The best choice for you

Windows 10 Pro vs. Home: Which you should buy?

Are you building a PC for home or gaming and don't know if Windows 10 Home or Pro is the right for you? In this guide, we'll help you to understand the differences and pick the right edition.

Windows 10 Pro and Home desktop

What’s the difference between Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Home? Which one you should you get? They are both the same advanced and secure operating system, but it comes down to the set of features and price. The best edition for you will depend on your goals, but usually, if you to need use Office and similar applications, or you’re looking to build a PC for gaming, then Windows 10 Home is the best choice for you.

On the other hand, if you need to connect the device to a corporate network, change advanced system settings, and access features like Remote Desktop or Hyper-V for virtualization, then Windows 10 Pro is the choice for you.

Whether you choose Windows 10 Home or Pro, you’re getting the same operating system, which Microsoft supports with the same monthly and feature updates every year. The only different are the unlocked features in each edition, and the information below will help you understand the differences between the two editions and which one to pick.

Windows 10 Home

The Home edition of Windows 10 is for everyday users and gamers. This edition of the operating system includes all the features you need to browse the internet, check emails, stream media, and play games even in 4K.

Windows 10 Home also comes with robust built-in security, including Windows Security, which protects your device and data against virtually any kind of malware and hacker attacks using the Microsoft Defender Antivirus and Microsoft Defender Firewall.

Windows Hello is another feature that allows you to sign into the device using biometrics, including fingerprint, facial recognition, or passcode making your device more secure.

If you have young members in the family, Windows 10 Home connected with a Microsoft account can also offer powerful parental controls to set screen time and restrict access to apps and content online.

This edition of Windows 10 also includes a collection of built in apps that connect with your Microsoft account for a cross-device experience and make you more productive. Some examples include Microsoft Edge, Mail, Calendar, Photos, Calculator, and many others.

Of course, you can always install any app you need from the Microsoft Store or any other source, including your popular apps, such as Netflix, iTunes, Photoshop, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Steam, and more.

If you’re a gamer, Windows 10 Home includes the latest technologies and capabilities to play any game with the latest version of DirectX and support for 4K.

Although this version doesn’t come with BitLocker, if the device includes a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2 chip, you can enable the Device Encryption feature to add an extra layer of security to protect your data.

The Windows 10 Home license costs $139, and you can purchase it from the Microsoft Store.

If you’ll be using the device at home, Window 10 Home is for you. Windows 10 Pro primarily targeted for businesses that aren’t using the enterprise volume license. It does unlock more features, but they are not necessary for home users, but if you’re an advanced users you may still benefit from the Pro edition.

Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 Pro includes everything that is available for the Home edition, plus other features to connect the workstation to a corporate network, work remotely, enterprise level data protection, enhanced security, virtualization capabilities, and more.

Like the Home edition, Windows 10 Pro includes built-in security, including the Microsoft Defender Antivirus and Microsoft Defender Firewall to protect the device against malware and hackers. Windows Hello is also available to add biometric authentication using fingerprint, facial recognition, or passcode to login into Windows 10.

Connected with a Microsoft account the Pro edition of Windows 10 offers parental control and cross-device experience using the build-in apps. You can also install any app you need from the Microsoft Store or any other source, and you can use the operating system for gaming as it comes with support for DirectX and 4K gameplay.

Unlike the Home edition, Windows 10 Pro also includes the ability to connect to a corporate or school network using Active Directory or Azure Active Directory, and there are options to manage devices over the internet. If you need to set up a kiosk device, this edition has a feature to configure a device to use a single application. You can also access the Group Policy Editor to manage advanced system settings on the device. Also, if you need to access apps and files remotely, Windows 10 Pro comes with Remote Desktop to connect to your device remotely within the network or across the globe.

Although the Home edition comes with a device encryption feature, Windows 10 Pro comes with BitLocker that also offers full device encryption to protect your data from unauthorized access, but with extra management tools.

Windows 10 Pro also comes with Trusted Boot, which is a feature that works with Secure Boot to ensure that no malware tries to infect the device during boot. Hyper-V is another feature reserved for businesses, and it is a hypervisor that allows users to run virtual machines on top of Windows 10.

If you need to test untrusted applications without affecting your current installation, you can use Windows Sandbox. It works just like a virtual machine using Hyper-V, but it’s a tiny installation of Windows 10 enough to install and run untrusted classic applications isolated from the main installation.

Microsoft Defender Application Guard is another security feature with the same idea as Windows Sandbox, but it’s intended to create an isolated (virtualized) instance of Microsoft Edge to navigate untrusted websites.

