Teardown: Windows 10 Pro vs. Enterprise

Are you still one of the XP holdouts? You’re not alone. The 16-year-old operating system that Microsoft stopped supporting a year ago still maintains a market share of nearly 10 percent. Perhaps your organization is still running Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1. Again, you’re not alone. Those two operating systems have a combined market share of nearly 60 percent.

What this attests to is the fact that reliability is a key factor in customer decisions of operating systems and often overrides the need to upgrade to higher versions. Unlike what happened at the end of “Transformers II: The Revenge of the Fallen” when Jetfire and the Autobots realize Optimus Prime needs to upgrade using Jetfire’s parts, knowledge, and power to defeat The Fallen. Prime needed an upgrade, but sometimes you and your version of Windows may not, at least not immediaitely.

Which brings us to Windows 10. Microsoft’s newest OS has swiftly reached a market share of more than 25 percent within a mere couple of years of its launch. It clearly is the future.

So, if you’re among the majority of users who still haven’t upgraded to Windows 10, chances are you will — and shortly. For you OS-upgrade slackers, consider this: Migrating to Windows 10 from Window 7 or 8 is relatively simple and painless. (This is not the case if you are running XP, unfortunately.)

When it’s time to move to Windows 10, organizations have two realistic choices: Windows 10 Professional or Windows 10 Enterprise. Both versions are popular, and both have a lot of features in common in terms of productivity and user experience, security, and core features. So which should you choose? We have looked at this issue before,  but some questions may remain. Let’s take a deep dive and tear down your choices.

Windows 10 Professional

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit for Windows 10

Windows 10 Professional is an excellent solution for small businesses that are looking to upgrade their existing operating system platform to one with leading-edge features. The Professional version provides a number of features ranging from easy migration capability to increased security.

Deployment, upgradation, and migration are really easy and can be executed using the Windows 10 Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), or Assessment and Deployment Toolkit (ADK). These can be employed to create reference images through Windows Imaging or as a full deployment platform via a domain controller and server.

The productivity- and management-related features are also attractive with Windows 10 Professional. One of the most critical pieces of functionality is the Universal Windows app functionality, which allows for apps to be accessed from multiple device platforms.

Critical pieces of functionality including the Business Store, Group Policy Management, and Microsoft Azure Active Directory all run off a single login.

On the security side of things, Windows 10 Pro comes equipped with several new features including virtualization-based security, which helps to isolate specific parts of the OS from being modified by malware or viruses.

In addition, Microsoft still builds in the popular encryption application, BitLocker. BitLocker permits users to encrypt both removable storage devices and hard drives using several modes of authentication. Microsoft also includes Windows Hello, which employs biometric data along with a pin code to grant access to the OS and associated applications for local use.

There are several other security tools provided including passport for single sign on, Credential Duard, which protects user credentials and authentication broker credentials, Device Guard, which provides protection for scripts and applications, and enterprise data protection, which provides basic rights management and persistent file level encryption.

The key feature set of Windows 10 Professional is as follows for various categories:

  • Productivity and user experience:
    • Continuum for phones
    • Cortana
    • Windows Ink
    • Voice, touch, pen, and gesture
    • Start Menu and Live Tiles
    • Tablet mode
  • Management and deployment
    • Group policy
    • Mobile device management
    • Enterprise state roaming with Azure Active directory
    • Windows store
    • Assigned Access
    • Dynamic provisioning
    • Shared PC configuration
  • Security
    • Windows Hello
    • Windows Hello companion devices
    • Windows Information Protection
    • Device encryption
    • BitLocker
    • Trusted Boot
    • Windows Device Health Attestation service
  • Windows fundamentals
    • Domain Join
    • Azure Active Directory Domain Join, with single sign on capability for cloud-hosted apps
    • Enterprise mode Internet Explorer
    • Remote Desktop
    • Client Hyper-V

Windows 10 Enterprise

Virtualized Windows deployment architecture

Windows 10 Enterprise comes with all the features that are available with Windows 10 Professional and many more. It is targeted at medium and large businesses. It can only be distributed via Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Program and requires a base installation of Windows 10 Pro. Enterprise offers several additional value-added features.

