Windows 11 Home vs. Windows 11 Pro

Pro has more features but Home users are NOT missing anything essential (and it's what most people should use)

In keeping with previous editions of its flagship operating system, Microsoft offers Windows 11 in two versions: Home and Professional. As their names imply, the Home edition is geared toward consumers while the Pro edition is designed for business use.

While Windows 11 Pro may seem like the better option given its additional features, the upgrade may not be worth the cost depending on your needs. Let’s take a look at what Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro have to offer.

Windows 11 Home vs Pro

Overall Findings

Windows 11 Home
  • $139 to purchase.

  • Additional $99 to upgrade to Pro.

  • Windows Store for Home.

  • Windows Hello.

Windows 11 Pro
  • $199 to purchase.

  • Windows Package Manager.

  • Additional security features.

  • Built-in virtual tools.

  • Can join an Azure Active Directory Domain.

  • Higher CPU and RAM support.

Windows 11 Home and Pro have many of the same features, meaning you’ll be able to take advantage of upgrades like Widgets, Snap Layouts, and the redesigned Taskbar no matter which version you choose.

Where the two versions differ is built-in features, as Windows 11 Pro has some exclusive security and virtualization features you won’t find in Windows 11 Home. The good news is most of these tools are only going to be useful to system administrators, so the average user isn’t missing out on essential functionality if they skip the Pro version.

As of Q1 2023, the Microsoft Store for Business has been retired, though you can still download free and individually licensed applications. 

Security: Windows 11 Pro Offers Additional Features

Windows 11 Home
  • Device encryption.

  • Firewall and network protection.

  • Parental controls.

  • Secure Boot.

  • Windows Defender Antivirus.

Windows 11 Pro
  • Bitlocker encryption.

  • Windows Information Protection (WIP).

  • All Windows 11 Home security features.

While Windows 11 Home offers more than enough protection for most people, the Pro edition is equipped with several exclusive security features. The first is Bitlocker encryption, which allows you to encrypt the data on your drive. Although device encryption is available on the Home edition, it’s more limited. Pro users benefit from additional setup options and the ability to set up encryption for each drive on the PC.

The second major security difference is Windows Information Protection (WIP). This feature is primarily designed with business users in mind, as it’s a data loss prevention tool that can prevent a company’s sensitive data from leaking.

Management Features: Windows 11 Pro Includes Exclusive Admin Tools

Windows 11 Home
  • Can't join an Active Directory.

  • Requires a third-party app for remote desktop support.

Windows 11 Pro
  • Azure Active Directory Domain Join.

  • Access to device management tools such as Group Policy, Enterprise State Roaming, and more.

As a business-focused product, Windows 11 Pro has a number of exclusive device management tools. The majority of these tools won’t offer much utility for your personal computer, which is why they’re not available with Windows 11 Home. These management features include:

  • Enterprise State Roaming: A synchronization tool that allows you to sync settings across your Windows devices (requires an Azure AD subscription).
  • Windows Update for Business: An admin tool that keeps Windows devices across an organization up-to-date on security and other Windows features.
  • Group Policy: A longtime Windows feature that lets administrators set system-wide limits on user accounts. 
  • Mobile Device Management: Allows IT technicians to manage security and business applications for Windows laptops, desktops, phones, and other devices remotely without compromising user data.
  • Dynamic Provisioning: A tool for applying configuration settings to Windows client devices. Provisioning packages can be created with the Windows Configuration Designer app, which is available through the Microsoft Store.
  • Assigned access: Limits what a user sees when certain applications are opened.
  • Kiosk mode: Similar to Assigned access, Kiosk mode allows administrators to restrict users to a specific set of applications on Windows-based devices.

Virtualization and Remote Desktop: Windows 11 Pro Lets You Create Virtual Machines

Windows 11 Home
  • Requires a third-party app for virtualization.

  • Virtual Desktops.

Windows 11 Pro
  • Hyper-V.

  • Windows Sandbox.

  • Remote Desktop.

Not to be confused with Windows 11’s much-touted Virtual Desktops feature, Windows 11 Pro expands upon the virtualization tools found in Windows 10. This includes:

  • Hyper-V: a built-in function that lets you create virtual machines. This is useful if you want to run other operating systems without harming your host OS. Windows 11 Home doesn’t support Hyper-V, although you can use third-party software to achieve similar functionality.
  • Windows Sandbox: Conceptually similar to Hyper-V but instead of other operating systems, you can only create an instance of Windows 11. As the name implies, this temporary version of Windows is isolated from the rest of your system, allowing you to try out apps risk-free before installing them on your machine.
  • Remote Desktop: Allows you to access your desktop remotely with another device, such as a phone or tablet. 

Although the PC you’re connecting to (the Remote Desktop server) needs to be running Windows 11 Pro in order to use Remote Desktop, the client machine (the device you’re connecting from) can use Windows 11 Home or a different operating system.

System Requirements: Pro Has Higher Upper Limits.

Windows 11 Home
  • 128GB RAM limit.

  • Supports one CPU.

  • 64 core limit.

Windows 11 Pro
  • 2TB RAM limit.

  • Supports two CPUs.

  • 128 core limit.

Windows 11 Home and Pro share the same minimum system requirements, so you don’t need to worry about having more powerful hardware to run the latter. That said, there are some differences when it comes to high-end system specs.

Windows 11 Home has a memory limit of 128GB of RAM, while Pro supports up to 2TB. Likewise, Windows 11 Home is limited to one CPU and 64 cores, whereas Pro maxes out at two CPUs and 128 cores. These upper limits are well beyond the capabilities of most machines, but worth keeping in mind if you’re working with a high-end PC. 

Final Verdict: Windows 11 Pro is Better but Has Niche Appeal

Although it may look like Windows 11 Pro offers a lot more value, the truth is most people won’t need to make the upgrade. Windows 11 Home is robust in its own right and shares the majority of the same features as Windows 11 Pro.

There's also the price to consider. At $199, Windows 11 Pro is $60 more than Home, which retails for $139. That said, the upgrade fee from Home to Pro is $99, so you'll be paying a premium if you buy Home but decide you need Pro later.

Unless you need to use your PC in a corporate environment or anywhere else where security is a serious concern, it’s probably a better idea to grab Windows 11 Home first and make the upgrade to Pro if you really need it.

  • How do I upgrade Windows 11 Pro to Home?

    For a fee, you can go from the Home version to Pro through the Start menu. Go to Start > Settings > System > Activation, and then select Open Store under Upgrade your edition of Windows. The Microsoft Store will open, and you can purchase the upgrade and install it immediately.

  • Where do I buy Windows 11?

    The main way to get Windows 11 is from Microsoft's store, where you can buy the Home edition or the Pro version. Both flavors of the operating system are also available online or in-store from other electronics retailers.

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