What is Windows 11 Pro? Windows 11 Home vs Pro: Security? Windows 11 is the latest major release of Microsoft’s Windows NT operating system, released on October 5, 2021. It succeeded Windows 10 (2015) and is available for free for any Windows 10 devices that meet the new Windows 11 system requirements.
Windows 11 features major changes to the Windows shell influenced by the canceled Windows 10X, including a redesigned Start menu, the replacement of its “live tiles” with a separate “Widgets” panel on the taskbar, the ability to create tiled sets of windows that can be minimized and restored from the taskbar as a group, and new gaming technologies inherited from Xbox Series X and Series S such as Auto HDR and DirectStorage on compatible hardware.
Internet Explorer (IE) has been replaced by the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge as the default web browser, like its predecessor, Windows 10, and Microsoft Teams is integrated into the Windows shell. Microsoft also announced plans to allow more flexibility in software that can be distributed via the Microsoft Store and to support Android apps on Windows 11 (including a partnership with Amazon to make its app store available for the function).
What is Windows 11 Pro?
The Pro version of Windows 11 comes with all the features of the Home version, as well as some extras. These largely include security additions like Windows Information Protection, BitLocker device encryption, and Windows Update for Business. Windows 11 Pro also brings you support for Kiosk Mode and a range of Azure-related features, which will be handy for business users.
Besides this, Windows 11 Pro is also great for high-end desktops, with the OS allowing your system to now carry up to two CPUs, with a maximum of 128 cores. Windows 11 Pro can also handle a maximum of 2TB RAM, compared to 128GB on Windows 11 Home.
Windows 11 Home vs Pro: Setting up
With the initial release of Windows 11, the first major difference between the Home and Pro editions was that Windows 11 Home didn’t let you set up the PC with a local account, while Windows 11 Pro did. However, Microsoft has since changed this so that a Microsoft account is still required when setting up a Windows 11 Pro device for home use. You can forgo a Microsoft account when setting the device up for work or school use, or you can use a workaround to bypass a Microsoft account on both Home and Pro editions.
Another difference that will be noticeable for business users is that Windows 11 Home PCs can’t be joined to Active Directory. Active Directory solutions are necessary for managing business devices, such as configuring access to certain resources, deploying apps, etc. That also includes Windows 11 features like Group Policy. Those are all professional tools, so they don’t make sense for most Windows 11 Home users.
Windows 11 Home vs Pro: Virtualization and remote desktop
The next major difference between Home and Pro editions of Windows 11 is support for virtualization features in Windows. Windows 11 Home doesn’t support Hyper-V (officially, though you can enable it) or Windows Sandbox. Plus, while it can be used as a Remote Desktop client, it can’t be a host, so you can’t access a Windows 11 Home PC remotely using Microsoft Remote Desktop. However, you can use third-party tools like TeamViewer for similar purposes.
Meanwhile, Windows 11 Pro supports all of these features. Hyper-V is a virtualization tool built into Windows, which means you can create virtual machines with it. If you want to try a different operating system or use an older version of Windows for some reason, you can do it using Hyper-V. Virtual machines don’t make changes to your host PC, so you can do it all risk-free. Again, there are third-party apps, such as VMware Workstation Player, that let you do this on Home editions.
Windows Sandbox is an extension of this idea, but instead of running other operating systems, it just creates a clean copy of the OS you’re running. With Windows Sandbox, you can quickly install and try a potentially risky app and see if it’s dangerous before actually installing it on your machine. Windows Sandbox resets every time you open it, so it’s always a fresh start for testing.
Windows 11 Home vs Pro: Security
As business users often deal with especially sensitive information, there are also some extra security features in Windows 11 Pro. First, there’s support for BitLocker encryption. This feature encrypts data stored on your hard drive so no one else can access it. Even if your computer is stolen, your files are protected from users other than yourself.
Windows 11 Pro also comes with Windows Information Protection, or WIP. This is a data loss prevention tool, which can help prevent data from leaking from within a company. Using WIP policies, companies can prevent users from forwarding content outside of the company, for example. Since it’s built right into Windows, WIP offers a more hassle-free experience compared to third-party solutions. WIP can also separate personal and business data on a device, so if the PC is lost or stolen, business data can be deleted remotely without affecting personal data on it.
Windows 11 Pro for Workstations
While we’ve covered all the differences between Windows 11 Home and Pro, there is one additional SKU that you might see pop up, called Windows 11 Pro for Workstations. This takes the capabilities of WIndows 11 Pro even further, and it’s made for a much smaller subset of users.
Windows 11 Pro for Workstations has some additional benefits, starting with support for more CPUs (up to four) and RAM (up to 6TB), so it goes even further in terms of performance compared to the Pro edition. On top of that, this edition also includes the ReFS file system, offering additional resilience against data loss.
Another benefit is support for Remote Direct Memory Access, allowing you to access the memory on one computer from another without having to go through the CPU. This gives you even faster access to files to speed up your workloads.
These are the core differences in Windows 11 Home vs Pro editions. As we’ve mentioned, most of them revolve around features meant for business users. Some are designed to protect especially sensitive information, while others have to do with quickly setting up devices for users and managing them remotely. For the average person walking into a store, you’re probably going to be just fine with Windows 11 Home. The odds are if you need Windows 11 Pro, you already know you need it and why.
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