Microsoft will start rolling out Windows 10 on July 29th. In the weeks that follow, you’ll be able to update to Windows 10 for free if you’re using a computer that runs Windows 7 or later, buy a new PC with Windows 10 pre-installed, or buy a boxed (or downloadable) copy of Microsoft’s latest operating system for PCs.
Later this year Windows 10 for phones, Xbox game consoles and other devices will also launch. But the first versions of Windows 10 to hit the streets will be designed for desktop, notebook, and tablet PCs (or at least tablets with 8 inch or larger screens).
But there won’t just be one version of Windows 10 for PCs. There will be four: Windows 10 Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education.
2017 Update: Now that Windows 10 S is on the way, I’ve created a new chart showing the differences between Windows 10 S, Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions. You can also find the chart at the bottom of this article.
Microsoft had already provided a rough outline of the differences between these versions. Now that July 29th is fast approaching, the company is providing more details about what makes one version of Windows 10 different from another.
All four feature the new Windows Start Menu and Edge web browser, Cortana personal assistant software, support for new security features including facial and fingerprint recognition, virtual desktop support, and continuum mode for seamlessly transitioning from PC to tablet mode when you detach a keyboard from a tablet.
Things look a little different when you check out the business features. Windows 10 Home doesn’t support BitLocker encryption, Windows Remote Desktop, Group Policy Management, Enterprise Data Protection, or some other features that require Windows 10 Pro or higher.
Meanwhile Enterprise users get some features that aren’t available for Windows 10 Pro, including AppLocker, Windows To Go Creator, Credential Guard, and Device Guard.
For the most part Windows 10 Education is the same as Windows 10 Enterprise… it’s just meant for use in a school environment rather than a business.
One feature that’s only available to Windows 10 Enterprise uses is “Long Term Servicing Branch,” which basically means that enterprise customers can postpone Windows updates that provide new features for years, while continuing to receive security updates.
While upgrading to Windows 10 will net you some new features, you’ll also lose some things that were available in earlier versions of Windows. Native support for DVD playback is no longer supported, but you’ll be able to install third-party video players that can handle it. Windows Media Center isn’t available for Windows 10.
2017 Update: Here’s a chart showing some of the key features of Windows 10 S, Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions:
|Windows 10 S||Windows 10 Home||Windows 10 Pro||Windows 10 Enterprise||Windows 10 for Education|
|Non-Windows Store apps||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Windows Store apps||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Change default browser/search||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Windows Store for business||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Windows Update for Business||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Bitlocker disk encryption||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Shared PC configuration||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Domain Join on premise||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Azure AD domain join||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Mobile Device Management||✓||limited||✓||✓||✓|
|Enterprise state roaming with Azure||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Windows Subystem for Linux||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Compatibility w/most PC peripherals||✓||✓||✓||✓|