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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 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.
- 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.
- 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 4 CPUs; up to 256 cores; up to 6 TB RAM; the ReFS file system; Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM); and remote direct memory access (RDMA).
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. 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.
- Windows 10 Enterprise provides all the features of Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, with additional features to assist with IT-based organizations. Windows 10 Enterprise is configurable on two servicing channels, Semi-Annual Channel and Windows Insider Program.
- Enterprise LTSC
- Enterprise LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel) 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. Some features, including the Microsoft Store and bundled apps, are not included in this edition. This edition was first released as Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB (Long-Term Servicing Branch). 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).
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. 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, the installation of software (both Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and Windows API apps) is only possible through the Microsoft Store, and built-in and Microsoft Store-obtained command line programs or shells cannot be run in this mode. System settings are locked to allow only Microsoft Edge as the default web browser with Bing as its search engine. 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. 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 an alternative to ChromeOS.
These editions are licensed to OEMs only, and are primarily obtained via the purchase of hardware that includes it:
- 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. IoT Core was discontinued on 10 November 2020, while IoT Core LTSC is supported up through 9 January 2029.
- A specific edition used by Microsoft's Surface Hub interactive whiteboard.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- IoT Mobile
- A binary equivalent of Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise licensed for IoT applications. Also known as IoT Mobile Enterprise.
- 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.
- 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. The platform was described as a more direct competitor to ChromeOS. On May 4, 2020, Microsoft announced that Windows 10X would first be used on single-screen devices, and that they would "continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market". 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. 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. Several design changes in 10X, notably the centered taskbar and redesigned start menu, would be later introduced in Windows 11.
- 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 multimedia functionality, in compliance with antitrust rulings. According to details that Microsoft has published, any app that relies on Microsoft multimedia technologies experiences impaired functionality on these editions, unable to even play audio notification tones. Restoring the missing functionality to these editions entails installing the "Media Feature Pack", followed by Skype, Movies & TV, Windows Media Player, Xbox Game Bar, Windows Voice Recorder, and four codecs. 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.
- Home Single Language
- In some emerging markets, 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 Home or 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.
|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)|
|Features||Home Single Language||Home||Pro||Pro (Education)||Education||Pro for Workstations||Enterprise|
|Architecture||IA-32, x86-64, ARM64 (since 2018)|
|Has N or KN variants?||No||Yes|
|Maximum physical memory (RAM)||128 GB[a]||2 TB (2048 GB)[a]||6 TB (6144 GB)[a]|
|Maximum CPU sockets||1||2||4|
|Maximum CPU cores[b]||32 logical cores on IA-32|
1280 logical cores (20 groups of 64 logical processors) on x86-64
|Minimum telemetry level[c]||Required||Diagnostic data off||Required||Diagnostic data off|
|Family Safety and Parental Controls||Yes|
|Cortana[d]||Yes||Yes, disabled by default||Yes, since version 1703||Yes|
|Hardware device encryption||Yes|
|Multiple language pack support||No||Depends on OEM, region, and carrier[e]||Yes||Depends on OEM, region, and carrier[e]||Yes|
|Mobile device management||Yes|
|Side-loading of line of business apps||Yes|
|Can pause updates?||Yes, since version 1903||Yes|
|Microsoft Store suggestions||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||Cannot create, since version 1709||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|
|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|
|Windows Information Protection||No||Yes|
|Windows Update for Business||No||Yes|
|Remote Direct Memory Access||No||Yes|
|Credential Guard (Pass the hash mitigations)||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)||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|
|Long-term servicing option available (LTSC)||No||Yes|
|Windows To Go[g]||No||No, since version 2004|
|Features||Home Single Language||Home||Pro||Pro (Education)||Education||Pro for Workstations||Enterprise|
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.
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.
|Windows version and edition||Windows 10 edition|
|Windows 7 Starter SP1||Home|
|Windows 7 Home Basic SP1|
|Windows 7 Home Premium SP1|
|Windows 8.1 with Bing|
|Windows 7 Professional SP1||Pro|
|Windows 7 Ultimate SP1|
|Windows 8.1 Pro|
|Windows Phone 8.1||Mobile|
The following table summarizes possible transition paths (upgrade, downgrade, or migration) that can be taken, provided that proper licenses are purchased.
