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Is Windows 10 Pro worth it?

Xbox One controller PC use
Xbox One controller PC use (Image credit: Windows Central)

Most consumers buying or building a Windows 10 PC will be coming across either the "Home" or "Pro" versions of the operating system. Many might not notice, nor care which they're on so long as it's Windows 10 and it does whatever they want it to do.

For some, however, Windows 10 Pro will be a must have, and if it doesn't come with the PC you buy you'll be looking to upgrade, at a cost.

So, is it worth it for you?

Windows 10 Pro

The first thing to consider is the price. Upgrading through Microsoft directly will cost $199.99, which isn't a small investment. For most average consumers, Windows 10 Home is everything you'll ever need and you shouldn't waste your money on a Pro upgrade.

Pro is marketed more towards the business crowd without being on the scale of a full enterprise rollout, or even for education in some instances. Some of the key features of Pro:

  • Join your Domain: You can connect to your business or school Domain or Azure Active Directory to use network files, servers, printers, and more.
  • Enhanced encryption: Get additional security with BitLocker to help protect your data with encryption and security management.
  • Remote log-in: Windows 10 enables you to log in with Remote Desktop to sign in and use your Pro PC while at home or on the road.
  • Virtual machines: Create and run virtual machines with Hyper-V so you can run more than one operating system at the same time on the same PC.
  • Your apps in the Store: Windows 10 lets you create your own private app section in the Windows Store for convenient access to company applications.

You can find out more at Microsoft, but those are the headline features. You also have support for things like Remote Desktop built into Windows 10 Pro, which is essential for using with Microsoft's own Remote Desktop application. Trusted boot and support for up to 2TB (yes, 2TB) of RAM are also built into Pro, compared to the 'paltry' 128GB supported by Home.

Ultimately the decision is yours to make, but if remote desktop functionality, for example, is all you want, there are ways to achieve this without spending 200 bucks. Home PCs and laptops are going to be fine on Windows 10 Home for most of the people, most of the time. However, if you're running a small business or perhaps plan to develop software, then Windows 10 Pro would be a wise investment.

