Today, Microsoft announced the various Windows 10 product editions that it will sell to end users directly and with mainstream personal devices such as phones, tablets and PCs. But the software giant is inexplicably expanding the number of product editions for Windows 10, which could lead to some confusion.
What Microsoft is not announcing is pricing, availability, or what the retail packaging will look like. But with the firm on track to deliver the first Windows 10 editions this summer, we can expect those announcements in the weeks ahead as well.
For now, let’s just look at the Windows 10 product editions and discuss how they will differ from each other and how they compare to existing Windows 8.1 versions.
Windows 10 Mobile. This edition is an upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 and is aimed at smart phones, phablets, and mini-tablets with screens under 8-inches in size. It will not be sold at retail or as a standalone upgrade, but will instead only be made available as an upgrade to existing customers with Windows Phone 8.1 handsets or on new devices. Windows 10 Mobile support Continuum for phone, but only on new, as-yet released devices.
Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise. This new offering will only be made available to Volume Licensing customers. It provides everything in Windows 10 Mobile plus the ability for businesses to manage how and when updates are delivered. (However, Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise will receive the latest security updates as soon as they are available.)
Windows 10 Home. This edition is an upgrade for Windows 8.1 “Core” and I’m glad they’re calling it something explicit this time, since the “Core” bit was internal only in the Windows 8 generation of products. Windows 10 Home is aimed at consumers and at devices such as tablets, 2-in-1s and PCs. Windows 10 Home will be made available as a free upgrade to any user with a Windows 7 or 8.x-based device, during the first year after Windows 10 is launched. (I assume you need Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 8.x “Core” to qualify for this upgrade.)
Windows 10 Pro. This edition is an upgrade for Windows 8.1 Pro, obviously. It builds on Windows 10 Home, adding features aimed at small businesses, including device management, remote desktop and the coming Windows Update for Business cloud service. Windows 10 Pro will be made available as a free upgrade to any user with a Windows 7 or 8.x-based device, during the first year after Windows 10 is launched. (I assume you need Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.x Pro to qualify for this upgrade.)
Windows 10 Enterprise. This edition is an upgrade for Windows 8.1 Enterprise, of course. As before, it is a superset of Windows 10 Pro, adding features aimed at medium- and large-sized organizations. It will be available to Volume Licensing customers only, including Software Assurance, and these customers will be able to choose how and when updates are applied.
Windows 10 Education. This new offering is essentially Windows 7 Enterprise for schools—it will be available only through academic Volume Licensing—and is aimed at teachers, students, and school staff and administrators. It’s unclear how this product differs from Windows 10 Enterprise at this time. But schools with Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro devices will be able to upgrade them to Windows 10 Education.
Other editions. Microsoft will also deliver versions of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for vertical devices like ATMs, retail point of sale (PoS), handheld terminals and industrial robotics. It will provide Windows 10 IoT Core for small footprint, low cost devices like Raspberry Pi 2 (which I’m now writing up). And it will ship tailored versions of Windows 10 for Xbox One, Microsoft HoloLens and Surface Hub.
So two things.
I’m a bit concerned about the escalation in product editions here, and will remind everyone for the umpteenth time that Apple makes one version of Mac OS X and one version of iOS only. Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise and Windows 10 Education, in particular, seem unnecessarily redundant, and I will even argue that Home/Pro should simply be combined into a single product called—wait for it—Windows 10. But I’m obviously not calling the shots here.
This announcement is also light on which exact features will be available in which editions. I look forward to documenting this information in great detail, both here on thurrott.com and in the forthcoming book, Windows 10 Field Guide. And I’ll have more as soon as I can.