Windows 10 Home vs. Pro vs. S Mode

Windows 10 still holds its own, although Windows 11 is worth the upgrade. It has many of the same features as its younger brother, and with some applications, it is even better. But if you are planning to install Windows 10 on a new computer, you have to choose from one of the many options of Windows 10 to install.

Do you need to install Windows 10 Home? Windows 10 Pro? What about S Mode? In this Windows 10 guide, we’ll break down the most popular versions and why one or the other might be best for you.

Windows 10 Home vs. Pro vs. S mode features

It can be challenging to work through all the versions of Windows 10 to decide which one is right for your needs. All three mainstream versions are on this list and should give you the best choice for general computing or school.

Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Pro Windows 10 S Mode
Cortana yea yea yea
Windows Hello yea yea yea
Bitlocker encryption not yea Depends on
underlying version
Xbox games yea yea yea
Virtualization services not Remote Desktop
Client Hyper-V
Shared PC
Depends on
underlying version
Availability of the app Windows Store, third party Windows Store, third party Windows Store only
Browsers Everything is there Everything is there Edge

What is Windows 10 Home?

Windows 10 Home is the standard version of the operating system, the baseline package designed for general users who primarily access Windows at home. This version contains all the core features aimed at a wide consumer market, such as Cortana voice assistant, Outlook, OneNote, and Microsoft Edge. Home is still compatible with the Windows Insider program, but it limits the security and group management services available in other versions.

Windows 10 Home includes all the features you need for everyday use. You will find support for voice commands, pen sketches, touch display, Windows Hello login, and more. Windows 10 Home also includes integral device encryption that is turned on by default, but do not confuse that with the more powerful BitLocker encryption service (see below).

While Windows 10 Home doesn’t usually come with the full Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), it does – for better or worse – include a 30-day free trial. for the Microsoft 365 subscription service in the hope that new users will subscribe once the trial ends. There is also access to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, with automatic setup through your Microsoft Account. The free version provides 5GB, while you can get more storage with a Microsoft 365 subscription.

For gamers, the Xbox app, game streaming, Xbox controller support, Xbox Game Bar, and more are all supported on Windows 10 Home.

Generally speaking, Windows 10 Home is light on professional features, but it includes mobile device management. That may help individuals or families who want to control apps and security settings for connected phones.

What is Windows 10 Pro?

The Windows 10 Pro Start Menu.

The professional version of Windows 10 has almost everything that Windows Home offers, plus security and management services. This version of Windows 10 is usually purchased by most companies or schools, although you can configure desktops and laptops to include it instead of using Home.

Although Home and Pro have the same root features, there are additional extras that – as the name suggests – professional users may be of interest, although it is not only for people who use in Windows for work. For example, there is a powerful and configurable BitLocker Encryption and Windows Information Protection, which helps with advanced access control.

You can also find more customizable packages for education and business purposes. You can even find access to cool features like Windows Sandbox, which lets you run untrusted apps in a virtual environment.

Windows 10 Pro includes access to business versions of Microsoft services, including Windows Store for Business, Windows Update for Business, Enterprise Mode browser options, and more. These versions include additional features to purchase and upload bulk content. Options for virtualization include Remote Desktop compatibility, Client Hyper-V, Shared PC configuration, Azure Active Directory, and more.

All that said, the additional features of Windows 10 Pro are valuable to IT administrators but not to the general PC owner.

Note that Microsoft 365 combines elements of Office 365, Windows 10, and Mobility and Security features. This is a re-packaging of Windows services across the board. Packages such as E5, E3, and F1 plans include Windows 10 Enterprise at no additional cost.

What is Windows 10 in S mode?

A person using a laptop running Windows 11.

Windows 10 in S mode is a version of Windows 10 configured by Microsoft to run on lighter devices, provide better security, and make management easier. It’s Windows 10 with kid gloves to help prevent accidents, maintain security, and focus on approved applications and services.

Windows 10 in S mode is not another version of Windows 10. Rather, it is a special mode that limits Windows 10 in various ways to make it run faster, provide longer battery life, and more safe and easier to manage. You can opt out of this mode and go back to Windows 10 Home or Pro if you want, but you need administrative access to do so, which makes Windows 10 S mode a great way to limit access to children in some content.

Functionally, S mode supports the same basic services as the underlying Windows 10 license. Microsoft targets schools in particular and wants teachers to have the necessary tools for classroom management. However, S mode also removes some important capabilities to get these results.

The first and most important difference is that Windows 10 in S mode only allows apps to be installed from the Windows Store. This limitation enables Microsoft to root malware more efficiently and ensure a certain level of app quality, but it limits what people can download and use.

Next, Microsoft Edge is the default browser in S mode, and you cannot change this setting. Again, Microsoft’s reason for this is greater security control. Similarly, Bing is the default search engine for activities in S mode. You can use the ChatGPT version if you want, though.

Startup times and app activities are generally faster in S mode, which is a plus. The reason for the speed is that there are no Windows legacy apps to slow things down. As long as you don’t eat too much RAM, S mode is positively quick. Files are automatically saved to the cloud via OneDrive, which helps prevent small hard drives from exploding. Basic Windows features such as Cortana, Windows Hello facial recognition, and Windows Ink for stylus use also remain.

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