See at Microsoft

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

42 Comments
  • what's the difference between Hyper-v, Virtual box, VMware?
  • not much, and less and less every year.
    Pretty much all VM solutions made by different vendors. Some are bare-metal hyperviors as opposed to being on top of a host OS... but that does not matter as much as it use to.
  • My layman's opinion: Hyper-V is good for virtualizing Windows Server OSes for business platforms and operations. Virtual Box is a free desktop operating system VM good for end user applications. VMware Workstation is a paid VM hypervisor good for desktop and server OSes, and has great hardware acceleration for playing early Windows games. Personally, I've had the most fun playing with VMware Workstation. Virtual Box has limitations, and Hyper-V didn't work well with Linux or with hardware accelerated applications like games.
  • Have you tried use RemoteFX hyperv's feature? Is used to accelerate graphics inside vms: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff817578(v=ws.10).aspx Hyper-v now supports Linux better, last versions of ubuntu, suse, centos and red hat has all paravirtualized drivers built-in. Only Debian and freeBSD still with poor Support: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn743675(v=ws.10).aspx Obs.: Sorry my bad english.
  • They are competing virtualization technologies. There are others too, but at the end of the day, it comes down to a combination of use-case, preference, and cost. There are many articles covering features of each in great detail. Best approach when starting is looking for features you need for your use case first to eliminate those that won't meet your needs. Feel free to hit me up offline if you have specific questions, as this topic can get very involved very quickly.
  • Being able to join Office 365 AzureAD is an awesome feature, especially for small business environments where you don't have an on premise server running anymore. I hope Microsoft elaborates on the integration features between Windows 10 and Office 365 AzureAD, where a user logs in with his Office 365 account and finds everyting set up, from his OneDrive, his Outlook Exchange account, Office apps, roaming of settings like browser favorites, etc.
  • if you have a domain setup between a server and a few machines and have some fileshares on that machine, is there anyway to connect the PCs to AzureAD but still have them capable of accessing the server through SMB? the server is currently running windows server 2003, but we're considering an upgrade to 2016.
  • Windows Server 2016 has features to sync AzureAD to your local AD on the server. It certainly isn't something that a small company without any IT staff could or should set up. I would advice to move all your files to SharePoint/OneDrive in the cloud and get rid of your server all together.
  • Yes it is worth it since you can skip/delay the forced updates that the home edition puts down your throat. It is so frustrating when you need to get some work done quickly but the computer restarts automatically to update which could take a long time depending on the update.
  • You also have Group Policy editor on Pro... You can trim down Windows updates even more. I have it set to Notify me only and notfiy me to download. So, if a update comes up when I am doing something and skip it for now... Also set no reboot with user logged on.
  • Yes!
  • I may be mistaken, but restart after updates is being scheduled for 3 o'clock in the morning. Why everybody feels the need to update directly is beyond me. Also, there are a couple of tools like ShutUp10.
  • They have active hours and they will be further expanding active hours. Honestly, updates don't take that long especially if you have a SSD, but I know not everyone does. I understand putting updates off and I'm guilty of it as well, but it's ultimately better to patch the computer. Plus when you put updates off for long enough, it does tell you when it will actually restart the computer to install. I get it can be annoying sometimes, but I personally don't think it's that big of a deal at the end of the day.
  • For a home user: - domain not needed. Homegroup and network sharing should be enough. - enterprise grade encryption not needed. In need there are open source encryption tools (VeraCrypt, KeePass, depending on needs). - remote log-in - TeamViewer. - virtual machines - VirtualBox. - apps in the Store - not needed. I see no need to buy a Pro license for a home user, especially when some technologies that might interest a typical user, can be replaced with free alternatives.
  • I was with you until you kind of contradict yourself: "For a home user... apps in the Store - not needed", what? For a 'Home' user, apps from the Store are much safer than x86 super spammed programs!
  • You might wanna read the article first. Apps in the store does not mean access to apps in the windows store. All versions of Windows 10 have that. It's your own private section that you can use to develop and "publish" apps too.
  • I agree for the most part, but deferring Windows Updates is a worthwhile Pro feature. I know many people that don't upgrade right away just in case there are issues.
  • Active hours are extended too! (18 hours v. 12) =D
  • TeamViewer is my favorite for maintenance but for those working in applications from home, Remote Desktop is a far better experience.
  • I guess you don't encrypt your phone (and data) as well then?
  • Simple answer, no its not worth it. I wish I could by Windows 10 Enterprise, thats worth it, but they dont sell it to individuals. 
  • I don't have the answer - but a Windows 10 pro license costs $199; Windows 10 Home is $119. do they charge $199 to upgrade Home to Pro or the difference in costs? if they charge full price, do I now have two licenses, one home and one pro? why is licensing so expensive. it would seem MS should sell the same windows for all desktop use. it would simplify their offerings and support and enterprises get deep discounts from listed prices so they wouldnt lost anything it would seem    
  • upgrade price is not as much... but still stupid expensive (~$50 I think?)
    Most people don't buy retail, they buy OEM copies of windows for $80 home or $130 pro... which is also too much, but at least less than $200
  • Upgrade from Home to Pro costs around 100 dollars. I needed that for Hyper-V.
