Windows 10 Home Ultra Explained. Again. (Updated)

Posted on May 28, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 29 Comments

Exclusive: Microsoft Plots a Transition Year for Windows 10

Last year, we exclusively reported on Microsoft’s plans to split up its Windows 10 Home SKU into two different tiers. This year, it’s finally happening.

UPDATE: Or not. Microsoft now says that it will not offer something called Windows 10 Ultra. So the plans cited below remain unfulfilled. I’ll leave this here for historical purposes. –Paul

But there is one change: Windows 10 Advanced, as it was originally called, has apparently been renamed to Windows 10 Ultra. This assumes that the Dell marketing materials for the new XPS 13 are correct, however.

Neowin reported this morning that the new PC will ship with something called Windows 10 Home Ultra. That’s a better name than Windows 10 Advanced, in my mind, because it better evokes something that is “better” whereas Advanced suggests “more complex.”

But Neowin gets the positioning wrong, noting that “Windows 10 Home Ultra presumably offers up some extra perks without a full Pro upgrade.”

The point of Home Advanced—sorry, Home Ultra—is not about providing another Windows 10 SKU between Home and Pro. It’s about better defining what the home and business versions of Windows 10 are. That’s why Microsoft started shipping its own Surface PCs to consumers with Windows 10 Home last fall. Home isn’t “less” than Pro. It’s tailored to a specific market. A different market.

To understand this strategy, you need to re-read our exclusive stories about it from last February. Brad first reported the new Windows 10 Consumer SKU strategy, and then I followed that up with details about the then coming transition year, the welcome new emphasis on consumers, and why this was a win for consumers.

“Windows 10 Home is picking up Advanced capabilities, tied to high-end gaming rigs, for a reasonable fee (that the PC maker will pay and then pass along),” I wrote. “Choosing Windows 10 Home Advanced, as this is called, will cost PC makers just $101. Doing so in the Pro SKU will set back PC makers $214.”  (This pricing varies by PC class.)

“Windows 10 Home Advanced will support high-end chipsets like the Intel Core i9, AMD Threadripper, Intel Core i7 or AMD FX/Ryzen7 with 6 or more cores, and any Core i7/FX/Ryzne7 configurations with 16 GB of RAM or more,” I also noted.

More to the point, remember that the switch from S Mode to Windows 10 Home is free. The switch to Windows 10 Home Ultra is not. Basically, Windows 10 Home Ultra, as it’s now called, is to Windows 10 Home as Windows 10 Pro with Workstation is to Windows 10 Pro. It’s the better version, the more advanced version. For consumers.

So, the name has changed. And Microsoft is finally starting to ship this offering about a year later than expected.

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Comments (29)

29 responses to “Windows 10 Home Ultra Explained. Again. (Updated)”

  1. Maciek

    OK, but how is it better, exactly? What does it do, that the regular version does not?

  2. Tony Barrett

    Dumb move. Pure cash grab, and will likely push even more people towards Linux. Do companies like MS have any limit to how low they will go to extract cash from their 'customers'? Doesn't seem like it.

  3. Hal9000

    What a joke.

  4. hrlngrv

    There must be a whole lot more consumer surplus for MSFT to eliminate than I can see. Granted gaming probably doesn't need domain support which Pro provides, and BitLocker may slow down gaming PCs, so maybe Ultra would be better for gamers with top-end processors. Anyone else? I figure Pro would still be better and worth the cost for home office PCs, and Ultra would be overkill for non-work, non-gaming PCs.

    Tangent: if Windows 10 Pro costs OEMs US$214 while Amazon shows Windows 10 Pro 64-bit System Builder packages under US$100 sure makes it clear to me that it's better to buy white box PCs.

  5. BoItmanLives

    What a cluster

  6. Kevin Costa

    I think Windows 10 Home Ultra/Advanced/Whatever is a nomenclature for OEMs only, to determine how much the license will cost. A licence of 10 Home for a small tablet will cost them less than a license for a powerful workstation/ultrabook. The 'Windows 10 Home Ultra' name, in this case, refers only to the hardware that the OS runs, not the software. Makes no sense split the Home SKU into more sub-SKUs, to confuse people even more, and limit the "lesser Home" SKU from supporting hardware from the "greater Home" SKU. The Windows business being demoted slowly, MS would not shot themselves in the foot doing this (sounds like a "2015 Windows Everywhere" Nadella idea). I might be wrong, though.

