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.


Windows 10 Home vs. Pro

Do you need Windows Pro?

Windows 10 S event in 7 minutes

Hands on with Windows 10 S


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.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Thoroughmore said on May 6, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Schools really should embrace Linux and open source for students, teachers, costs parents less, students actually learn about computers, more jobs for Linux tech’s, it’s a win-win for the whole community, and most importantly less $$ for Microsoft, Apple, Google, Adobe, et al.

  2. Corky said on May 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    10S is a rather clever move by Microsoft IMO (from a business sense), what they’ve basically done is offer Windows 10 Pro for less than half the price it would cost to buy in the shops and still less than the Home edition.

    I imagine all Windows devices will come with Windows 10S in the future as not only does it cost OEM’s nothing (i assume) but also consumers can get the Pro version for $50 along with the all important Microsoft Windows store account linked to their CC details.

  3. Mike said on May 4, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    I have no problem with Windows requiring users to use Edge. I mean, you cannot change the default browser on iOS or ChromeOS. What I do have an issue with is requiring users to use Bing as the default search engine. That just seems dumb and desperate, especially since Google still pumps out better search requests than Bing does.

  4. Anon said on May 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Does the S stands for Spying, you still get that on Home and Pro.

    1. ilev said on May 4, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      I suspect spying after small children in classes is still baked into Window 10S.

      1. said on May 9, 2017 at 6:16 am

        I wouldn’t put it past them, considering they’re the next generation that needs to be marketed and exploited.

  5. Anon said on May 4, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Couple Questions:
    Can Windows 10 S be installed as a guest in a VM?
    Can The machine running Windows 10 S be dual booted to another OS?

    1. ilev said on May 4, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      “Can Windows 10 S be installed as a guest in a VM”

      No, you can’t buy Windows 10s, only pre-installed.

      “Can The machine running Windows 10 S be dual booted to another OS?”


  6. windows said on May 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    “Non-Windows Store applications”

    Customer: Why I can’t install this app?
    CS: Um, your Windows version does not support this.
    Customer: I need this app to work!
    CS: You can install it from Windows Store
    Customer: I can’t find this app on Windows Store!
    CS: You can upgrade your Windows version. It’s only $xx if you upgrade now!
    Customer: OMG! Thanks Microsoft! Now I can install this app!

    I just realized why it’s cheaper for S to upgrade to Pro than Home to Pro..?

    1. AnorKnee Merce said on May 4, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      @ windows

      It costs US$99 to upgrade a Retail Win 10 Home license to a Retail Win 10 Pro license. A Retail license can be transferred to another computer, eg by system builders and online gamers who often upgrade their computers or major hardware components.

      I think the costs of US$49 is to upgrade an OEM Win 10 S license to an OEM Win 10 Pro license. An OEM license cannot be transferred to another computer and receives tech support from the OEM and not from M$ = cheaper.

    2. jern said on May 4, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      Win10S for students – computer programming student

      Student: Why can’t I install a non-MS compiler? Why can’t I install program examples? Why doesn’t my computer run my programs?


      Is it possible MS is masochistic?

      1. jern said on May 5, 2017 at 4:40 pm

        Not a Joke…
        The new Microsoft Surface Laptop for Win10S is not being marketed as a thin client. It’s a stand-alone computer.

        Win10S is defined by MS as “a specific configuration of Windows 10 Pro that offers a familiar, productive Windows experience that’s streamlined for security and performance.” Win10S is not a thin client OS.

        The problem is that MS is pointing Win10S at students. MS says, “Windows 10 S was inspired by students and teachers and it’s the best Windows ever for schools.” That means we have to question how well it serves its purpose as a foundation for education.

        MS says, “Windows 10 S works exclusively with compatible apps from the Windows Store.” OK, how well does it work for students learning computer programming? A search for “programming” at the Microsoft Store returns only 4 items – only one of which might be helpful – Visual Studio Test Professional Subscription for $2169. Search “developer tools” apps and you will find almost nothing that would be of use to a programming student.

        Win10S is another of MS’s poorly considered products.

      2. windows said on May 5, 2017 at 6:41 am

        For programming with locked environment? Is that a joke? I haven’t researched about Windows S but I thought it’s just a thin client for people who just want to do internet browsing?

  7. Jimmy James said on May 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    “Default browser hardened to Microsoft Edge” – is that legal in the EU (I smell a $100million fine)?

    1. Tim said on May 4, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      @Jimmy James

      I doubt it as that ruling was at a time when nearly everyone going online was using Windows, so it was seen as using their dominant market position to prevent a competitive market place. Whereas today things are quite different and it’s Microsoft who are on their back foot.

      You can’t change the default browser on IOS either (also if you install a different browser from the Apple store, it will still use UIWebView and JavaScriptCore anyway) and Chrome OS is pretty much built around the Chrome browser and Google services.

      So I’m not sure why Windows 10 S is being singled out. If other browser vendors want to put their browsers in the Windows Store like they do with IOS for example, then they are free to do so.

      For me though, once the cheaper devices hit the market I see ‘Windows 10 S’ as a cheap way to get a Windows 10 Pro Signature PC…

    2. asdsa said on May 4, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Well ChromeOS manages just fine. So, I don’t see why not.

      1. said on May 9, 2017 at 6:14 am

        What @Jason said…

        Not to mention, ChromeOS doesn’t have near the marketshare Windoze has.

      2. Jason said on May 4, 2017 at 3:24 pm

        ChromeOS is a thin client that depends on internet apps from Google. It seems reasonable to integrate those apps with the Chrome browser.

        Windows is not a thin client. If Microsoft had to pay fines to the EU a decade ago, I don’t see why it couldn’t happen again in this decade.

  8. Johnny said on May 4, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    If any, Enterprise or Education editions (depending on whether you want cortana or not) are the only skus of windows 10 worth using!

  9. Yuliya said on May 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm


Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.