Confused by the various different versions of Windows 10? We help you choose the right one for you
How many Windows 10 Editions are there?
There have been many releases of Microsoft Windows over the years, but it’s rarely been as simple as simply upgrading to the newest release. More often than not there are also different versions to be considered, and Windows 10 is no exception.
Microsoft has named them ‘Editions’, and each one offers a different set of features. We’ve outlined them below so that you can be sure you’re choosing the right edition for you.
Windows 10 Home
Chances are that this will the be the edition best suited to you. Despite its name, it’s actually the standard version of Windows 10, and it's the one that comes pre-installed on most PCs sold to UK consumers.
if you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 when Microsoft was offering its latest OS as a free upgrade, there’s a high probability that you’re now on Windows 10 Home, too. The way the upgrade worked meant that users of Windows 7 or 8 Home editions were upgraded to the same edition of Windows 10.
How much does the licence for Windows 10 Home cost?
If you're buying your own copy of Windows 10 - perhaps if you're building a PC - this is also the most affordable version: it costs £119 from the Windows Store.
Windows 10 Home is designed with ease of use in mind, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in features: you get built-in security with Windows Defender, as well as the ability to use your face or fingerprint with Windows Hello to sign in to your computer, plus bundled software such as Microsoft Photos to manage your photo library.
Is Windows Defender good enough on its own to protect your PC? Read our expert assessment
Windows 10 S
This isn't so much a separate version of Windows 10 as a special mode of Windows 10, which you can turn off if you find its restrictions too onerous.
In S Mode, you can only install software from the Microsoft Store, and you can't install programs from the web. You also can't run commands from the command line, and the only browser you can use is Microsoft's own Edge browser.
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Those three restrictions aim to keep your computer more secure, and it will also help keep it running smoothly: if you haven't got lots of third-party software clogging up your system, it shouldn't slow down as much, and of course there's much less risk of inadvertently installing malware.
Read how to turn off Windows 10 S Mode
Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Pro offers all of the same features as the Home edition, but also adds tools used by business. However, it's also suitable for more advanced home users, as it adds tools such as BitLocker, which adds enhanced encryption options, as well as Remote Desktop, which lets you log in to your PC when you're away from your desk, and the ability to create and run virtual machines.
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Virtual machines run as sandboxes, and are in effect separate installations of Windows where you can install software without risking your primary installation of Windows.
Can I upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro?
If you're running Windows 10 Home it costs £119.99 to upgrade via the Windows Store app, which you can access via the Activation settings, or £219.99 via the Microsoft website if you're buying a standalone copy.
Windows 10 Enterprise
You’re unlikely to encounter Enterprise unless you use a PC from work. You can’t just buy a copy off the shelf.
Instead, a company buys a volume licence, which allows it to install the OS on a certain number of PCs. Enterprise includes most of Pro’s features along with some of its own, most of which focus on allowing IT administrators to manage aspects of employees’ PCs remotely.
Windows 10 Education
Again, you can't buy this edition yourself, and unless you're a student or you work at a school or university, you'll probably never come across this edition. It's a low-cost way for schools and universities to provide staff and students with Windows 10, and has similar features to Windows Pro, but some elements of the OS, such as the Microsoft Store, can be turned off by default.
This is a special version of Windows that's designed to run on low-powered smart devices such as touchscreen displays, and instead of booting to the Windows desktop, it is designed to boot to a default app instead. You can download it from Microsoft's developer site, and if you're feeling adventurous you can install it on a Raspberry Pi.
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