Windows 10 Varieties Explained - Choosing the Best Fit for You

by [Published on 8 July 2015 / Last Updated on 8 July 2015]

It is understood that Microsoft will release several versions of Windows 10 later this year. In this article we consider the security features and various flavours for release. Looking at how one edition may differ from the next, as the characteristics and security feature offerings would help you determine which is the best suited to you and your organisations specific requirements.

Introduction

Windows 10 is due to be released later this year. Not only will Windows 10 be available to 190 countries, it will support 111 languages.

Those of us already using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1, keen to upgrade within the first year of the release, may also be entitled to attain the Windows 10 upgrade free of charge.

Windows has evolved significantly and quite quickly in recent months and years. Many of us have been taken aback at the news that windows 10 will be the last version to be released by Microsoft; no Windows 11 is to follow. Updates will, of course, be made but Windows 10 is here to stay. Windows 8 was a lot for many of us to get to grips with. Now with Windows 10 soon to follow, in not one but 7 varieties, some much-needed clarity may be required by many.

Windows 8 also donned a variety of versions but Windows 10 has been approached differently in that each edition addresses a particular purpose. The versions will comprise desktop and mobile versions (for home and business use), versions for the academic institutions and for the growing realm of the Internet of Things. The Continuum feature will also allow for fuss free interchanging between touch screen and PC-mode, addressing both hybrid devices and laptops.

The seven editions explained

If you are looking to evolve with Microsoft and the Windows OS it’s probably a good time to ensure that your device/s suit the minimum requirements necessary to support the new Windows 10 OS. The requirements differ for mobile devices and desktop application. For windows 10 to be supported for either application the following is needed:

Desktop:

  • Screen size (8 inches and above) however exceptions do exist
  • For 32-bit version (800 by 600 resolution or above, 1GB RAM, 16GB storage, physical buttons for power and volume adjustment)
  • For 64-bit version (800 by 600 resolution or above, 2GB RAM, 32GB Storage, physical buttons for power and volume adjustment)

Mobile Devices:

  • Screen size (3.0 to 7.99 inches)
  • For 32-bit version (512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, DirectX9 support, physical buttons for start, back and search function)

The several versions seem to closely follow and replace previous ones. The editions have been carefully designed to address the specific needs/requirements of the consumer, device, purpose and environment to ensure the necessary features are available (when required) and the redundant not. So it’s important to ensure your version fits your needs best.

 The seven versions of Windows 10 are as follows:

  1. Windows 10 Home
  2. Windows 10 Pro
  3. Windows 10 Enterprise
  4. Windows 10 Education
  5. Windows 10 Mobile
  6. Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise
  7. Windows 10 IoT

Windows 10 Edition

Target Audience

Differentiating   Characteristics

Windows 10 Home (replaces Windows 8 Consumer)

The home consumer

For desktop PC, Laptops and tablets and hybrid devices

This is the most basic of the versions but majority of the advertised features are included

Features include:

  • Cortana
  • Edge Browser (replace Internet Explorer)
  • Continuum capabilities
  • Integrated applications
  • Version allows consumer to play Xbox live on PC

Windows 10 Pro (replaces Windows 8.1 Pro)

 

 

 

For the small business and possibly the more tech savvy

 

Built on the home edition. The professional version offers the basic features and further useful business features:

  • Manage apps and data across devices
  • Data protection
  • Cloud technologies
  • Can opt to use Windows Update for Business Plan (to facilitate speedy routine   security and updates)
  • Peer-peer update sharing
  • Faster access to security updates

Windows 10 Enterprise (replaces Windows 8.1 Enterprise)

 

 

For the larger business

Has all the features of Windows 10 Pro and includes additional features useful for the larger enterprise and for improved IT handling

Features include:

  • Can opt to use Windows Update for Business Plan (As with Windows 10 Pro edition)
  • Enhanced security features
  • Features to protect against modern security threats
  • Large range of options for OS deployment
  • Comprehensive device and application management
  • Free security updates and innovation only available through volume licencing   customers

Windows 10 Education

 

 

For use within Education Environments (schools, colleges, universities)

Has all the features of Windows 10 Enterprise but designed differently for utilisation within education

