Microsoft hit it out of the park with Windows 10. It is hands down the most advanced and secure operating version of Windows. It has universal customized apps and features plus strong security encryption for laptops, tablets, and desktops. It is efficient and secure and the new editions and automatic updates make it simple to use.

If you’re thinking of an upgrade to Windows 10, it’s natural to wonder which would be the best option for you and that depends on what kind of uses you need it for. Also, Windows 10 Home vs. Windows 10 Pro – Which one is better? Do you want something for use on everyday tasks? Maybe looking for a more advanced system for a business? The editions are pretty similar but there are still major distinctions to consider.

So, when considering which to choose, let’s think about your goals.

• Will this be to use for entertainment and basic tasks?
• Are features such as Microsoft Office and Stick Notes imperative for your productivity? 
• Will you be using your device for business?
• What security features are essential?

So you’re looking at Windows programs and trying to decide if you go with Windows 10 Home or Pro. There are a few different factors to look at so you can consider the differences and what goals you have for its usage. It might be surprising to learn that there are actually 12 versions of the Microsoft Windows 10 program. For general consumers, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 in S mode will be what are included within desktops and laptops that are prepackaged with the program. The other editions are more targeted toward enterprises, small businesses, and educational use.

The options can seem overwhelming. How do you know which is right for you? Let’s take a closer look at all of the various features so you can choose what to do when you upgrade your current OS or look to purchase a new PC.

Windows 10 Home Overview

If you want to use your device to do things such as surf the Internet, check email or social media, pay bills, or stream, it’s likely that Windows 10 Home is a good fit. There’s a lot of universal apps that can be used on any Windows-compatible device as long as you have a Microsoft account and they also have built-in security with these features.

For entertainment, there is internet protection to guard against any malware while gaming or streaming shows. Additional parental controls can also help manage a child’s screen time. The WIndows Start Menu, digital pen, Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Mail and other familiar tools are also available for productivity with Windows 10 Home. If you want something more business-minded, consider Pro instead. Windows Hello is a built-in security feature allowing users to sign into their device with facial recognition or a fingerprint. This enhances the security of your device and keep you safe from any threats or compromises.

Note that Windows 10 Home is packaged primarily for the user who just uses their computer at home. All of the main features that the general public is accustomed to are available which include Microsoft Edge, OneNote, Outlook, and Cortana voice assistant. It is also compatible with the Windows Insider program but its functions are limited.

As a general user, you will notice that any features that are important to you are what is available. There are pen sketches, touch displays, voice commands, the Windows Hello login, and more. There is also an integral device encryption that is activated by default but it is different than BitLocker, which is a service that other users may be used to using.

Note that Windows 10 Home does not come with Office installed. The full Office Suite includes programs such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. However, it does include a 30-day free trial subscription to Microsoft 365 that users must subscribe to before it ends. Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud is accessible with the Windows 10 Home edition and it is automatically set up with your Microsoft Account. This allows for 5GB of free storage but additional storage can be purchased with the Microsoft 365 subscription.

Gamers might be glad to know that game streaming, the Xbox app, game DVR, and Xbox controller support among others are also supported with the Windows 10 Home version.

Basically, while there is not accessibility to numerous features often used in a professional environment, there is the ability to have mobile device management. This allows families and individuals to control security settings and apps for connected smartphones.

Windows 10 Pro Overview

This is the Windows 10 version geared more toward professionals and businesses, particularly if there is a need for additional capabilities and enhanced security. It has a lot more management and security services than the Home version but otherwise already has most of what Windows 10 Home has to offer and then some. Generally, companies or schools buy this version in bulk but it can also be configured to other PCS to include it instead of Home and the basic at-home user does not need it but it does have good features for company or education purposes. It’s great because smaller businesses don’t even necessarily need to have tech support personnel on staff but can still have remote access to control devices and protect data.

Windows 10 Pro not only includes access to business versions but also includes Windows Update for Business, Enterprise Mode browsers options, and Windows Store for Business plus others. There is even a mode that allows users to buy and upload bulk content. Plus, there are Remote Desktop capabilities, Hyper-V, Azure Active Directory, and other features that would be helpful to your IT admin but not usually to the basic user.

