Trying to figure out which version of Windows your small business should use? You're not alone. For most entrepreneurs, it comes down to Windows 10 Professional or Windows 10 Enterprise. Both are widely available on affordable devices, and they offer nearly identical experiences for the end user. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and all the other Windows standbys, as well as access to the Windows store, are the same in each version.
The features included in the Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise service packages are different, though, and so are the prices.
|Features||Windows 10 Professional||Windows 10 Enterprise|
Windows Information Protection, BitLocker, BitLocker to Go, Windows Defender Antivirus and automatic updates
|Windows Information Protection, BitLocker, BitLocker to Go, Windows Defender Antivirus, Windows Defender Credential Guard, Windows Defender Application Control, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection and automatic updates|
Varies based on the size of the business and the features you want
Windows Autopilot eases device deployment
Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) and Microsoft User Environment Virtualization centralizes apps
Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Pro was built for professionals with limited or no tech support who still want access to business-grade features like mobile device management, remote desktop access, shared devices with multiple logins, and Microsoft Intune.
The default security settings in Windows 10 Pro are suitable for most small businesses, and updates are relatively automated. In other words, if you don't want to mess around with security settings, you don't have to. All you need to do is run updates when prompted, and you should be good to go. It also comes with BitLocker and BitLocker to Go, as well as Windows Defender Antivirus.
The listed price for a one-off subscription is $199.99 per license, but for businesses, there are often bundled deals offered in exchange for quantity purchases.
Outstanding feature: User-friendly device management
Windows Autopilot, a built-in feature of Windows 10 Pro, makes it easier for small businesses to deploy new devices to employees. Microsoft, or the hardware vendor you choose to work with, will register new devices for your organization. As the business owner, you can choose to customize the default setup by creating a profile that includes things like specific settings or apps.
If you select the self-deploying mode, this only has to be completed one time. After that, every additional Autopilot-enabled device you purchase for your business will automatically be configured to your specifications, so there's no need for manual onboarding. New users can simply unpack their laptops or desktops and start working. Additionally, you can create different profiles for the same devices, which is ideal if multiple workers use the same computer, and users can also access their desktops remotely from offsite or non-work machines.
Windows 10 Enterprise
While businesses of any size can use Windows 10 Enterprise, it is built primarily for large and midsize companies. Exceptions may include small businesses with intensive security needs and skilled in-house tech pros.
Windows 10 Enterprise gives IT departments more freedom to manage security on their own terms. With these Enterprise features, your IT department can do things like remotely manage devices, deliver virtual desktops using Azure, control OS updates, manage apps, access security analytics through the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph, identify and manage data breaches, create custom detection alerts, and pull reports.
You'll have to submit a request for a price from Microsoft, which is common at the Enterprise SaaS level. Before you call, make sure you know the number of licenses you'll need; otherwise, the price quote may be inaccurate.
Outstanding features: Big business tools
Upgrading to Windows Enterprise gives users access to everything included in lower-tier versions of Windows, as well as a bevy of other solutions tailored to larger businesses.
Windows Defender: The Professional version of Windows includes Windows Defender Antivirus, but all Enterprise subscriptions include four additional subproducts: Credential Guard, Application Guard, Application Control and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP). These software tools make up the advanced security available at the Windows 10 Enterprise level.
Virtualization: Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) and Microsoft User Environment Virtualization (UE-V) are both standard with Enterprise subscriptions and allow businesses to centralize Win23 apps on a server and manage all the settings and accounts in one place. This allows your IT department a higher level of oversight and increases app security, though it has little impact on the end user.
TL;DR: Just tell me what to buy
If you are a small business owner or solo contractor with general security needs and little interest in hands-on security management, opt for Windows 10 Pro. In addition to Microsoft, well-known brands like Dell, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic, Toshiba and LG sell laptops that can be configured with Windows 10 Pro.
If you own a midsize or large business with in-house tech support, defer to your IT team. If they tell you to opt for Windows 10 Enterprise, you should request a price quote from Microsoft. If you do not have any IT support to advise you, it is highly unlikely that you require Enterprise-level security.