  7. OldITPro2000

    What happened to having less SKUs with Windows 10? This is just an artificial money grab.

    There should really only be two editions: Windows 10, and Windows 10 Enterprise.

    Enterprise should be a super-set of features (AppLocker, UE-V, etc.).

    They should be sold in all channels (OEM, retail, education, etc.).

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to OldITPro2000:

      This is just an artificial money grab.

      There's nothing artificial about the money grab. It's quite real, and MSFT is entitled to it as long as OEMs will pay for it.

      I agree completely that there should only be Enterprise and Other variants. Domain support, BitLocker, Hyper-V, etc should be cost-plus add-ons for Other and negotiated by enterprises for Enterprise.

  8. Vladimir Carli

    I have an i9 and it has always been perfectly recognized by windows 10 home

    • anderb

      In reply to Vladimir:

      That's today. The point of this article is to suggest that future Windows versions will not only recognize your i9, they will also recognize you haven't paid to unlock its full potential.

  9. elessar25

    Will it include Hyper V?

    • DaveHelps

      In reply to elessar25:

      This. Many developers are now learning to target containers, and Docker on Windows needs Hyper-V. I suppose virtual box is also an option, but I think Microsoft have a lot to gain by positioning Client Hyper-V as the SQL Express of compute hosting - a gateway platform offering transparent migration to enterprise and cloud editions.

  10. Simard57

    what happened to simplifying the Windows 10 offerings? How many SKU versions are there now?

  11. jaredthegeek

    This is a money grab.

    “Windows 10 Home Advanced will support high-end chipsets like the Intel Core i9, AMD Threadripper, Intel Core i7 or AMD FX/Ryzen7 with 6 or more cores, and any Core i7/FX/Ryzne7 configurations with 16 GB of RAM or more,”

    So if you want a fast computer you have to pay for Windows to unlock those features in the OS? What happens if I just buy regular old Windows Home, will they only let me use 8 gigs of RAM? This is idiotic and serves no purpose than to further fleece the consumer.

    The more advanced version is garbage, there is zero explanation what is advanced about it other than its price.

    • falonyn

      In reply to jaredthegeek:

      That was my first thought. If I have Windows 10 Home, and I purchase a Ryzen Threadripper, will it not recognize it because I have the wrong version of the OS? Am I limited on the amount of RAM it will support?

      If I am building a rig, I will probably do the research to get the right OS version, but making it harder and costlier to game on Windows doesn't seem like the right move with Steam Proton and Stadia, Amazon's game streaming...

    • rh24

      In reply to jaredthegeek:

      I picked up on the same thing. Feels like they are going to soon be charging more above a certain CPU/RAM threshold. That's a pretty lame move given that there is nothing from a software perspective that is different between 6, 8, or 12 cores. It does indeed feel like monitizing users who are willing to pay a bit more for higher end PC hardware.

  12. bart

    So Windows Lite will be called Windows 10 Simple.

    You know it's coming! :)

  13. Intara

    M$ at its best. Using the Windows Home users as guinea pigs for testing new Windows 10 versions. And then tell them they should spend more money if they want to play decent Games on their machines.

  14. mrlinux11

    Will it also support Bit Locker ?

  15. ben55124

    I was hoping the de-emphasis on Windows would have resulted in just one client SKU that could be configured without additional licensing. The people who need advanced may be advanced enough to go elsewhere -- mac, linux, chromebook, etc.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to ben55124:

      Amazon currently lists offerings for Windows 10 Pro 64-bit which are cheaper than the US$101 for Advanced shown in the article above. I figure anyone who needs Advanced would be clever enough to know how to buy PCs without Windows preinstalled, then buy a Pro license kit for under US$100 and install it themselves.

  16. will

    What the heck?! Why not just make Windows 10 Home support all the advanced stuff it needs to, same goes with Pro. Yes, this is all about $$$ and that is all this is about.

    IMO there should be three versions, we'll just 1 but let's just stick with three:

    Windows 10

    Windows 10 Pro

    Windows 10 Enterprise

    All versions support whatever chipsets are our there for consumers with the exception being Pro and Enterprise support more advanced workstation/server class hardware. Enterprise has more advanced software abilities since it can only be purchased with volume licensing such as Defender ATP.

    Why can it not be just like this?

  17. dontbe evil

    as usual paul wrote something wrong once again, the problem is that it's not written as a personal opinion, but as statement, people believe this, and than is hard to make them change idea back