Do you need these features?

• Cloud security support
• Remote access to devices
• Enhanced productivity apps and features 
• Additional data control protection
• Ability to connect to a corporate or school network

If these seem like features that would best serve you, go with Windows 10 Pro for the enhanced protection and device management.

Windows 10 Pro has a lot of flexibility both for on-site device management as well as online. It has amazing enhanced security features built in and all the safety of being secure just with authorized users being able to tap into certain files that might be sensitive.

Windows 10 S Mode

Designed for use by lighter devices, Windows 10 in S mode helps with better security and makes management easier. It isn’t exactly a different version of Windows 10 but instead a special one. It limits the capabilities of what Windows 10 can do in order to allow for longer battery life, allow your device to run faster, be easier to manage and to increase security. Users may opt out of this mode and go to the regular Windows 10 Pro or Home when needed. Ideally, Windows can operate in S mode in devices such as Chromebooks, where schools with much easier upkeep but increased security and as far as functionality, it has the same basic services of a regular Windows 10 license. It’s just a good tool for educators and classroom management though it does take some functionality away too.

The biggest difference is that Windows in S mode only lets apps be installed only from the Windows Store. It does help keep malware out and keep the app quality high but it does limit what people can use. Also, the default browser in S mode is Microsoft Edge. It cannot be changed so if anyone wants to use another browser, it is not supported. Also, the default search engine is Bing. This also allows for additional security for users.

Also, in S mode, the app activities as well as startup times will be operating quicker as long as you don’t use too much RAM. Also, OneDrive will automatically save files so they’re directly on the cloud rather than using device memory. Some of the basic features of Windows such as Windows Hello facial recognition, Windows Ink for stylus use, and Cortana’s voice recognition will still operate with this version.

To use Windows 10 in S mode, any PC is capable. If a manufacturer ships it that way, that is how you will get it but all PCs can be switched out of S mode by selecting the appropriate option in the Windows Store. Depending on the license you select, the PC will then operate on Windows 10 Pro or Home. Many low-cost laptops generally can be purchased with Windows 10 S as the default operating system.

Windows 10 Pro vs. Home – Which to choose?

If you are a user who is actually building a PC, you might be facing several expenses, especially if you are wanting a system that you will be using for gaming where you’ll desire better resolution and higher settings. If you’re looking to build a gaming system, you can still use Windows 10 Home or Pro even for those systems.

For a Windows 10 Home license, the retail license version is $119 while the Pro version is $199. Oftentimes, OEM keys can be bought with hardware for around $109 for Home or $149 for Pro. Basically, expect to pay roughly $40-80 of a difference for these operating systems. So is that money that could be better spent elsewhere in your system?

Since the days of Windows XP, Microsoft has offered a Pro version of the operating system versions. It usually has a few features that usually the more expert users tend to gravitate toward. Windows 10 Pro is geared more toward business use. It has features like domain binding and group policy management that are applications some users may find super useful. Let’s take a look at some of these features that come with Windows 10 Pro and look at any other free alternatives to some of these, if applicable.

1. Remote Desktop 

You will still be able to start Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) sessions using Windows 10 Home. However, you cannot control your PC remotely from another device on your network. If this is a dealbreaker, look at free options such as TeamViewer, RDP Wrapper, or TigerVNC that have similar functions as well as other features

2. Bitlocker 

If security is a concern of yours and you want to keep your data safe from hackers or if you are transitioning from a MACOS and would prefer an option closer to Apple’s Filevault , then you may want to spend the extra money on Windows 10 Pro. Full disk encryption plus encryption of individual files can be provided by Bitlocker. While other software encompasses similar features, it is not built into the operating system. Make sure to get an SSD or HDD that will support any hardware acceleration for Bitlocker if you don’t want to lose any of the performance of your system.

3. Trusted Boot

This feature protects a PC from any rootkits. It also works along with Secure Boot in order to keep your computer system free of malware. It is also controlled by you, the user, so you can check the start-up process components before loading. Though it is good for peace of mind, it is targeted at business users where a top priority is security.