  • I have like 7-8 WIndows 7 Ultimate licences so I got Win 10 pro on 3 of them.  I do need some domain resources so it's usefull for me at home. It all depends on the need but, if it was like a $10 difference, even RDP (that does work better than Teamviewer in a lot of cases), it's worth it but, $100+ more again, depends on your needs. Also, as I said above, Group policy editor comes with Pro, not home, so it's a lot easier to "TWEAK" WIndows 10 (including trimming down WIndows updates big time). On home, it's mostly registry settings for everything and can be a pain to hunt down if you dont know what your looking for.
  • Who ever down voted me is a cluless moron.... You really are just a fanboy who has no clue on how it all works....
  • glad i got both
  • With all of the rhetoric of there being 'One Windows' I am always annoyed about the difference between Home and Pro versions, and even more annoyed at the cost of Windows in general.
    There should be a consumer version of Windows that is essentially what we know as 'pro' today with a normal MAK key that is tied to the hardware, and then there should be an enterprise version with KMS keys for doing stuff like network deployments. That should be it, and the only difference between the two should be how it is licensed and deployed. And the price! The price is insane! Does MS not see what is happening? When I was a kid I could not afford Windows, so I did what every kid in the '90s did and pirated it, or got a free win95 key from a forum on the internet. There was even one point where I would just let the OS expire after 90 days and reinstall the OS every time because I had far more time than money.
    But then I grew up and managed a refurbishing company where we purchased and installed windows on a few hundred machines per month. Now I am in charge of a school network where I manage what is largely a Windows network. And how am I able to do this? Because I had access to 'free' copies of the OS when I was a kid cutting my teeth on technology. It is what I grew up knowing, so it is what I am the most comfortable deploying. Kids today don't have access to free copies of Windows. Kids today are learning how to build hackintoshes or linux boxes because they are free and easy to build. When this gen of kids grows up and manages networks in 10-20 years they wont care about deploying Windows on the corporate network, because they won't know how to support it. they will deploy what they know (linux and OSX), or something that is stupid easy to manage (like Chrome OS). By not having a free or affordable version available now, they are loosing the enterprise market tomorrow. And the problem is much bigger than that. It is not Windows that is getting it's name damaged this way. It is Microsoft itself. I grew up on MS products, so I use Groove, and Office365, and the Windows Store, and Asure, and am dipping my toes into the windows game store (though GFW still prevents me from going all-in). But if you don't grow up in the MS world, then you don't care about the MS services and products. Plus, Windows does not cost $80-200 for anyone except for those poor kids who want to tinker with computers! Refurbishers pay just a few dollars for a copy of Windows. PC manufacturers pay $0-60 depending on volume and unit price. Businesses pay $20-60 through their VLAs. Students at large universities pay some $5-20. There is pretty much nobody who pays the OEM or Retail price for the OS, so lowering the price to a much more sane $40-50 is not going to hurt their bottom line at all. I love MS... but the idea that we still have a home and pro version, much less the public cost of either, is going to be a large part of their undoing. They always talk about simplifying their licencing and pricing... but it is never going to happen.
  • What do you expect? They are software company first not hardware company first (Apple) or marketing company first (Google). Software are their bread and butter.
  • Being able to defer Windows Updates is also a nice Pro feature.
  • It's sort of like ransomware. Force something on the user that they don't want, then make them pay to make it stop.
  • Um, no. Updating a computer is not a bad thing. I've had to "fix" countless machines that just needed updates installed. Everyone should have the defer ability, but the "active hours" should prevent the computer from restarting while you're using it.
  • The answer is simple, if you have Windows 10 Pro at work, then you don't need Windows 10 Pro at home, but you need Windows 10 Home at home to connect to your Windows 10 Pro at work to be secure.  LogMeIn and other solutions are good if you work for a small company, but Fortune 500 companies are not going to use that software.
  • Sounds like a lot of overkill for most common users, then again I used XP pro and didn't use half the features then.
  • Most home users don't need those Pro features.   However, if you run a small business at home, you may want consider it.
  • As a Windows 10 developer, I need Hyper-V to use emulators in Visual Studio...
  • It's worth it just for RDP server (and no, there is nothing similar in performance with RDP, not even teamviewer), group policy editor. Also for Hyper-V. Contrary to other comments here, Hyper-V it is the best option for virtualizing Linux (servers with no GUI) under windows. VMWare and Vritualbox are just toys, do not support VT-d, good luck pulling 1000 Mbps through a virtual NIC. A type 1 hypervisor (Hyper-v, ESXi, Xen, KVM) is needed for anything more serious than just checking how a random OS looks.
  • I use Pro versions for all my machines since I have a domain and need to remote into them from time to time.
  • Most of use cases don't require Pro, but I it for Hyper-V to run Docker containers (seems faster™ than Virtual box, however can't test IE9) and Remote desktop. So for me PRO is required edition.
  • I prefer the Pro only because of Remote desktop.
    Yes I know about TeamViewer and I use it to access PCs running the Home version. But if i can I rather have the functionality built into the OS. However, I wouldn't be paying extra just for it. If you're building a PC from scratch, go with the Home version.
  • I'm not following. You can remote desktop using Window 10 Home, there's an Windows store app as well as the "desktop app" Remote desktop connection.
  • Always too many SKUs. Make one version and adjust the price.