Windows 10 editions

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Windows 10 has several editions, all with varying feature sets, use cases, or intended devices. Certain editions are distributed only on devices directly from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), while editions such as Enterprise and Education are only available through volume licensing channels. Microsoft also makes editions of Windows 10 available to device manufacturers for use on specific classes of devices, including IoT devices and previously marketed Windows 10 Mobile for smartphones.

Baseline editions[edit]

Baseline editions are the only editions available as standalone purchases in retail outlets. PCs often come pre-installed with one of these editions.

Windows 10 Home is designed for use in PCs, tablets and 2-in-1 PCs. It includes all features directed at consumers.[1][2][3]
Windows 10 Pro includes all features of Windows 10 Home, with additional capabilities that are oriented towards professionals and business environments, such as Active Directory, Remote Desktop, BitLocker, Hyper-V, and Windows Defender Device Guard.[1][2][3]
Pro for Workstations
Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is designed for high-end hardware for intensive computing tasks and supports Intel Xeon, AMD Opteron and the latest AMD Epyc processors; up to four CPUs; up to 6 TB RAM; the ReFS file system; Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM); and remote direct memory access (RDMA).[4][5][6]

Organizational editions[edit]

These editions add features to facilitate centralized control of many installations of the OS within an organization. The main avenue of acquiring them is a volume licensing contract with Microsoft.

Windows 10 Education is distributed through Academic Volume Licensing. It was based on Windows 10 Enterprise and initially reported to have the same feature set.[1][2][3] As of version 1709, however, this edition has fewer features. See § Comparison chart for details.
Pro Education
This edition was introduced in July 2016 for hardware partners on new devices purchased with the discounted K–12 academic license. It was based on the Pro edition of Windows 10 and contains mostly the same features as Windows 10 Pro with different options disabled by default, and adds options for setup and deployment in an education environment. It also features a "Set Up School PCs" app that allows provisioning of settings using a USB flash drive, and does not include Cortana, Microsoft Store suggestions, Windows Sandbox, or Windows Spotlight.[7][8][9]
Windows 10 Enterprise provides all the features of Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, with additional features to assist with IT-based organizations.[1][2][3] Windows 10 Enterprise is configurable on two servicing channels, Semi-Annual Channel and Windows Insider Program.[10]
Enterprise LTSC
Enterprise LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel) (formerly LTSB, Long-Term Servicing Branch) is a long-term support variant of Windows 10 Enterprise released every 2 to 3 years. Each release is supported with security updates for either 5 or 10 years after its release, and intentionally receive no feature updates.[11] Some features, including the Microsoft Store and bundled apps, are not included in this edition.[12][1][3] This edition was first released as Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB (Long-Term Servicing Branch).[13] There are currently 4 releases of LTSC: one in 2015 (version 1507), one in 2016 (version 1607), one in 2018 (labeled as 2019, version 1809), and one in 2021 (version 21H2).[14][15]

S mode[edit]

Since 2018, OEMs can ship Windows 10 Home and Pro in a feature-limited variation named S mode which evolved from the discontinued Windows 10 S. Organizations employing Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education can make use of S mode too.[16] S mode is a feature-limited edition of Windows 10 designed primarily for low-end devices in the education market. It has a faster initial setup and login process, and allows devices to be provisioned using a USB drive with the "Set Up School PCs" app.

With the exception of the Microsoft Teams desktop client which was made available for S mode in April 2019,[citation needed] the installation of software (both Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and Windows API apps) is only possible through the Microsoft Store, and command line programs or shells (even from Microsoft Store) are not allowed.[17][18][19][20] System settings are locked to allow only Microsoft Edge as the default web browser with Bing as its search engine.[21] The operating system may be switched out of S mode using the Microsoft Store for free. However, once S Mode is turned off, it cannot be re-enabled.[22][23] All Windows 10 devices in S mode include a free one-year subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition. Critics have compared the edition to Windows RT, and have considered it to be a competitor to Chrome OS.[22][24][25][26][27]

Device-specific editions[edit]

These editions are licensed to OEMs only, and are primarily obtained via the purchase of hardware that includes it:

A specific edition used by Microsoft's HoloLens mixed reality smartglasses.[28][29]
IoT Enterprise
A rebranded variant of Microsoft's earlier embedded operating systems, Windows Embedded. Designed specifically for use in small footprint, low-cost devices and IoT scenarios.[30][31] IoT Core was discontinued on October 11, 2020.[32][33]
A specific edition used by Microsoft's Surface Hub interactive whiteboard.[34]

