Windows 10 is out on July 29th and the big news is that it’s going to be free for Windows 7 and 8 users for a a year. There are six (yes, SIX) different versions of Windows 10 that will be available. So much for Microsoft simplifying Windows!
Six versions of Windows 10 sounds pretty confusing but you won’t have to worry about the business versions of the operating system (your IT department will worry about that). To help you decide which version of Windows 10 is for you, here are all the different versions and how they’re different.
Windows 10 Home
For most people, Windows 10 Home is the version to get. This version will include all the new features of Windows 10 like Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Continuum tablet mode, facial recognition, and the ability to run “universal apps” that you download from the Windows Store.
If you’ve been using Windows 8, expect a similar experience but with more polish and upgraded features. If you’re jumping from Windows 7, you’re in for quite a shock. Microsoft reworked the interface to be more intuitive for desktop users, creating a hybrid of the traditional Windows 7 Start Menu and the Windows 8 app launcher.
Users with 2-in-1 machines (laptops that can turn into tablets) can also use Windows 10 Home. Windows 10 will automatically switch from desktop to tablet mode depending on how you’re using your device.
Gamers are also going to want to upgrade to Windows 10 Home as it integrates with the Xbox One, allowing players to access Xbox One games from their Windows 10 laptop or desktop.
Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Pro is aimed at small businesses who want employees to bring their own device. Pro users will get all Windows 10 Home features of but also get powerful tools to help manage sensitive data and a group of devices. Windows 10 Pro gives small businesses access to Windows Update for Business, which means all the devices for your business will be automatically updated with the latest security patches.
Windows 10 Mobile (RIP Windows Phone)
Windows Phone is dead and will be rebranded as Windows 10 Mobile. The operating system will look and feel the same but with a lot of under-the-hood changes. All Windows 10 Mobile devices will come with a free version of Microsoft Office designed for touch.
One of the biggest announcements is Windows 10 Mobile will make it easy for developers to port Android and iOS apps to Windows 10 Mobile. If Microsoft can convince developers to port their apps, the company will fix the lack of apps that’s been plaguing its mobile operating system. However, this is a double edge sword as developers will be less likely to develop apps designed specifically for Windows 10 Mobile, leading to a subpar experience.
Editor’s note: The Windows 10 versions below will not be free upgrades.
Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise
This mobile version of Windows 10 will be for large companies who want to buy bulk licensing for its employees. This version will feature all the security and IT features large companies expect from a mobile operating system.
Windows 10 Enterprise
While Windows 10 Pro is more for small businesses, Windows 10 Enterprise is for medium to large sized organizations. Companies will be able to manage security, app deployment, and updates.
Windows 10 Education
No, this isn’t going to be a discounted version of Windows 10 for students and staff. Windows 10 Education will be for schools to deploy on their computers, featuring all the same abilities as Windows 10 Pro but with volume licensing.
Not as confusing as it looks
Yes there are six version of Windows 10 but most users will end up with Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Mobile. The main differentiators between the versions are for businesses managing a ton of devices.
Windows 10 Home will support desktop, tablets, and convertible devices, which is a good thing. Microsoft imagines Windows 10 will be the last numbered version of the operating system, turning it into a service rather than something you have to buy.