Features include:

  • Allows further control over security features and management of them
  • Offers staff, admin, teachers and students need specific experience
  • Control allowed over installation of updates and management of them
  • Available through volume licensing

Windows 10 Mobile (replaces Windows Phone 8.1)

 

Home consumer

For smart phones and small tablets, includes basic consumer features

  • Runs universal Windows 10 applications and new office applications that have been   optimised for smaller touch screen devices

Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise (replaces Windows Phone for Business)

 

 

For enterprise use with smartphones and smaller tablets

All features of home edition but includes features for improved IT handling within the business environment

  • Allows more control over security features
  • Available to volume licencing customers
  • Control over installation of updates
  • Additional security features and management tools
  • Early access to security and innovations features

Windows 10 IoT Core (replaces Windows Embedded)

Internet of Things Industry, developers of hardware

For use in wide variety of devices, mainly smaller connected devices

Table 1

The deciding factor

For the home consumer Windows 10 Home, the basic version, is likely to suffice. For the more IT attuned, probably not, as this basic version lacks some features that a more technically inclined individual may deem necessary (additional security and data management and control features for example).

If this is the case it’s best to opt for the Windows 10 Pro (Windows Home features as well as more advanced features) or even the Windows 10 Enterprise (Windows Pro features as well as a more advanced feature set) versions, so that you can make use of the enhanced features affiliated with those specific versions.

Many security and privacy features will come as default with all versions of the OS but for some these may not be enough and this is when it becomes a strategic choice whether to make the leap and consider a more advanced version. Also the ability to have access to the security updates more readily and to be able to manage a multiple of devices more efficiently may be a determining factor for some.

Cyber-attacks are affecting many people and businesses globally and attacks are progressively more sophisticated and more efficacious. Windows 10 aims to actively address modern security threats by including advancements on the security capabilities the OS offers and has built in as default.

Some significant improvements in security features that a consumer and business could benefit from are firstly the advancements in protecting identity and controlling access. Windows 10 is moving away from single factor authentication to strengthen this area. Also VPN control options allow further control over network access. With multifactor authentication becoming default with the OS and the device itself becoming the one factor needed for authentication, while the second factor a PIN or biometric of your choosing. A second notable improvement is the data protection capabilities. Windows 10 offers a data loss prevention (DLP) solution. This is built into the platform and will be advantageous to business to assist in separating corporate and personal data by containment. Businesses can also encrypt data, content and information automatically. Threat resistance features have also been added. Businesses have the ability to lock down devices by utilising chosen trusted apps; thereby controlling what is installed on devices and keeping threats out.

Ultimately it will be a personal decision and highly dependent on your present and future requirements of your technology and your devices, how you use them and under what conditions, what data is processed and stored on them and how important you deem this to be.

For enterprises both small and large and academic institutions the decision is an easy one, as the versions suited have been designed and developed specifically to meet those environments accordingly.

Conclusion

With each version it is hoped that the user experience will be enhanced as it is detailed to the application and the variety of editions should cover the gamut of devices, applications and environments needed, for computing sufficiently and securely in these evolving times.

The offering of Windows 10, ‘a comprehensive Windows’, across all vectors and the assurance that Windows 10 is here to stay, albeit for the updates, should achieve familiarity across the board and assist in accomplishing an easier and more coherent approach to computing across devices and environments.

The new Windows 10 platform is still evolving and it is likely to be released without the full feature set, however many features will follow subsequently both obvious and not, in the form of various Windows 10 updates.

As long as your hardware will allow, you will be able to receive the upgrades and maintain your OS at its optimum.

The new Windows 10 OS is expected to continue to develop and evolve and aim to address the fluctuating demands of the customer and IT environment over the years to come. It may not change name but will certainly unremittingly transform and will be an ever-evolving OS.

See Also


The Author — Ricky M. & Monique L. Magalhaes

Ricky M. & Monique L. Magalhaes avatar

Ricky M Magalhaes is an International Information Security architect, working with a myriad of high profile organizations. Monique is an international security researcher, she holds a BSc Degree (Cum Laude). Previously she has focussed on research and development at leading enterprises in the Southern hemisphere.