Alas, that’s a topic for another day. Rather, we’re here to hopefully help any of those looking to migrate to Windows 10 in the immediate future. Windows 10, just like its predecessors, comes in many versions. However, there’s only two editions that are applicable to most end users: Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro.
To many, the finer distinctions between the two may not be readily apparent. So, whether you’re a power user, a PC gamer, or a casual user, we’ll explain the differences between the Home and Pro versions of Windows 10 and where those differences matter.
64-bit or 32-bit?
On top of the Home and Pro designations, there is also bit versions to consider. Windows 10 comes in 64-bit or 32-bit variants. The main determinant is your PC’s CPU. 32-bit Windows versions are for older processors, while 64-bit versions are for modern hardware; generally, anything later than about 2007.
To find out what bit version you need:
- Right-click the Start menu
- Navigate to “System”
- Next to “System type,” there will be a description regarding your bit-version and processor.
Windows 10 Core Features
All versions of Windows 10 offer the same basic functionality, with certain shared features. Most versions offer the same essential experience Windows users are accustomed to and only diverge in areas specific to different use type. We’ll go over a few of the most important core elements of Windows 10 below.
Cortana is one of the biggest new additions to Windows in recent years and is Microsoft’s AI powered digital assistant. Cortana is located immediately adjacent to the Start button and can launch searches, set reminders, check email, and adjust settings, among other things.
Virtual Desktop is another Windows 10 core feature, making virtual desktops easier. This feature allows users to create multiple desktops that can be switched between and move open windows between as well.
Windows Hello is a biometric security feature in Windows 10 that uses either facial recognition or a fingerprint scan to log users into Windows, rather than a traditional password. It can also be used for store purchases, and many apps have begun to offer Windows Hello integration.
Dark Mode is now all inclusive, meaning users who have longed for a dark mode for Windows File Explorer can rejoice. In Windows 10, you can now “dark mode all the things” with File Explorer, Start Menu, Task Bar, Action Center, and the settings window.
Game Mode is also available to all Windows users. With Game Mode, Microsoft promises to limit background activities and processes, and instead divert those resources to the game running in the foreground. It’s hard to say exactly how much this feature helps, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Other gaming features include the Game Bar, Game DVR, Xbox One controller support, and the Xbox app.
Windows Defender is the native Windows antivirus protection. It offers real-time protection options and offers integration with Microsoft’s Edge browser. It also receives ongoing updates to protect against the latest threats.
There are other shared features available to all users, but these are some we consider to be the most critical. You can further compare the segmentation of features over here.
Windows 10 Home
The Windows 10 Home edition is light on professional and business features, choosing to shed some extra security focus, but offers the familiar Windows experience most users are after. If you’ve never used a Pro version of Windows, you won’t be missing anything here.
For gamers, access to all of Windows inbuilt gaming components can be had with Windows 10 Home. Users can sync their Xbox Live accounts, stream games from an Xbox One to a PC, utilize native Xbox One controller support, enable or disable Game Mode, and use the Game Bar for broadcast and streaming options.
There are also the regular options for everyday computing and productivity; Mail, Calendar, Outlook, Notepad, OneNote, Microsoft Edge, and more.
Windows 10 Pro
While Windows 10 Home is aimed at the wider consumer market, Windows 10 Pro takes that base package and adds a few premium features for business users, professionals, or general power users.
One of the biggest additions is the powerful BitLocker, which offers much more comprehensive encryption support over Windows 10 Home. Another notable security feature is the Windows Update for Business service, which is aimed at enterprise users and IT administrators. Then there is added security in the form of Device Guard and Secure Boot, both not found on the Home edition.
Windows 10 Pro also ups the virtualization options with Client Hyper-V, which allows users to create a virtualized sandbox for various projects or play around with a different OS.
Windows 10 Pro may be designed for professional or business users, but there’s plenty of hidden pearls for enthusiasts and power users to play around with—assuming they want to pay for it. More on that next.
Windows 10 Costs
For many Windows dwellers, the decision between versions may very well come down to price. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay around $130 – $139 for Windows 10 Home, via Amazon or directly from Microsoft. This is after Microsoft quietly raised the price in late 2018, tacking on an extra $20. However, there are generally sales to be found, and usually the USB version is a bit cheaper.
Buying into Windows 10 Pro costs quite a bit more. Microsoft will charge about $200, while places like Amazon will typically charge around $189. Again, buying the USB version over the PC download will net you a marginal savings, if that’s of interest.
If you’re looking to upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro, you can buy a license through the Microsoft store—that privilege currently costs $100.
Value and Conclusion
Ultimately, there’s no objectively wrong or right choice between Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro; it really boils down to how the end user intends to use the OS.
If you’re a casual user or no-frills PC gamer and aren’t interested in premium features, then it’s likely obvious what version you need—go with Windows 10 Home. You likely won’t find anything missing from the experience, while also saving a considerable amount of money.
If you count yourself among the proud PC enthusiast crowd, or are a Windows power user, then it’s certainly worth the extra money to invest in Windows 10 Pro. You don’t have to be a business owner or IT professional to find value in the more sophisticated features found in Window 10 Pro. Plus, Windows 10 Pro will continue to get more features over time, making it even more flexible.
Bottom line: Windows 10 Home will suffice for most, so don’t feel compelled to spend if you don’t see the value. That said, Windows 10 Pro is appealing if you can make use of its more advanced features.
Eric has built tons of computers, enjoy tuning and overclocking, and he is an ardent PC and gaming enthuthiast and he enjoys turning that passion into writing.