Windows RT does not appear in this table because it cannot be upgraded to Windows 10.
|Upgrade||Constitutes replacing the OS while preserving apps, their settings, and user data|
|Repair||Constitutes fixing a damaged OS by "upgrading" from one edition to the same|
|Downgrade||Similar to upgrade, but deliberately removes some features|
|Migration||Constitutes replacing the operating system, reinstalling the apps, restoring their settings via backup, and safeguarding user data against accidental deletion.|
|None||It is impossible to replace the OS with the intended target because of platform incompatibility|
Pro for Workstations
|Pro for Students||Downgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||None|
|Pro with Media Center||Downgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||None|
|Pro for Workstations||Downgrade||Downgrade||Repair||Upgrade||Upgrade||Upgrade||None|
Microsoft releases minor versions of Windows 10 through the free feature updates. Originally, Microsoft released feature updates semiannually. They contained new features as well as changes. With the release of Windows 11, however, Microsoft has changed the release schedule to annual. These feature updates do not contain any noticeable changes.
The pace at which a system receives feature updates depends on the "release channel" (originally, "release branch") from which the system downloads its updates.
Windows Insider is a beta testing program that allows access to pre-release builds of Windows 10, enabling 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."
- The "Fast" ring distributes new builds as they are released
- The "Slow" ring distributes new builds with a delay following their availability on the Fast ring
- The "Release Preview" ring distributes release candidate
- The "Skip Ahead" ring distributes builds of the next feature update while a current release is being finished
General Availability Channel
Since 2022, the General Availability Channel (GAC) distributes feature updates annually. To receive these updates, users must either request them manually or wait for their version of Windows 10 to go out of support.
Originally, however, Microsoft distributed feature updates through two distinct channels, the "Current Branch" (CB) an the "Current Branch for Business" (CBB).
- The "Current Branch" (CB) distributed all feature updates as they graduated from the Windows Insider program. Microsoft only supported the latest build. Windows would automatically install the latest feature update from CB. Users could defer the CB feature update for up to 365 days. Microsoft renamed CB to "Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)" in version 1709.
- The "Current Branch for Business" (CBB), which was not available in the Home edition, distributed feature updates with a four-month delay. 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. Microsoft renamed CBB to "Semi-Annual Channel" in version 1709.
Since version 1903, Microsoft dismantled the two-channel scheme in favor of a unified "Semi-Annual Channel" (SAC). Microsoft supports each SAC version of Windows for 30 months. Windows no longer installs new feature updates automatically before the expiry of the 30-months support period. With the release of Windows 11, Microsoft changed the release schedule to annual, and change the channel's name to "General Availability Channel" (GAC).
Long-Term Servicing Channel
LTSC exclusively distributes the "Enterprise LTSC", "IoT Core", and "IoT Enterprise LTSC" editions of Windows 10. Microsoft releases a new minor version of these editions every 2–3 years. LTSC builds adhere to Microsoft's traditional support policy which was in effect before Windows 10, including:
- Five years of mainstream support
- Critical and security updates for ten years after their release
- No feature updates from Windows Update
Microsoft discourages the use of LTSC editions outside of "special-purpose devices" that perform a fixed function and thus do not require new user experience features. As a result, these editions do not come with Microsoft Store, most Cortana features, and most bundled apps. LTSC was originally called the "Long-Term Servicing Branch" (LTSB) until 2016.
- Windows Server 2016, based on Windows 10 version 1607
- Windows Server 2019, based on Windows 10 version 1809
- Xbox system software, an operating system now based on the Windows 10 core, designed to run on consoles
- Windows 10 version history
- 32-bit architectures like IA-32 and ARM32 have a memory addressing limitation of four gigabytes. In practice, less than 4 GB of memory is addressable as the 4 GB space also includes the memory mapped peripherals.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cortana is available only in certain markets. Experience may vary by region and device.
- This feature was missing from Windows 10 version 1803, but not the prior or next versions.
- Windows Hello requires specialized hardware, such as a fingerprint reader, illuminated IR sensor or other biometric sensor.
- On Windows 10 Pro, a Control Panel applet corresponding to this feature appears, but a Windows 10 Enterprise or Education image is still needed.
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How can Windows To Go be deployed in an organization? [~snip~] A Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education image
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