Whether you’re looking at a new device or buying Windows yourself, it’s good to be mindful of the differences between Windows 10 Home and Pro. When neither appears to be indicated, assume you’re getting Windows 10 Home with your product.
The naming is perhaps a little unhelpful in that the “Home” edition could be more aptly titled “Windows 10 Standard”. It’s what you’ll find on most Windows devices priced under £1,000 and contains all of the core features of the operating system.
The Pro distribution targets professionals, power users and business customers. Most of the extras you’ll get are advanced features that won’t alter everyday usage. Chances are, unless you already know you’re going to need Pro, you should get along well without it. Not sure which version is best for you? Here's what's included in Pro, but not Home:
One of the most significant advantages of Pro is support for BitLocker device encryption. This encrypts your entire hard drive, making it much harder for others to gain access to your data. Home users can achieve something similar using third-party software. However, this will lack the operating system integration that helps to make BitLocker so performant and secure.
Pro supports Hyper-V, Microsoft’s virtualisation system for running virtual machines on your device. However, unless you’re already reliant on Hyper-V, you may be better off with a free alternative such as VirtualBox. This will work perfectly well on Windows 10 Home when using any modern processor.
Similarly to virtualisation, Windows Sandbox, lets you spin up an isolated desktop which is wiped when you close the program. It’s not a full virtualisation solution, instead running atop your current Windows installation. Sandbox is a Pro-only feature but can be replicated using a free virtualisation software, like VirtualBox.
Business and developer features
Most of the remaining differences focus on enterprise security, networking and development. These are unlikely to sway a home user interested in productivity and multimedia.
Windows 10 Pro can join a domain, enable Group Policy rules and be remotely connected to. It also supports Azure Active Directory, Kiosk Mode, Mobile Device Management and special “business” versions of the Microsoft Store and Windows Update.
Unless you know you’ll need any of these, there’s no reason to choose Pro because of them. Pro’s features aren’t as exciting as the name may suggest. For most home users, office workers and gamers, Home should be perfectly adequate.
A final difference is of course the cost, with Home retailing at $119 and Pro at $199. That’s an $80 difference when buying Windows yourself. Devices purchased with Windows don’t generally give you the cost of version so you’ll generally up with Home on consumer-oriented products and Pro on high-end and premium devices.