB) - allows IT departments to constantly receive security updates for Windows 10 while testing feature innovations in the process.
Domain Join and Group Policy Management - enhanced group and domain management.
Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE) - the ability to run Internet Explorer 11 in order to gain access to websites that require compatibility.
Hyper-V - advanced virtualization software from Microsoft in order to run other operating systems in a VM.
Azure Active Directory Join - identity management software for Azure systems.
Private Catalog - create and access a business/enterprise specific app store that has access to apps that the organization has purchased licenses for.
Remote Desktop - client and host remote desktop capabilities.
Windows Update for Business - advanced Windows Update capabilities to determine update windows, delivery, and other settings.
Ability to upgrade to Enterprise edition.
Should My Small Business Go With Home or Pro?
The question that small business IT staff are pondering is whether or not the Pro version is worth it. Windows 10 is a free upgrade, but only to the OS version that you are already running (Windows 7 and 8 Professional versions upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, all lesser version upgrade to Windows 10 home).
We would advise IT staff to browse through the Pro feature list above and evaluate the usefulness of the above features. Many businesses rely on some or all of the above features, and other do not. In general the Pro version features are used for advanced management of multiple PC’s across a network and/or enhanced data protection.
Is “Free” Really Free?
The free upgrade has been a major feature of Windows 10 that Microsoft has proudly broadcasted across many channels and even pushed to Windows 7 and 8 users desktops. Microsoft has promised a free upgrade and free support for all Windows 10 users for the “supported lifetime of the product.” The potential problem is that we do not know what the supported lifetime of Windows 10 is in Microsoft’s mind.
Sales of Windows operating systems is one of the Microsoft’s largest revenue sources (along with Microsoft Office), so they certainly have a plan in mind on how to continue to retain that revenue. The problem is that they haven’t revealed how they are going to do it yet.
What Other Windows Versions Are There?
Microsoft has been adamant at marketing Windows 10 as a consistent experience across all platforms. Windows versions include:
Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Enterprise
Windows 10 Education
Windows 10 Mobile
Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise
Windows 10 IoT Core
For more information on Windows 10, visit Microsoft’s website or talk to your local Microsoft representative.
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