Examine Windows client editions and capabilities

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Before you install Windows, you should select the most suitable edition for your organization. The different editions of Windows address the needs of consumers ranging from individuals to large enterprises. This topic describes the different features of each edition available for Windows and later.

Windows edition overview

Windows 10 / Windows 11 Edition

Audience

Availability

Home

Individual home use

Everyone

Pro

Small and mid-sized businesses, advanced users

Everyone

Pro for Workstations

Users with advanced performance and storage requirements

Everyone

Enterprise

Large enterprise organizations

Available to Volume License customers

Enterprise LTSC

Large enterprise organizations with restrictive change requirements

Available to Volume License customers

Pro Education

Comparable to Pro for school staff, administrators, teachers, and students

Available to academic Volume License customers

Education

Comparable to Enterprise for school staff, administrators, teachers, and students

Available to academic Volume License customers

IoT Core/Enterprise

Fixed purpose and appliance devices

Available through Windows IoT Distributors

Windows edition details

Home

Home is the consumer-oriented desktop edition of Windows. It offers the familiar Windows experience for PCs, tablets, and the new hybrid laptop/tablets. Features with Home edition include :

  • Microsoft Edge
  • Windows Hello
  • Virtual Desktops
  • Photos, Maps, Mail, Calendar, Music and Video, and other built-in universal Windows apps
  • Device encryption
  • Firewall and virus protection
  • Always On VPN
  • New updates and features received automatically

Pro

Pro edition builds on the features of Windows Home, with many extra features to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. Pro edition is also suitable for advanced consumers who are looking for features such as BitLocker and virtualization.

Some of the features Pro edition provides:

  • Windows Autopilot. Uses an existing Windows installation to transform or reset the device to a “business-ready” state, applying settings, policies, apps, and edition changes, without the need to reimage.
  • Dynamic Provisioning. Allows an out of the box PC to be configured for an organization with minimal effort.
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) support. Allows devices to be managed through an MDM instead of traditional management solutions.
  • Domain Join. Computers that support domain join can be joined to an Active Directory domain.
  • Ability to join Azure Active Directory. This enables them to perform single sign-on across Windows, Microsoft 365, and other cloud-hosted apps and services.
  • Group Policy Management. Computers that support the Group Policy Management feature can be managed using Group Policy when they are joined to an Active Directory domain.
  • BitLocker. BitLocker functions as a full volume encryption and boot environment protection solution.
  • Windows Information Protection (with MDM management) helps protects apps and data leaks on organization and personally owned devices.
  • Assigned Access. Allows devices to run different applications based on the user.
  • Remote Desktop. This feature enables Remote Desktop connections from compatible Remote Desktop Connection clients.
  • Client Hyper-V. Client Hyper-V enables you to host virtual machines on a client computer that has sufficient hardware resources.
  • Microsoft Store for Business. Single store for finding and managing apps in an organization.
  • Windows Update for Business. A cloud-based Windows Update solution that includes the ability to configure distribution rings, maintenance windows, peer-to-peer delivery, and integration with existing tools such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
  • Enterprise Data Protection. This new Windows feature enables organizations to control which applications can access sensitive data.
  • Granular user-interface Control. This feature enables administrators to lock the user interface so that users can perform specific tasks only. This feature is useful when deploying Windows as a kiosk.
  • Enterprise State Roaming. Provides users a unified experience across organizational Windows devices.

Pro for Workstations

Pro for Workstations edition offers the same features as Pro edition. It includes additional features intended for workloads that require higher performance and resilience.

  • ReFS (Resilient File System). ReFS provides cloud-grade resiliency for data on fault-tolerant storage spaces and manages very large volumes.
  • Persistent memory. Support for non-volitile memory modules (NVDIMM-N), where data and files in memory persist when the workstation is turned off.
  • SMB Direct. Supports network adapters that have Remote Direct Memory Access capability. This offers improved performance when transferring large amounts of data on remote SMB file shares.
  • Expanded Hardware Support. Takes full advantage of high-performance hardware such as server-grade Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors, with support for up to 4 CPUs and 6 TB of memory.

Enterprise

Enterprise edition builds on the features of Pro edition, with additional features that meet the needs of large enterprises. Enterprise edition is available to Volume Licensing customers only. They can choose the pace at which they adopt new technology. Enterprise edition also supports a broad range of options for operating system deployment and device and app management.

Some of the features Enterprise edition provides:

  • AppLocker. AppLocker is a feature of Windows that enables administrators to control which applications can act on a computer, including limiting access so that only specific versions of an application can run.
  • Universal Print. A modern print solution that organizations can use to manage their print infrastructure through cloud services from Microsoft using printers that support Universal Print.
  • Start menu layout control. This feature enables you to use MDM policies or Group Policy to customize the appearance and content of the start menu.
  • Microsoft Defender Credential Guard. Virtualization-based security isolates secrets so only privileged users can access them.
  • Microsoft Defender Application Control. Controls what applications run within your environment to help block against malware and untrusted apps.
  • Microsoft Defender Application Guard. Opens untrusted websites in a Hyper-V container to isolate in case the site is malicious.
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V). Enables organizations to deliver Win32 applications to users as virtual applications.
  • Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V). Capture user-customized Windows and application settings and store them on a centrally managed network.
  • License rights. For virtual desktops and edition step-up from Pro edition using cloud activation.
  • Desktop Analytics. Insights and recommendations about your computers, applications, and drivers.
  • DirectAccess. While this feature is supported, its recommended organizations use Always On VPN, which is available in Home, Pro, and Enterprise and Education editions.

Enterprise LTSC

Enterprise Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) is a special edition of Enterprise that Microsoft will not update with any new features. Enterprise LTSC only gets security updates and other important updates. You can install Enterprise LTSC to devices that run in a known environment that does not change. A common example of this would be a PC that is used as part of a medical or industrial system. These environments are typically closed systems designed to a particular specification that would be impacted by traditional updates. The differences between Enterprise LTSC and the normal Enterprise edition include:

  • Does not receive feature upgrades
  • No Microsoft Edge browser (can be installed separately)
  • No Microsoft Store client
  • Many built-in universal Windows apps are missing

Microsoft does release an updated version of the LTSC edition approximately every three years. Windows Enterprise 2019 LTSC is the current release, and includes the cumulative updates provided up to and including version 1809. The next Windows Enterprise LTSC version is expected to be released based on the 21H2 update.

Windows 11 LTSC is not yet available. It's recommended that customers with devices that are best suited for LTSC scenarios continue to use Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC.

Note

The Long-Term Servicing Channel edition was previously called the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB).

Pro Education and Education

Pro Education and Education offer the same features as Pro and Enterprise editions respectively, except for Long-Term Servicing Channel. These editions of Windows have configurations more suitable for school staff, administrators, teachers, and students. Pro Education and Education edition are only available through academic Volume Licensing.

IoT Core/Enterprise

The IoT Edition of Windows is designed for fixed purpose devices. Examples include automated teller machines, point-of-sale terminals, industrial and medical devices. Windows 10 IoT Core is a smaller OS designed to run a single app, while Windows 10/11 IoT Enterprise is a full version of Windows Enterprise with specialized features.

IoT and LTSC, while they might sound similar, are intended for different purposes. LTSC is typically deployed to a computer, for use in a specific process. It is typically installed by and licensed by the company using it. IoT is embedded on a specific device or appliance by the manufacturer. A consumer might purchase the device, but the license has already been purchased by the manufacturer.