One important feature is DirectAccess, which permits remote users to access internal networks over a VPN-like system that establishes a bidirectional Internet connection. Enterprise also includes AppLocker, which permits administrators to restrict app access on mobile devices. This feature is particularly useful for companies with regards to meeting their device management and IT infrastructure management requirements.

There are a couple of other enhanced management features aimed at helping management and deployment. While Managed User Experience permits you to manage all aspects related to connection settings for user accounts, Microsoft Application Virtualization manages functionality related to app virtualization and streaming. Microsoft User Environment Virtualization-related capability supports the migration of virtual devices using the existing OS settings.

The key features of Windows 10 Enterprise that are available in addition to the feature set available with Windows 10 Professional are as follows:

AppLocker functionality

  • Management and deployment
    • DirectAccess
    • AppLocker
    • Managed user experience
    • Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V)
    • Microsoft User Environment Virtualization (UE-V)
  • Security
    • Credential Guard
    • Device Guard
  • Windows fundamentals
    • Windows to Go
    • BranchCache

Which one to choose?

If you are running a small business, Windows 10 Professional will work fine for you. Both Professional and Enterprise are strong on all the basic features that are required for running a business as long as you do not run your business like Bobby Pellit did in “Horrible Bosses.” That is probably not going to work out too well for you!

These include key management and deployment-related features such as the management of group policies, mobile device management, enterprise roaming with active directory and dynamic provisioning. Core security-related features such as device encryption, BitLocker, and Trusted Boot are supported in both versions.

Windows 10 Enterprise scores higher than its counterpart with advanced features such as DirectAccess, AppLocker, Credential Guard, and Device Guard. Enterprise also allows you to implement application and user environment virtualization. If you are looking for your environment to have advanced features, you would be well advised to press the button for Windows 10 Enterprise. Sort of like Keanu Reeves chooses the right weapons in “John Wick: Chapter 2”!


Photo credit: Microsoft

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8 thoughts on “Teardown: Windows 10 Pro vs. Enterprise”

  1. I thought i was installing windows 10 pro on my new laptop but it got to windows 10 Enterprise *not buisness purpose but i just want to get a better system then home edition* If it has more better stuff then im happy with it.

    1. Benjamin Roussey

      Hey Skyler,

      It’s more than 2 years since I wrote this, and the research is even more dated.

      I really need to dig deep and probably do an update on this to help you understand how big (or small) the gap between the two products has become. Perhaps in the next 1-2 months. Have a nice weekend.

    2. I just had the same thing happen.. used a Windows 7 Pro key to upgrade my new laptop from Win10 Home to Pro and now its showing Enterprise. Seems odd to me and I may try another key and see what happens if I get any issues.

  2. Windows is strong for both pro and enterprise? What planet did you just fall off? I use widows but strong it isn’t in most things because its so damn insecure. Maybe its strong at breaking your system when it automatically updates itself but thats as far as it goes. If you wanted strong – go with Linux or Unix because Wintendo lacks the “strong” you’ve been raving about.

  3. I need to purchase a PC stick for my TV but it must be compatible with Windows Enterprise not just Windows Pro. Does anyone have any hardware recommendations?

  4. I work for a restaurant group that has been using Windows 10 Pro across the board. Our POS Provider has changed to a PC that is loaded with Windows 10 Enterprise. Enterprise only allows for a 12 hour “Active” window for the updates to occur outside of business hours. Pro gives me an 18 hour active window. Is there any way to force Enterprise to have an 18 hour active window? We all know that Windows updates can take a long time to complete, and having updates running at 5:30pm (or even a 6:30am) can wreak havoc on the dining room when the system is down.

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