Discontinued editions[edit]

The following editions of Windows 10 were discontinued (as of Windows 10 version 21H2). For both Mobile and Mobile Enterprise, Microsoft confirmed it was exiting the consumer mobile devices market, so no successor product is available.[35]

Windows 10 Mobile was designed for smartphones and small tablets. It included all basic consumer features, including Continuum capability. It was the de facto successor of Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows RT.[1][2]
Mobile Enterprise
Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise provided all of the features in Windows 10 Mobile, with additional features to assist IT-based organizations, in a manner similar to Windows 10 Enterprise, but optimized for mobile devices.[1][2]
IoT Mobile
A binary equivalent of Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise licensed for IoT applications. Also known as IoT Mobile Enterprise.[36][37]
Windows 10 S was an edition released in 2017 which ultimately evolved into the so-called S mode of Windows 10. In March 2018, Microsoft announced that it would be phasing out Windows 10 S, citing confusion among manufacturers and end-users.[38][39]

Originally announced for use on dual-screen devices such as the Surface Neo and other potential form factors, 10X featured a modified user interface designed around context specific interactions or "postures" on such devices, including a redesigned Start menu with no tiles, and use of container technology to run Win32 software.[40][41] The platform was described as a more direct competitor to Chrome OS.[42][43] On May 4, 2020, Microsoft announced that Windows 10X would first be used on single-screen devices, and that they will "continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market".[44] On May 18, 2021, Head of Windows Servicing and Delivery John Cable stated that Windows 10X had been cancelled, and that its foundational technologies would be leveraged for future Microsoft products.[45] Microsoft also added anti-theft protection to Windows 10X, just like how Apple's Activation Lock and anti-theft protection on Android devices and Chromebooks work.[46] Several design changes in 10X, notably the centered taskbar and redesigned start menu, would be later introduced in Windows 11.[47]

Regional variations[edit]

As with previous versions of Windows since Windows XP, all Windows 10 editions for PC hardware have "N" and "KN" variations in Europe and South Korea that exclude certain bundled multimedia functionality, including media players and related components, in order to comply with antitrust rulings. The "Media Feature Pack" can be installed to restore these features.[48] The variation cannot be changed without a clean install, and keys for one variation will not work on other variations.
Home with Bing
As with Windows 8.1, a reduced-price "Windows 10 with Bing" SKU is available to OEMs; it is subsidized by having Microsoft's Bing search engine set as default, which cannot be changed to a different search engine by OEMs. It is intended primarily for low-cost devices, and is otherwise identical to Windows 10 Home.[49]
Home Single Language
In some emerging markets,[citation needed] OEMs preinstall a variation of Windows 10 Home called Single Language without the ability to switch the display language. It is otherwise identical to Windows 10 Home. To change display language, the user will need to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.
China Government Edition
In May 2017, it was reported that Microsoft, as part of its partnership with China Electronics Technology Group, created a specially-modified variant of Windows 10 Enterprise ("G") designed for use within branches of the Chinese government. This variant is pre-configured to "remove features that are not needed by Chinese government employees", and allow the use of its internal encryption algorithms.[50][51]

Comparison chart[edit]

