Windows 10 editions

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

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 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).

Organizational editions

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) (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. Some features, including the Microsoft Store and bundled apps, are not included in this edition. However, Windows Store can be installed using a command prompt. 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).

S mode

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,[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. 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.

Device-specific editions

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.
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.

Discontinued editions

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.

Regional variations

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,[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 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.

Comparison chart

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
Features Home Single Language Home Pro Pro (Education) Education Pro for Workstations Enterprise
Architecture IA-32, x86-64, ARM64 (since 2018)
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) 128 GB 2 TB (2048 GB) 6 TB (6144 GB)
Maximum CPU sockets 1 2 4
Maximum CPU cores 32 logical cores on IA-32
1280 logical cores (20 groups of 64 logical processors) on x86-64
Minimum telemetry level Required Diagnostic data off Required Diagnostic data off
Continuum Yes
Family Safety and Parental Controls Yes
Cortana 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 Yes Depends on OEM, region, and carrier Yes
Mobile device management Yes
Side-loading of line of business apps Yes
Virtual desktops Yes
Windows Hello Yes
Can pause updates? Yes, since version 1903 Yes
Windows Spotlight 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
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 Yes
Remote Direct Memory Access No 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 No Yes No Yes
Long-term servicing option available (LTSC) No Yes
Windows To Go 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.

Upgrade path

Free upgrade

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 10 free upgrade matrix
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 8.1
Windows 7 Professional SP1 Pro
Windows 7 Ultimate SP1
Windows 8.1 Pro
Windows Phone 8.1 Mobile

Transition paths

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.

Transition path Meaning
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
Supported transition targets
Transition 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 Migration None
Home Basic Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Migration None
Home Premium Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Migration None
Professional Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade None
Ultimate Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade None
Enterprise Migration Migration Upgrade Migration Upgrade Upgrade None
Windows 8.1 (Core) Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Migration None
with Bing Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Migration None
Pro Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade None
Pro for Students Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade None
Pro with Media Center Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade None
Enterprise Migration Migration Migration Migration Upgrade Upgrade None
Embedded Industry Migration Migration Migration Migration Migration Upgrade None
Phone 8.1 None None None None None None Upgrade
Windows 10 Home Repair Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade None
Pro Downgrade Repair Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade None
Pro for Workstations Downgrade Downgrade Repair Upgrade Upgrade Upgrade None
Pro Education Downgrade Upgrade Upgrade Repair Migration Migration None
Education Migration Migration Migration Migration Repair Upgrade None
Enterprise Migration Migration Migration Migration Downgrade Repair None
Mobile None None None None None None None

Release channels

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.

Insider Channel

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 (including Microsoft Edge). LTSC was originally called the "Long-Term Servicing Branch" (LTSB) until 2016.

See also

This page was last updated at 2023-06-30 07:39 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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