Windows 11 Pro is an upgrade over the essential Home edition of the venerable operating system. Both in terms of price and features. Apart from these two popular editions, Microsoft also offers Education and Enterprise versions of the same.
However, if you’re using Home in a professional setup, you’ll definitely run into situations where you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro edition to use certain features. For example, remote desktop (RDP) functionality is not available in the Home edition.
So should you upgrade to Windows 11 Pro, and who is it best for? In this article, we discuss the benefits of Windows 11 Professional and the suitability of the upgrade for home users and SMBs.
Who is Windows 11 Pro for?
What sets the Home and Pro editions of the Windows 11 operating system apart are the features. The latter comes with an additional set of features specifically aimed at business users and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
For example, if you are someone working in an environment that requires access to a remote access tool, built-in encryption, a virtual machine, and access to a group policy editor, Windows 11 Pro is a good fit.
For SMBs, Windows 11 Pro offers kiosk mode, mobile device management, group policy, dynamic provisioning and more.
Although upgrading from Windows 11 Home to Pro is not a difficult task, you need to purchase an upgrade license. If you’re considering going Pro and wondering if paying extra for the premium edition is worth it, here’s what you need to consider.
Windows 11 Pro offers Bitlocker drive encryption
A major advantage of Windows 11 Pro is the built-in Bitlocker drive encryption. It is an operating system built-in data security feature developed to combat data theft through unauthorized access.
While a basic device encryption feature is part of all compatible Windows 11 systems, Bitlocker offers more options for managing encryption. It includes the ability to remove passwords, add smart card, enable auto-lock, save recovery key, and more.
BitLocker encryption is full device encryption and stores the encryption key locally. It also does not require Microsoft account technology or Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) to operate.
Mobile device management
Windows 11 Pro offers access to mobile device management (MDM) to facilitate the management of security policies and business applications.
It gives your IT team access to all company devices, allowing you to secure, deploy updates, and monitor devices. You can also get the compliance status of managed devices.
Group Policy (editor)
The Group Policy Editor is part of Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and allows the IT administrator to control computer settings known as Group Policy Objects in an organization.
You can use GPOs in several ways. For example, you can use it to set a homepage for your employees, define security settings, including restricting user access to programs and screen time, configuring network printers, and more.
Access to Group Policy and its correct use is extremely important for the security of your IT infrastructure configuration. Using GPOs, the network administrator can grant or revoke privileges based on the user’s job code.
By default, the Group Policy Editor is only available for Windows 11 Pro, Edu, and Enterprise editions of the operating system. Although you can install GPEdit in Windows Home with a batch script, the hack won’t provide access to all aspects of Group Policy.
Thin provisioning is an image deployment option for organizations. It lets you set up new Windows 11 devices for enterprise use without having to deploy a custom image to the device.
Thanks to this, the IT administrator will not need to manually configure company devices for new employees. Instead, the IT administrator can configure a provisioning package to install required drivers, applications, and security configuration and deploy them.
You can use dynamic provisioning in combination with mobile device management (MDM) services such as Microsoft Intune to deploy the provisioning package file and self-service installation of trusted apps.
Kiosk mode is a customer-centric feature available in Windows 11 Pro and higher editions. Kiosk devices provide a personalized experience locked down for public or specialized use to boost productivity and engagement.
You can configure kiosk mode to run and allow the user to use pre-determined applications. At the same time, prevent access to other operating system functions. You can use it to run a single-app or multi-app kiosk, though the latter isn’t available at press time.
Kiosk modes use their own local standard, domain, or Azure Active Directory account. As a result, it provides more control over device usage for your business while ensuring device security.
Remote Desktop is an integrated remote desktop protocol (RDP) developed by Microsoft available in the Pro edition of the operating system. With this, you can remotely connect, control and maintain your Windows device from another Windows, Android or iOS device.
You can use Remote Desktop to allow the IT administrator to remotely connect to compatible devices on your network for troubleshooting purposes. Plus, it’s a great option for employees to remotely access their work computer from any device.
Although there are many third-party remote access tools with fewer limitations and more features, Remote Desktop is a built-in utility and does not require a commercial license to operate.
Hyper-V hardware virtualization
Hyper-V is Microsoft’s internal hardware virtualization solution available in Windows 11 Pro. Useful if you want to run multiple operating systems as virtual machines under Windows.
This useful utility is relatively stable and less resource-intensive than its third-party alternatives. You can create virtual hard disks, virtual switches and add additional virtual devices to your virtual machine.
That said, if you only need a virtual machine solution, you can install Hyper-V in Windows 11 Home without upgrading to Pro.
Windows SandBox is another handy virtualization feature that Windows 11 Pro users can use. Unlike Hyper-V, Windows SandBox runs another instance of the operating system installed in a sandbox environment.
Think of it as a mirror dimension of the Windows operating system. In this environment, you can test your applications and files in isolation without affecting the host system. When closed, all applications and files are deleted.
Unlike Hyper-V, the Windows Sandbox session is easier to load, use, and terminate. But, on the other hand, it can only run the current version of Windows 11. So, if you want to run an older version or a different OS, you will need to use Hyper-V or virtual machine software. third.
Enterprise State Roaming
Enterprise State Roaming (ESR) is an optional feature of the Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD) service available in Windows 11 Pro. It allows your employees to sync user app data settings with the cloud to deliver the same end-user experience on all Windows devices.
ESR is useful when you need to replace an existing device with a new one without having to reconfigure the device from scratch. When enabled, user and app settings sync from the Azure cloud account and apply to the new device.
Synced data settings include theme, taskbar position, wallpaper, Microsoft Edge settings, bookmarks, and Universal Windows apps settings.
Windows Update for Business
Microsoft bundles Windows Update for Business with its Pro edition of the Windows 11 operating system. With this, IT administrators can manage Windows updates for devices in an organization.
You can deploy updates using an MDM service or Group Policy. Additionally, it allows you to deploy updates to selected computers to test stability before pushing updates to all computers on the network.
Windows 11 Pro for Business is built for hybrid working
On the surface, you won’t find much difference between the different editions of the Windows 11 operating system. However, the premium edition comes with its own bucket of goodies and specialized tools.
The Pro edition is a great option for SMBs and professionals looking for a tailored solution for their business with enhanced security, Azure AD, remote collaboration, kiosk mode, and mass deployment features.