Can I use Windows 10 Home in my business?
One of the things we recommend when looking for a new laptop or desktop for your business is to ensure it has Windows 10 Pro rather than Windows 10 Home.
So why do we make the recommendation?
Home edition will work perfectly well for a business and there is no legal reason why you can’t use home edition in a business. Pro costs more too.
Windows 10 Home, as its name suggests, is designed for the home user. This means a single computer and a printer and data that is not commercially sensitive. It works fantastically well in that environment.
Windows 10 Pro is what we recommend for businesses. This is because it gives increased security and system management.
Here are some of the most important features that you get in Windows 10 Pro that you don’t get in Home and why they are important for your business.
Microsoft Update For Business
One of the most useful features of Windows 10 Pro is the ability to control updates. You’ve all experienced the frustration of an ill-timed Windows reboot as an update is installed.
More serious than an inconvenient reboot is the fact that some Windows updates can cause massive issues. This can be a real problem in situations where people are using older software. Being able to delay installation means that thorough testing can be carried out to ensure compatibility before rolling the update out.
With Windows 10 Home you can delay installation by a few hours. However with Pro you can delay features updates for up to 365 days, and quality updates for 30 days.
Microsofts encryption software will protect your files from being accessed if your PC is lost or stolen.
Locking down your data isn’t 100% fool proof but it’s a layer of security that you really should be using. It’s especially useful for remote workers, and those that travel for work.
There are free third-party tools that you can use instead of BitLocker. However, these are not as well integrated as Microsofts offering. With BitLocker your decryption key is deployed seamlessly when you enter your Windows laptop.
Domain Join & Group Policy
You cannot join a Windows 10 Home PC to your business domain.
A Windows domain is essentially a network of controlled computers used in a business. At least one server, called a domain controller, is in charge of the other devices. This lets the network administrators (usually IT staff or your external IT support) control the computers on the domain.
Unlike a personal machine, a domain-connected PC doesn’t use local account logins. Instead, the domain controller manages the logins. Using Microsoft’s Active Directory, which is user management software, the network administrators can easily create new users and disable old ones.
This is important for businesses as it means whoever is in control of the systems can delete old users, who are a potential security risk. If they try to log in with their old password, they’ll see a message that they were denied access. They can also add users to specific groups to allow access to private server folders.
A domain allows the control of several computers at the same time. Without it IT staff would have to individually manage each computer. This is not scalable, so is only really practical for very small companies. It may also mean an increase in IT support costs. This is because there is much more work involved in every change.
A domain also allows the use of Group Policy. This allows administrators to configure all sorts of security and use policies for all computers.
Remote Desktop Connection
Both Home and Pro machines can start a Remote Desktop Connection. This allows the ‘master’ machine to control the ‘slave’ machine and all of its resources. However a home machine cannot be remotely controlled. That’s only available on Pro machines.
Windows 10 Home machines can be remotely assisted. This means that the Windows 10 “master” machine controls the “slave” machine, and the “slave” display mirrors the master display. Remote Assistance is useful as an educational tool. For example a remote technician can show someone how to adjust the graphics settings, by moving their mouse.
The upshot is that work machines can be accessed from home. But home machines can be controlled only from work. If you run a small business, Remote Desktop Connection is another reason to consider Windows 10 Pro.
Should you upgrade?
As with any business decision then you need to weigh up risk and reward. If you’ve got sensitive data and you spend a lot of time out of the office then BitLocker alone could be worth the upgrade price. Similarly if you’re looking to grow and get a domain then getting existing machines on the correct operating system now would make sense.
If the price difference between a new laptop with Home and Pro is just a few pounds then it makes sense to get the Pro version.
The tools within Windows 10 Pro will provide greater security, regardless of the size of your business. It will also make you much easier to support for a professional IT support company. The likelihood is that a provider will insist on the upgrade when taking over your IT support.
If you are running Windows 10 Home in your business and you want to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro then you’re looking at a cost of $99 (approx. £72)from the Microsoft Store. Full instructions here.
An alternative is to look at an IT Support option that includes Windows 10 licencing. An example of this is our YourOffice service. This is especially suitable for smaller businesses, in the 2-9 employee range. YourOffice includes the Windows licence, Microsoft365 productivity suite and IT support in a simple, all-inclusive package.