Windows 10 Home vs Pro vs S

Martin Brinkmann
May 4, 2017
Updated • May 22, 2018
Windows, Windows 10

Consumers have three core Windows 10 editions that they may run on their systems: Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, and the recently revealed Windows 10 S.

Before you make a purchase, be it a copy of Windows 10 directly, or a PC that runs Windows 10, you need to know about the differences between those editions to make an educated decision.

Do you need the extra functionality that Pro offers over Home, or are you fine with the extra limitations of Windows 10 S? Can you run all the programs that you ran in the past on all three editions?

The following guide provides you with the answers to that.

Windows 10 Home vs Pro vs S

onfiguration & features* Windows 10 S Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Pro
Non-Windows Store applications   X X
Domain Join on premise     X
Azure AD domain join X   X
Windows Store Apps X X X
Default browser hardened to Microsoft Edge X  Configurable Configurable
Windows Update for Business X   X
Windows Store for Business X   X
Mobile Device Management (MDM) X Limited X
Bitlocker X   X
Enterprise state roaming with Azure AD X   X
Shared PC Configuration X   X
Other Windows 10 S Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Pro
Microsoft Edge/Internet Explorer search default: Bing and designated regional search providers  X Configurable Configurable
Switch to Windows 10 Pro (through Windows Store) X X  

Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Professional were both released in 2015, while Windows 10 S is a new edition that Microsoft unveiled in 2017.

One of the main differentiators is price. Windows 10 Home is offered for $119.99, and Windows 10 Pro for $199.99 on the Microsoft Store. Retailers offer this for cheaper usually. If you check Amazon for instance, you will discover that Windows 10 Pro is offered for $139.99 and Windows 10 Home for $109.99.

You can get licenses even cheaper in a number of ways. It is for instance still possible to use a genuine Windows 7 or 8.1 license to upgrade to Windows 10. These licenses are available on the cheap on marketplaces like eBay.

It is unclear yet how expensive Windows 10 S will be. Microsoft revealed information on the surface Laptop technical specs sheet that customers may switch to Windows 10 Pro for free until the end of 2017.  The regular upgrade price appears to be $49 for an upgrade from Windows 10 S to Pro.

Non-Windows Store applications

Windows 10 Home and Pro users may install applications offered on the Windows Store, and also Win32 programs that they download from third-party websites.

The same is not true for Windows 10 S devices, as users on the operating system may only use the programs that the system ships with, and what is offered on the Windows Store.

This becomes only available when Windows 10 S is upgraded to Windows 10 Pro. Some of the advantages that Windows 10 S offers are lost in the process, and a downgrade at a later point in time is no longer possible.

Business Features

Things get interesting when it comes to business features. The situation is very clear when it comes to Windows 10 Home vs Pro. Home does not support business features such as Domain Join on premise, Azure AD domain join, Windows Store for Business, Windows Update for Business, Bitlocker, Enterprise State Roaming, or Shared PC Configuration.

It is interesting to note that most of these features, with the exception of  domain join on premise, are also supported by Windows 10 S. This means that Windows 10 S is better prepared for being run in business or education environments (the lack of Win32 program support on the other hand is a serious drawback).

  • Azure AD domain join -- Optimized for users who access cloud resources primarily, and admins who manage devices from the cloud using MDM.
  • Bitlocker -- Bitlocker is an encryption technology that users may use to encrypt entire hard drives. One of the advantages of Bitlocker is that it is integrated natively in Windows 10 versions that support it.
  • Domain Join on premise -- Domain Join adds a computer to the Active Directory domain. Computers that join get a unique ID, and administrators may set settings and policies.
  • Enterprise Roaming -- Azure Active Directory users may sync user settings and application settings data with the cloud, and all devices that run Windows 10 that they use for a faster and unified experience.
  • Shared PC Configuration -- Optimizes Windows 10 for shared use scenarios such as temporary customer use or "touchdown spaces" in an Enterprise.
  • Windows Store for Business -- The Microsoft Store for Business and Education is a special store that helps businesses and organizations find, acquire, distribute and manage apps.
  • Windows Update for Business --  Helps administrators keep Windows 10 devices of an organization up to date using Group Policy or MDM solutions such as Intune to configure and control settings and updates.

Windows 10 Home vs Pro vs S (old feature table)

Microsoft's list of the difference that it published during the launch of Windows 10 S is different from the comparison table that the company published when it launched Windows 10.

Windows 10 S will not support some of these features, Hyper-V or the Linux subsystem, but Microsoft has yet to publish information on some of the others.

It is for instance not clear whether Windows 10 S supports Remote Desktop or Trusted Boot, and how much RAM devices that ship with it can pack.

Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Pro Windows 10 S
Create and join a domain (work network) No Yes Join yes, create unknown
BitLocker No Yes Yes
Group policy management No Yes Yes
Remote Desktop No Yes unknown
Hyper-V No Yes No
Assigned Access No Yes unknown
Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer No Yes unknown
Windows Store for Business No Yes Yes
Trusted Boot No Yes unknown
Windows Update for Business No Yes Yes
Max supported RAM 128GB 2TB unknown

Windows 10 S: things to consider

Windows 10 S is a special version of Windows 10. With that come some advantages, like better battery life of devices, a reduced attack vector, a relatively cheap upgrade to Pro, free 1-year Office 365 subscription, and support for some of the business features mentioned above that Home users don't get access to, but also disadvantages:

  1. You may run into hardware issues, especially with older hardware. Since you cannot install drivers on Windows 10 S devices, hardware that requires drivers may not run at all, or only with limited functionality.
  2. The same is true in other areas. If you require support for a specific file type that is not supported by Windows 10 by default, or by an app available in the Store, then you cannot load files of that type at all.
  3. Since you cannot install Win32 programs, you cannot install third-party browsers, email programs, or any other software that is not available in the Windows Store. This means, that you are stuck with what is available by default, and on the Store.
  4. Microsoft Edge will be the default browser on Windows 10 S, even if you download another browser from the Store. Also, the default search provider -- read Bing -- cannot be changed.


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Windows 10 Home vs Pro vs S
Article Name
Windows 10 Home vs Pro vs S
A feature by feature comparison of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system editions Windows 10 Home vs Windows 10 Pro vs Windows 10 S.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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