Item Meaning
Yes Feature is present in the given edition
Yes, since [update] Feature is present in the given edition after installing a certain update
No Feature is absent from the given edition
No, since [update] Feature is absent from the given edition after installing a certain update (It might have been fully or partly present prior to that update)
[Explanation] Feature is partly present in the given edition
[Explanation], since [update] Feature is partly present in the given edition, after installing a certain update (It might have been fully present prior to that update, or not present at all)
Comparison of Windows 10 editions[52][53][54][55]
Features Home Single Language Home Pro Pro (Education) Education Pro for Workstations Enterprise
Architecture IA-32, x86-64
Availability OEM licensing OEM,
Volume licensing
Volume Licensing
Volume licensing OEM,
Volume licensing
Volume licensing
Has N or KN variants? No Yes
Maximum physical memory (RAM) 4 GB on IA-32
128 GB on x86-64
4 GB on IA-32
2 TB (2048 GB) on x86-64
4 GB on IA-32
6 TB (6144 GB) on x86-64
Maximum CPU sockets[56][57] 1 2 4
Maximum CPU cores[a] 32 logical cores on IA-32
1280 logical cores (20 groups of 64 logical processors) on x86-64
Minimum telemetry level[b][61] Required Diagnostic data off Required Diagnostic data off
Continuum [62] Yes
Family Safety and Parental Controls Yes[63]
Cortana[c] Yes Yes, disabled by default Yes, since version 1703 Yes
Hardware device encryption Yes
Microsoft Edge Yes
Multiple language pack support No Depends on OEM, region, and carrier (if Windows is preloaded), since version 1809 after being temporarily dropped in 1803 Yes Depends on OEM, region, and carrier (if Windows is preloaded), since version 1809 after being temporarily dropped in 1803 Yes
Mobile device management Yes
Side-loading of line of business apps Yes
Virtual desktops Yes
Windows Hello[d] Yes
Can pause updates? Yes, since version 1903 Yes
Windows Spotlight Yes
Microsoft Store suggestions[8][9] Yes Yes, disabled by default Yes
Remote Desktop Client only Client and host
Remote App Client only Client and host Client only Client and host
ReFS support[64][65] Cannot create, since version 1709[66] Yes
Windows Subsystem for Linux 64-bit SKUs only 64-bit SKUs only since version 1607
Windows Sandbox No 64-bit only
Hyper-V No 64-bit SKUs only
Assigned Access 8.1 No Yes
BitLocker No Yes
Business Store No Yes
Conditional Access No Yes
Device Guard No Yes
Encrypting File System No Yes
Enterprise data protection No Yes
Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE) No Yes
Joining a domain and Group Policy management No Yes
Joining a Microsoft Azure Active Directory No Yes
Private catalog No Yes
Windows Analytics No Yes
Windows Information Protection No Yes
Windows Update for Business No Yes
NVDIMM support No[67] Yes
Remote Direct Memory Access No[68] Yes
AppLocker No Yes No Yes
BranchCache No Yes No Yes
Credential Guard (Pass the hash mitigations) No Yes No Yes
Microsoft App-V No Yes No Yes
Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) No Yes No Yes
Microsoft UE-V No Yes No Yes
Start screen control with Group Policy No Yes No Yes
User experience control and lockdown No Yes No Yes
Unified Write Filter (UWF) No Yes No Yes
DirectAccess[69] No Yes[70] No Yes
Long-term servicing option available (LTSC) No Yes
Windows To Go[e] No No, since version 2004
Features Home Single Language Home Pro Pro (Education) Education Pro for Workstations Enterprise

[1] The 4 GB limit for 32-bit editions is a limitation of the 32-bit addressing, not of Windows 10 itself. In practice, less than 4 GB of memory is addressable as the 4 GB space also includes the memory mapped peripherals.

Microsoft OEM licensing formula takes display size, RAM capacity and storage capacity into account. In mid-2015, devices with 4 GB RAM were expected to be $20 more expensive than devices with 2 GB RAM.[73]

Upgrade path[edit]

Free upgrade[edit]

At the time of launch, Microsoft deemed Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) and Windows 8.1 users eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge, so long as the upgrade took place within one year of Windows 10's initial release date. Windows RT and the respective Enterprise editions of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 were excluded from this offer.[74]

Windows 10 free upgrade matrix
Windows version and edition Windows 10 edition
Windows 7 Starter Home
Windows 7 Home Basic
Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows 8.1 with Bing
Windows 8.1
Windows 7 Professional Pro
Windows 7 Ultimate
Windows 8.1 Pro
Windows Phone 8.1 Mobile

Commercial upgrade[edit]

The following table summarizes possible upgrade paths that can be taken, provided that proper licenses are purchased.
There is no upgrade path that can allow Windows RT 8.1 devices to install Windows 10.

Item Meaning
Upgrade Upgrade is possible, preserving apps, settings and data
Clean Upgrade is possible, but all apps, settings and data are lost.
Downgrade Upgrade is possible, but some features are lost.
Upgrade is impossible under any circumstances.
Same Edition The Windows edition and the Upgrade target are the same.
Supported upgrade targets[75]
Upgrade target
10 Home
10 Pro
Windows 10
Pro for Workstations
Windows 10
Pro (Education)
Windows 10
Windows 10
Windows 10
Windows 7 Starter Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Clean
Home Basic Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Clean
Home Premium Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Clean
Professional Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade
Ultimate Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade
Enterprise Clean Clean Upgrade Clean Upgrade Upgrade
Windows 8.1 (Core) Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Clean
with Bing Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Clean
Pro Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade
Pro for Students Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade
Pro with Media Center Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade
Enterprise Clean Clean Clean Clean Upgrade Upgrade
Embedded Industry Clean Clean Clean Clean Clean Upgrade
Phone 8.1 Upgrade
Windows 10 Home Same Edition Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade
Pro Downgrade Same Edition Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade
Pro for Workstations Downgrade Downgrade Same Edition Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade
Pro Education Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Same Edition Clean Clean
Education Clean Clean Clean Clean Same Edition Upgrade
Enterprise Clean Clean Clean Clean Downgrade Same Edition
Mobile Same Edition

