Back in the days of Windows XP, Microsoft produced two versions of Windows that you could buy. If you had the Home edition, you could buy the Pro edition, but you had to reinstall Windows to install it.
When they released Windows Vista however, they made it an extendible product. Windows Home basic/premium and you could pay for Pro or Ultimate and it would enable features in Windows Vista.
The same is true for Windows 10. You can upgrade the edition from the system and when you do so the features are enabled.
I’m not covering Windows 10 Mobile nor IoT as they cannot be installed on normal PCs.
There are different ways to get Windows 10. For Home users, you can buy an upgrade from your previous version, a retail version (which means you buy a box off a shelf in a shop) or an OEM version (supplied by the computer manufacturer or system builder) additionally for Windows 10 Pro, it is also available as a volume licence.
Buying a copy of Windows 10
Microsoft has made the process of installing Windows easy, you download a program called MediaCreationTool which you can either upgrade the computer you are downloading to, or create a USB or DVD to boot Windows from. You also need a licence.
Once you have created the USB or DVD copy, you can insert this into the computer you are installing Windows 10 on, and choose the appropriate install buttons.
Volume licencing is where big businesses need to have a block licence for all the devices in their company. By buying a volume licence block, the company gets a big discount.
Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Home is often the version most people reach for, and if upgrading from Windows Vista Home or 7 Home licence, this is the version you will install.
Whilst Windows 10 Home is good for a home user, including Family Safety and Parental Controls, it lacks the capabilities that a business user might need.
Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Pro drops support for Family Safety and Parental Control in favour of more business friendly features.
You can use Hyper-V to run virtual computers, especially if you have a program you need to run that doesn’t work on Windows 10, you can set up a Windows 7 machine or even a Windows XP machine.
Additionally, there are the required network extensions such as “domain” authentication and Remote Desktop, to enable remote working.
Another addition is Bitlocker encryption which allows files, folders and even drives to be encrypted.
Consider Windows 10 Home, you have a bunch connected together on a network and you want to manage users. If you have 5 employees, and you’ve added 5 accounts on 5 computers so each user can log into any of the computers, and then a staff member leaves and is replaced, you have to go to all 5 computers and maybe delete and add an account or rename it.
This is a minefield of all sorts of problems.
Thankfully in Window 10 Pro you can use Domain level authentication. You need a server to do this so you now have 6 computers. However, you manage users on the server. You can disable an account and that will affect all 5 computers, and you have the profiles stored on the server, so if one of the 5 breaks or needs replacing, or if the company grows to need more staff, then the users just log in via the Domain and everything is much easier.
Upgrading from Home to Pro
If you wish to upgrade your copy of Windows 10 Home to Pro, the cheapest way to do this is to buy a key from SCDKey online, they offer Windows keys for about a tenth of what Microsoft are charging. They buy in bulk so get amazing deals, just search for Windows.
Windows 10 Enterprise (and LTSC)
Windows 10 Enterprise aims for much bigger businesses. Enterprise is only available as a volume licence.
Windows 10 Enterprise looks the same as Windows 10 Home or Pro, but has more advanced features that are needed for Enterprise customers that are not necessarily needed for other users.
App-V, which provides virtualisation of apps, like Hyper-v provides virtualisation of computers means companies can install apps from a central server and deploy them on all the other computers easily.
Windows To Go
Windows To Go is a usb based version of Windows that works with Enterprise. It means a memory stick can be plugged into a computer, booted from and the entire Windows session runs from the memory stick. It means that a computer with no hard drive of its own can be used, and when the computer is shut down and the memory stick removed, no data is stored on that computer.
Long Term Support Channel or LTSC is a version of Windows 10 that has a 10 year lifespan. This means that it does not contain any new features that are present on Windows 10.
Notable Windows system apps removed: Microsoft Edge, Windows Store Client, Cortana
Notable Windows universal apps removed: Outlook Mail/Calendar, OneNote, Weather, News, Sports, Money, Photos, Camera, Music, Clock