One of the best things about using Microsoft products in your business is the variety of options – there is almost always going to be a product that fits your needs. One of the worst things about Microsoft products is figuring out which option is the best one for you. Because there are so many options, it can be difficult to determine which version is best for you.
Windows 10 is no exception. There are several versions of Windows 10 available: Home, Pro, Enterprise, Education, and S. If you’re buying Windows 10 for your business, you’ll need to get either Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise (also called Windows 10 ENT). Deciding between these will come down to what features you need and how you want to pay for it.
The Short Version
Windows 10 Pro is a one-time fee of $199.99. Windows 10 ENT has the same features of Windows 10 Pro with additional security features and is a monthly free, starting at $7/user/month.
License Type + Cost
The biggest difference between Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise is the type of license. Windows 10 Pro follows the traditional licensing model, where you pay a one-time fee of $199.99 for the license and own it forever.
Windows 10 Enterprise is an OS-as-a-Service license, meaning you pay a small monthly fee for the license. Windows 10 Enterprise has two different license options: E3 and E5. E3 is $7/per/user per month, and E5 is $14/user/month (check the Features section for the differences). With Windows 10 Enterprise, you can scale up or down at any time, so you’re only paying for the licenses you need.
Windows 10 is a pretty big leap from previous versions, especially Windows 8, which eliminated the Start Screen. Windows 10 brings back the Start Screen and adds some nice new features including Cortana digital assistant and the Edge browser.
Windows 10 Pro includes all the features of Windows 10 Home and adds features for businesses. Additional features include:
- Windows Information Protection
- Group Policy
- Windows Store for Business
- Assigned Access
- Dynamic Provisioning
- Windows Update for Business (varies by market)
- Shared PC Configuration
- Domain Join
- Remote Desktop
- Client Hyper-V
If you have Azure Active Directory (AAD), you also get AAD Domain Join with single sign-on.
Windows 10 Enterprise E3 includes all of the features of Windows 10 Pro plus a few more, mainly around security. Additional features include:
- Device Guard
- Credential Guard
- Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V)
- Microsoft User Environment Virtualization (UE-V)
- Windows Analytics
- Long Term Servicing Branch
Windows 10 Enterprise E5 Includes all the features in E3, plus Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.
A note on audits
Some companies will try to save money by installing the same operating system license key on multiple machines – this is a bad idea. Microsoft regularly audits businesses using their products to ensure they’re not trying to cheat the system. If you get caught, you face fines from Microsoft that range in the tens of thousands of dollars (we’ve seen up to $100,000).
A word of advice: whether you decide to go with an OS-as-a-Service license like Windows 10 Enterprise or a traditional operating system, don’t try to cheat. Pay the cost for the licenses and keep good records (or confirm with your IT company that they’re keeping good notes – which they should be doing anyway). It will make your life much easier when an audit rolls around. Please note, Microsoft audits all their products, not just the operating systems.
There is no correct answer about which option is right for you. It comes down to your specific business needs and your budget.
As with any OS upgrade, don’t make any changes without doing some research first. Not all line-of-business applications and computers are compatible with Windows 10 yet. Before you upgrade, make sure your current applications and computer will still work (or plan for upgrading/replacing those, too) or you could be in for some surprise headaches and costs. A good Microsoft partner (like us!) can help you figure that out.
If you have any questions about Windows 10, please let us know!