Release branches[edit]

New releases of Windows 10, called feature updates,[12] are released twice a year as a free update for existing Windows 10 users. Each feature update contains new features and other changes to the operating system.[76] The pace at which a system receives feature updates is dependent on the release branch from which the system downloads its updates. Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education could optionally use a branch, which is defunct since version 1903, that received updates at a slower pace. These modes could be managed through system settings, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Windows Update for Business, Group Policy or through mobile device management systems such as Microsoft Intune.[12]

Windows Insider
Windows Insider is a beta testing program that allows access to pre-release builds of Windows 10; it is designed to allow power users, developers, and vendors to test and provide feedback on future feature updates to Windows 10 as they are developed. Windows Insider itself consists of four "rings", "Fast" (which receives new builds as they are released), "Slow" (which receives new builds on a delay after it is deployed to Fast ring users), "Release Preview" (which receives early access to updates for the Current Branch), and formerly "Skip Ahead" (which receives super-early builds for the next feature update while a current release is being finished).
Current Branch
The Current Branch (CB) distributed all feature updates as they graduate from the Windows Insider branch. Microsoft only supported the latest build. A feature update can be deferred for up to 365 days, while a quality update can be deferred for up to 30 days before it will be listed as available in Windows Update. As of version 1703, additional settings were provided to pause checking of updates for up to 35 days, but they were not available on Windows 10 Home.[77][78][79][80] The branch was renamed to Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) beginning with version 1709 before being merged to the Semi-Annual Channel since version 1903.
Current Branch for Business
The Current Branch for Business (CBB) distributed feature updates on a four-month delay from their original release to the Current Branch for Business, till version 1809. This allowed customers and vendors to evaluate and perform additional testing on new builds before broader deployments. Devices could be switched back to the Current Branch at any time. Before version 1903, the branch was not available on Windows 10 Home.[12][81] This branch was renamed to Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) from version 1703 to version 21H1. It was later renamed again to General Availability Channel (GAC) since version 21H2.
Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)
This servicing option is exclusively available for Windows 10 Enterprise, IoT Core, and IoT Enterprise LTSC editions. Distribution snapshots of these editions are updated every 2-3 years. LTSC builds adhere to Microsoft's traditional support policy which was in effect before Windows 10: They are not updated with new features, and are supported with critical updates for either 5 or 10 years after their release. Microsoft officially discourages the use of LTSC outside of "special-purpose devices" that perform a fixed function and thus do not require new user experience features. As a result, it excludes Windows Store, most Cortana functionality, and most bundled apps (including Microsoft Edge).[12][1][3] According to a Microsoft announcement, this servicing option was renamed from Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) in 2016 to Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) in 2018, to match the name changes mentioned above.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Windows 10 utilises processor groups on x86-64 to manage processor affinity and scheduling. The Windows 10 kernel has a hard-coded limit of 20 processor groups, and each processor group can contain up to 64 logical processors. A logical processor is either a physical or SMT core. Processor groups are allocated based on the NUMA topology of the system. One processor group cannot span multiple sockets or NUMA nodes. Processor groups are not available on IA-32; 32-bit builds instead use an older affinity mask implementation with a limit of 32 logical processors. The limit of 20 processor groups does not change between Windows 10 editions. There is no specific limit on the number of physical cores that can be used on Windows 10, unlike Windows Server where physical cores must be additionally licensed.[56][58][59][60]
  2. ^ There are three (previously four) telemetry levels, in the order of magnitude: Diagnostic data off (Security), Required (Basic), and Optional (Full). The higher the level, the more information that is sent to Microsoft. Previous Windows 10 versions had a level between Required and Optional, and the older names for the levels are shown in the parenthesis.
  3. ^ Cortana is available only in certain markets. Experience may vary by region and device.
  4. ^ Windows Hello requires specialized hardware, such as a fingerprint reader, illuminated IR sensor or other biometric sensor.
  5. ^ On Windows 10 Pro, a Control Panel applet corresponding to this feature appears, but a Windows 10 Enterprise or Education image is still needed.[71][72]


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