4. Windows Sandbox

Of course you shouldn’t even open suspicious files. However, some people get curious and open them anyway. Anonymous software could be helpful but it also could be malware. You can install a virtualization solution and run the program in a sandbox so it will not cause any harm to your system. As part of Windows 10 Pro, that feature comes with it.

5. Hyper-V

Do you run virtual machines on CPUs that support virtualization? You may be using Hyper-V if you need a Windows exclusive hypervisor. If you are going to run VMS, it might be worth getting Windows 10 Pro. However, if all you need is virtualization, VirtualBox is a free option that has several other features plus can run on other systems besides Windows. While this is included with your Windows 10 Pro license, you must download and install it separately.

6. Business Features & Memory Limits

Aside from the features listed, there are other differing operations between Windows 10 Home and Pro. A maximum of 128 GB of RAM is supported by Windows 10 Home while Windows 10 Pro supports 2TB of memory. It is not very likely that you would exceed the limits of the Home version unless you were running numerous virtual machines at once.

There are some other features for group policy management such as Assigned Access. This is usually just used by people within the workplace. This allows an authorized admin to be able to lock down Windows and only allow access to certain users under a specific account. Additionally, Group Policy allows an admin to restrict some Windows features and to not allow anyone to change any settings within the operating system. While useful for an admin, it is not very useful for operating a home system.

An admin can also control a system using Windows Update for Business. It allows for changing of system updates or to allow to use a default update that could cause any incompatibilities with older software that could otherwise impact business. It’s actually better to keep Windows up to date rather than to select an option to keep it from updating.

Windows 10 Home is suitable for most users. For general use, there is no use to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Business and security is the main focus of the functioning of the Pro version. Plus, with free options that are alternatives, it will help you save money all while getting everything you need.

Windows 10 system requirements

You might need to know some of these basic requirements when updating to Windows 10 Home, especially if you’re upgrading from an earlier version of Windows. Here is what you need to be compatible.

Requirements for Windows 10 Home

  • 1 GHz or faster compatible processor
  • Up to 20 GB available hard disk space
  • Video card: 800 x 600 screen resolution or higher. DirectX® 9-compatible graphics processor with WDDM driver
  • Internet access

Requirements for Windows 10 Pro

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) processor or faster
  • Up to 20 GB available hard disk space
  • 1 GB of RAM for 32-bit, 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Required video card: 800 x 600 screen resolution or higher. DirectX® 9-compatible graphics processor with WDDM driver
  • Internet access

Note: You’ll need to create a Microsoft account (MSA) to use some features in Windows 10 for Home and Pro.

Can you upgrade to Windows 10?

Before actually completing the upgrade to Windows 10 Home or Pro, make sure your device can handle it. In order to check what version of Windows your system is currently running, select Start, Settings > Systems and click About.

Under Device specifications, System type shows what version of Windows your device is running. It also clarifies whether this version is 32-bit or 64-bit.

Under Windows specifications, you can see the edition and version currently running on your Windows device.

Also make sure that your device has the necessary hardware. Verify the settings to make sure it can handle the upgrade. Also, make sure you back up your current device. This ensures that you won’t lose any data stored on it. Make sure that you have the most recent versions of the required drivers to avoid any issues with Windows 10 incompatibility. Check the device manufacturer’s website and search for the drivers to operate Windows 10. Do you have enough storage on your hard drive to upgrade? Not having enough space can be problematic and can keep it from installing appropriately. This depends also on which version of Windows 10 you opt for.

How To Upgrade to Windows 10

Are you ready to upgrade and wonder how? You can buy a device that has Windows 10 already or you can upgrade your current device. If you already use Windows 8 or 8.1, you can easily upgrade. Depending on the age of your device, it could be slower or have more technical issues. If you are already upgrade to Windows 10 Pro and decide you would rather run Windows 10 Home instead, you will have to do a complete clean install.

While the tech talk of deciding which Windows 10 version is best for you, it can be overwhelming. However, when you really think about what regular functions and features you need on the average basis, the comparisons of the two versions are invaluable. Think about whether you need it for personal or business reasons and then be confident that you are running the most efficient, secure, and powerful Windows OS there has ever been.