Upgrading to Windows 10 – future upgrade branch options

Following my article earlier today on Windows 10, there’s been quite a bit of discussion about the best way forward for users and the costs and differences between the different options.

Basically there are three options for Windows 10 (looking at PC versions here for now):

Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise.  There is also Windows 10 Education which is basically Enterprise but designed for educational institutions.

Pricing

Windows 10 pricing for home and small business is available now. To buy from scratch, Windows 10 home will be $119 USD
Windows 10 Pro will be $199 USD
and if you’ve already got Windows 10 home (or the free upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 home), to upgrade that to Windows 10 pro is $99 USD

I haven’t yet found any pricing information for Enterprise, presumably the idea is that if you are a business big enough and with systems which are mission critical enough to require Enterprise, then you negotiate a deal directly with Microsoft.

Features

There are plenty of articles about the features the new operating system will come with, I had a first look at Windows 10 a few weeks ago and will post a new update prior to the new Windows going live on 29 July.

Windows 10 Professional

As to features of the other versions, as well as everything you get in Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro also comes with:
– Domain Join Services
– BitLocker Drive Encryption
– Remote Access Services
– Group Policy editor
– Windows Update for Business

With most of those items, if you’re not sure what they are, you probably don’t need them.  Bitlocker drive encryption is one that might be of interest, essentially it’s an extra layer of security that means that even if someone were to get access to your hard drive, they wouldn’t be able to access the files without the encryption key.  It is arguable whether it is the most secure encryption method though it is likely the best option for most average users.

Enterprise

As well as everything you get in Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise comes with:

– Long Term Servicing Branch
– Device Guard – help protect against the ever-growing range of modern security threats targeted at devices, identities, applications and sensitive company information

Education

In turn, Windows 10 Education builds on Windows 10 Enterprise, and is designed to meet the needs of schools – staff, administrators, teachers and students. This edition will be available through academic Volume Licensing, and there will be paths for schools and students using Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro devices to upgrade to Windows 10 Education.

The ‘branches’

The Long Term Servicing Branch

The Long Term Servicing branch (only available to Windows 10 Enterprise customers) will continue to get latest and greatest security updates and enterprise grade support, but the feature updates that will be pushed to normal customers will not be provided during the support lifecycle of the OS. This branch is aimed at businesses who cannot compromise on stability and can do without the cutting edge features.

On Long Term Servicing branches, customers will have the flexibility to deliver security updates and fixes via Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) which allows full control over the internal distribution of updates using existing management solutions such as System Center Configuration Manager or to receive these updates automatically via Windows Update.

The Current Branch for Business.

Businesses opting for the Current Branch on the other hand will be able to get the feature updates from the consumer versions but at a later date, once the features have been tested by Windows Insiders and guaranteed to not break compatibility.

By the time Current branch for Business machines are updated, the changes will have been validated by millions of Insiders, consumers and customers’ internal test processes for several months, allowing updates to be deployed with this increased assurance of validation.

System administrators will be have the flexibility to choose the updates that they would like to deploy in their operating environments, giving further control over the overall stability and compatibility of the Windows 10 installations.

This is great news as it reflects the fact that Microsoft is giving a lot of thought to Windows 10 as a Service and Windows 10 business Requirements.

Home branch

There isn’t a nice neat description by Microsoft for this, but reading from the Professional description above the feature upgrades will be sent out to home consumers along with the security and other updates, and once they’ve been found to be stable after a couple of months (possibly involving one or more patches along the way to fix issues found), then they will be sent out to Pro and Enterprise users on the current branch for business.

Windows insiders

There is one more branch which is designed for the technically minded who do love to be early adopters and don’t mind testing out features and finding bugs. The Windows Insider program allows users to get advance copies of “beta” versions of Windows features before they are sent out toe Windows home and then other users. This is not designed for use on your primary PC, but rather on a second or “testing” PC.
It’s free to join the Windows Insiders program

Enterprise pricing

Windows 10 Enterprise pricing seems hard to come by: Microsoft goes into a lot of detail about all the many benefits you get by being an Enterprise customer but not so much the price, although it does appear to be on a year by year basis and I expect would likely work out more expensive than other options for the average user.  Although you get the long term stability branch which would be attractive to some, I would HOPE that adaptive technology companies, (and others who make all the other third party software people use) would be able to keep up at least with the “current branch for business” update stream.

If you’re interested in Microsoft’s newest toy, for everyone who wants an 84″ Surface Pro hub, for all your enterprise employee collaboration needs, will set you back a cool $19,999.  If the price of a family car is a bit much for a tablet, then perhaps you will be tempted by the more modest 55″ model, for which you will only need to part with $6,999.

More to come in future entries, but with that extra information, which version of Windows 10 will you be aiming for?

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