Another difference between Windows 10 Home and Pro is the memory limit. Windows 10 Home supports a maximum of 128GB of memory, while Windows 10 Pro supports up to 2TB of memory.

The Windows 10 Pro license costs $199, and you can purchase it from the Microsoft Store.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstation

In addition, there’s also a variant of this edition known as Windows 10 Pro for Workstation, which is basically the same as the regular edition of Windows 10 Pro but with some extra server grade features.

For example, with this variant of the operating system, ReFS (Resilient File System) is the default file system instead of NTFS, adding fault-tolerance, optimization for large data volumes, and automatic error correction.

Microsoft has also added support for non-volatile memory modules (NVDIMM-N) for persistent memory, which means that writes and reads speeds will always be the fastest possible. Additionally, your files will still be there even after switching the computer off.

Using SMB Direct, Windows 10 is bringing support for Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA), which enables compatible network adapters to run at low latency without impacting the processor performance.

Finally, Windows 10 Pro for Workstation includes support for server processors (Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron), with up to four physical processors per device and up to 6TB of memory. In comparison, Windows 10 Pro is limited to two processors and up to 2TB of memory.

The Windows 10 Pro for Workstation license costs $309, and it’s available through the Microsoft Store.

Windows 10 Pro vs. Home features comparison

Here’s a complete list of features comparing Windows 10 Home vs. Windows 10 Pro vs. Windows 10 Pro for Workstation:

FeaturesWindows 10 HomeWindows 10 ProWindows 10 Pro for Workstation
Windows HelloYesYesYes
Device EncryptionYesYesYes
FirewallYesYesYes
Parental controlsYesYesYes
Secure bootYesYesYes
Microsoft Defender AntivirusYesYesYes
Digital pen & touchYesYesYes
Microsoft EdgeYesYesYes
Battery saver modeYesYesYes
Gaming supportYesYesYes
Accessibility YesYesYes
Windows Information ProtectionNoYesYes
BitLocker encryptionNoYes Yes
Mobile device managementNoYesYes
Group PolicyNoYesYes
Enterprise State Roaming with AzureNoYesYes
Microsoft Store for BusinessNoYesYes
Assigned AccessNoYesYes
Dynamic ProvisioningNoYesYes
Windows Update for BusinessNoYesYes
Kiosk mode setupNoYesYes
Active Directory supportNoYesYes
Azure Active Directory supportNoYesYes
Hyper-V for virtual machinesNoYesYes
Remote DesktopNoYesYes
Windows Hello for BusinessNoYesYes
Resilient File System (ReFS) NoNoYes
Persistent memoryNoNoYes
Faster file sharing with SMB DirectNo No Yes
Server-grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processorsNoNoYes
Four CPU supportNoNoYes
RAM up to 6TB supportNoNoYes
Quality monthly updatesYesYesYes
Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)NoYesYes
Windows Update for BusinessNoYesYes
Windows AutopilotNoYesYes

Windows 10 Pro vs. Home answers

Can I upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Pro? Yes, you can always install Windows 10 Home, and then if you need the advanced features, you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

How much does it cost to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro? If you’re already running Windows 10 Home, then you’ll need to pay $99 for the license to upgrade.

Do I need Windows 10 Pro if I only need virtualization? No, you can always use third-party virtualization tools, such as VirtualBox (free) or Vmware Workstation (paid) to use virtual machines. However, if you must use Hyper-V, then you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

Which is faster Windows 10 Home or Pro? They both offer the same level of performance, because they’re the same operating system. The only difference between them are their set of features.

Do I need Windows 10 Pro? No, if you’re a home user, Windows 10 Home includes all the features you need. Windows 10 Pro offers more features, but they are aimed for business and security. Also, a lot of times, you overcome the limitations using third-party tools.

Do I need Windows 10 Pro for gaming? No, if you’re planning to build a gaming PC, you don’t need Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 Home includes all the technologies to play any game, even in 4K resolution.

Windows 10 Pro vs. Home which one to buy

Usually, for most users, Windows 10 Home is the right choice, even when you’re planning to build a gaming PC. However, if you’re an advanced user, and you need the extra features, such as Remote Desktop, Hyper-V, BitLocker, Windows Sandbox, etc., and you want to have the ability to manage advanced settings through Group Policy, then Windows 10 Pro may be the edition you should buy.

If you work in a business environment, then Windows 10 Pro is the right choice, even if you think you won’t need the extra features, because you’ll end up needing them in the future.

We’re focusing this guide on the Home and Pro editions of Windows 10, but Microsoft includes other variants of the its desktop operating system, such as Windows 10 Enterprise, Education, IoT, Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), and others. However, these editions are organizations, you won’t get any additional benefits, and you won’t be able to get them through retail channels.