Windows 10 editions
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Windows 10 has twelve editions (excluding the four "N" editions), all with varying feature sets, use cases, or intended devices. Certain editions are distributed only on devices directly from a device manufacturer, 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 smartphones (Windows 10 Mobile) and IoT devices.
Baseline editions are the only editions available as standalone purchases in the retail outlets.
- Windows 10 Home is designed for use in PCs, tablets and 2-in-1 PCs. It includes all consumer-directed features.
- Windows 10 Pro adds additional features that are oriented towards business environments and power users. It is functionally equivalent to Windows 8.1 Pro.
Windows 10 Pro's features are a superset of Windows 10 Home's features, introducing a number of features designed for power users. Features exclusive to Windows 10 Pro include Domain Join, Group Policy Management, Bitlocker, Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE), Assigned Access, Remote Desktop, Client Hyper-V, etc. 
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 Enterprise provides all the features of Windows 10 Pro, with additional features to assist with IT-based organizations, and is functionally equivalent to Windows 8.1 Enterprise. Windows 10 Enterprise is configurable on three branches, Semi-Annual Channel, Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted), and Windows Insider.
- Windows 10 Education is distributed through Academic Volume Licensing. Initially, it was reported to have the same feature set as Windows 10 Enterprise. As of version 1709, however, this edition has less 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 features a "Set Up School PCs" app that allows provisioning of settings using a USB flash drive, and does not include Cortana, Windows Store suggestions or Windows Spotlight.
- Enterprise LTSB
- Enterprise LTSB is a long-term support version of Windows 10 Enterprise released every 2 to 3 years. They are supported with security updates for 10 years after their release, and intentionally receive no feature updates. Some features, including the Windows Store and bundled apps, are not included in this edition. The 2019 release of this edition is expected to be called Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC.
- Mobile Enterprise
- Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise provides all the features in Windows 10 Mobile, with additional features to assist with IT-based organizations, in a manner similar to Windows 10 Enterprise, but optimized for mobile devices.
- Windows 10 Mobile is designed for smartphones and small tablets. It includes all basic consumer features, including Continuum capability. It is the de facto successor of Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows RT.
- Designed specifically for use in small footprint, low-cost devices and IoT scenarios. It is a rebranded version of Microsoft's earlier embedded operating systems, Windows Embedded. Three editions are already announced: IoT Core, IoT Enterprise, and IoT Mobile Enterprise.
- Windows 10 S 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. Windows 10 S only allows the installation of software (both Universal Windows Platform and Windows API apps) from Windows Store, although command line programs or shells (even from Windows Store) are not allowed. System settings are locked to only allow Microsoft Edge as the default web browser with Bing as its search engine. The operating system may be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for a fee, to enable unrestricted software installation. Microsoft also provides means of downgrading back to the S edition. All Windows 10 S devices will 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.
On 10 August 2017, Microsoft announced a Pro for Workstations edition to be made available in September, along with the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10. This edition is designed for high-end hardware for intensive computing tasks and supports Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors, up to 4 CPUs, up to 6TB RAM, the ReFS file system, Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM) and remote direct memory access (RDMA). The announcement included no licensing details.
As with previous versions of Windows since 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.
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.
In May 2017, it was reported that Microsoft had, as part of its partnership with China Electronics Technology Group, created a specially-modified version of Windows 10 Enterprise designed for use within branches of the Chinese government. This version 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, with [update]||Feature is present in the given edition after installing a certain update|
|No||Feature is absent from the given edition|
|[Explanation]||Feature is partly present in the given edition|
|[Explanation] with [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)|
|Volume licensing||Volume licensing|
|N Edition Available||Yes||Yes||Yes||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
|Minimum telemetry level[a]||Basic||Basic||Security||Security|
|Cortana[b]||Yes||Yes||Yes, with 1703||Yes|
|Hardware device encryption||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Multiple language pack support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile device management||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Side-loading of line of business apps||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Remote Desktop||Client only||Client and host||Client and host||Client and host|
|Remote App||Client only||Client only||Client and host||Client and host|
|ReFS support||Cannot create,
|Windows Subsystem for Linux||64-bit SKUs only||64-bit SKUs only||64-bit SKUs only||64-bit SKUs only|
|Hyper-V||No||64-bit SKUs only||64-bit SKUs only||64-bit SKUs only|
|Assigned Access 8.1||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Can switch to CBB (defer updates)?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Joining a domain and Group Policy management||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Enterprise data protection||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE)||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Joining a Microsoft Azure Active Directory||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Information Protection||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Update for Business||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Credential Guard (Pass the hash mitigations)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Start screen control with Group Policy||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|User experience control and lockdown||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Windows To Go[d]||No||No||Yes||Yes|
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), Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge, so long as the upgrade takes 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||Home|
|Windows 7 Home Basic|
|Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Windows 7 Professional||Pro|
|Windows 7 Ultimate|
|Windows 8.1 with Bing||Home|
|Windows 8.1 Pro||Pro|
|Windows Phone 8.1||Mobile|
The following table summarizes possible upgrade paths that can be taken, provided that proper licenses are purchased.
|Yes||Full upgrade is possible, preserving apps, settings and data|
|No||Full upgrade is not possible|
|Downgrade||Full upgrade is possible but feature loss will occur|
New builds of Windows 10, known as feature updates, are, since 2017, released biannually in March and September of each year. Each feature update contains new features and other changes to the operating system. 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 can optionally use a branch that receives updates at a slower pace. These modes can 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.
- 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 three "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), and "Release Preview".
- Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)
- The Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted), previously known as Current Branch (CB), distributes all feature updates as they graduate from the Windows Insider branch. Only the latest build is officially supported by Microsoft; a 60-day grace period is provided for a newly-released build to be installed before the previous build ceases receiving patches. As of version 1703, additional settings are provided to pause or defer feature updates for a specified length of time, but they are not available on Windows 10 Home.
- Semi-Annual Channel
- The Semi-Annual Channel, previously known as Current Branch for Business (CBB), distributes feature updates on a four-month delay from their original release to the Semi-Annual Channel. This allows customers and vendors to evaluate and perform additional testing on new builds before broader deployments. Devices can be switched back to the Semi-Annual Channel at any time. The Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) is not available on Windows 10 Home. An 8-month grace period is provided for a newly-released build to be installed before the previous build ceases receiving patches.
- Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB)
- This branch is exclusively available for Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB edition and distributes snapshots of this edition that are updated every 2-3 years. LTSB 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 10 years after their release. Microsoft officially discourages the use of LTSB 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). According to a Microsoft announcement, this branch will be renamed Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) in 2019, to match the name changes mentioned above.
- Windows Server 2016, the sibling of Windows 10 designed for servers
- Xbox One system software, an operating system based on the Windows 10 core, designed to run on consoles
- There are four telemetry levels, in the order of magnitude: Security, basic, advanced, and full. The higher the level, the more information are sent to Microsoft.
- Cortana is available only in certain markets. Experience may vary by region and device.
- 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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