Windows 11: Home vs Pro
As a regular PC user, you may not be familiar with some of the advanced features that come with Windows 11 Pro. We're going to take a look at some of these features, including domain joining, group policy management and security, and explain why they might be important for your business or organisation.
By Drew Aspland, 17th April 2023
Windows 11: Home vs Pro
If you’re using a PC for work, it’s probably running Microsoft Windows (unless you’re in the art department with your expensive, flashy Apple Macs). The laptop you have for personal use is just fine running Windows 10 or 11 Home, but in a business environment it’s important to know which version is the best fit for you: Windows Home or Pro. The overlap between the two versions is pretty huge, but there are some key differences that may influence your decision. We’re going to look at the main differences, so you can make an informed decision when it comes time to upgrade Windows.
For this study we’ll be concentrating on Windows 11, but what follows below is, by-and-large, relevant to Windows 10 Home vs Pro, too.
The differences between Windows 11 Home & Pro.
Windows 11 Pro comes with all the features of Windows 11 Home, plus additional features designed for business use. Some of these features are geared towards greater security and control.
Domain joining, and Group Policy
One of the biggest differences between Windows 11 Home and Pro is the ability to join a work domain. You, as an end user, may never have to contemplate this issue, but it’s a big deal for IT departments and network administrators. If you’re running Windows 11 Home, some of your business resources will simply not work with your computer.
Domain joining is the process of connecting a computer to a centralised network (a domain). This network domain may be a physical one, such as the one in your head office, or it may be a cloud-hosted one, such as in Microsoft 365 or Azure Active Directory, that connects across the internet. Once a computer is joined to a domain, it can access network resources such as file shares, printers, and applications. Additionally, users who are members of the domain can log in to the computer using their domain credentials, which allows them to access their personal files and settings regardless of which computer they use.
Group policy allows IT administrators to control the behaviour of computers and users in a domain. It works by creating policies that define the settings and restrictions for a group of computers or users. Your IT department can use group policy to enforce security settings such as password complexity requirements, or to disable certain features such as your access to computer settings.
Group policy management is also useful for configuring settings that apply to specific departments or groups within an organisation. For example, your sales department may have different shared files, printers etc than the HR department.
Remote Desktop allows you (or someone else, like your IT department) to access your computer from another computer, tablet, or smartphone. This can be especially helpful if you need to work on your computer from a remote location, or if your network administrator wants to connect to your machine as part of maintenance or troubleshooting.
Remote Desktop connects to your computer over a local network, or the internet, allowing you to control it as if you were sitting in front of it. This means that you can access your desktop, files, folders, and applications just as you would if you were physically in front of your computer.
BitLocker is a built-in encryption feature in Windows 11 Pro that allows you to encrypt your entire hard drive, making it more difficult for anyone to access your files without your permission. Even if someone were to steal your computer, or even remove your hard disk, they wouldn’t be able to access your files without your encryption key.
BitLocker uses advanced encryption standards to protect your data, and it’s easy to use. Once you enable BitLocker on your computer, you can continue using your computer as you normally would, without any noticeable slowdowns or performance issues.
Hyper-V is a built-in virtualisation technology in Windows 11 Pro (and Windows Server editions) that allows you to create and run multiple virtual machines on a single physical computer.
Think of a virtual machine as a computer within a computer. With Hyper-V, you can create multiple virtual machines on your physical computer and run different operating systems, applications, and software on each one of them. This is particularly useful if you need to test software, run different versions of an operating system, or isolate different workloads.
Once you enable it, you can create virtual machines from scratch or import existing ones from other computers. You can also customise the virtual machines to meet your specific needs, including allocating resources such as CPU, memory, and storage.
One of the biggest benefits of Hyper-V is that it helps you save on hardware costs and reduce your energy footprint. Instead of having multiple physical computers to run different workloads, you can use one physical computer and create multiple virtual machines.
How much does Windows 11 Pro cost?
Windows 11 Home is cheaper than Windows 11 Pro. The retail price of Windows 11 Home is £119, while the price of Windows 11 Pro is £219. However, the cost of upgrading from Windows 11 Home to Windows 11 Pro is £99, which may be a more affordable option for some users (and can be done without having to reinstall Windows from scratch – the existing software is simply upgraded, much like a standard Windows Update).
However, it may be that you as an individual don’t need to worry about cost: many IT departments take advantage of Volume Licensing, another feature of Windows 11 Pro (and other Enterprise-level software). With volume licensing, organisations can purchase a single license key that can be used to activate multiple copies of Windows 11 Pro, eliminating the need to purchase individual licenses for each computer.
Should I buy Windows 11 Home or Pro?
If you’re a home user who primarily uses your computer for personal tasks like web browsing, emailing, and social media, then Windows 11 Home may be the more practical choice. It offers all the basic features you need for everyday computing, and it’s less expensive than Windows 11 Pro.
On the other hand, if you’re a business user or power user who needs advanced security features and the ability to join a domain, then Windows 11 Pro is the better option.
Ultimately, the decision between Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro comes down to your specific needs and priorities. Consider your use cases, budget, and desired features before deciding, and remember that you can always upgrade from Windows 11 Home to Windows 11 Pro if your needs change in the future.
Or if in doubt, consult your IT department. That could be us! Plan IT Support is your expert IT department in Southend-on-Sea, in Essex and in London. We offer services to small and medium-sized businesses across a range of industries.
Working from home? Call in the pros.