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Windows XP:
Home Edition or Professional?

Joe Brazell is the President-Elect of Alamo PC Organization.

Windows XP is on the market and has many people asking questions. Besides the issue of whether you should upgrade is which system you should upgrade to. Windows XP has combined the functionality of the Windows 9x series and the Windows NT series to provide a very stable platform. Both the Home Edition and the Professional Edition use the same core systems based on the Windows NT technology used by business because of its stability. Since they have merged the two operating systems into one new core system, the question of which one to purchase has become more difficult for many people to answer.
Which One's Best for You?
Feature Home Pro

New User Interface yes yes
32 Bit Kernal yes yes
Network Setup Wizard yes yes
Adv Laptop Support yes yes
Wireless Connectivity yes yes
Remote Desktop no yes
Offline Files & Folders no yes
Fast Startup yes yes
Power Mgt Improvements yes yes
Multi-tasking yes yes
Multiple Processors no yes
Internet Firewall yes yes
IE 6 Privacy Support yes yes
Encrypting File System no yes
Access Control no yes
Centralized Admin no yes
Group Policy no yes
SW Install & Maint Mgt no yes
Roaming User Profiles no yes
Remote Installation Svc no yes
Single Worldwide Binary yes yes
Multilingual User Interface no yes
For many home users the answer will still be the Home Edition but for people who run multiple computers at home, have a laptop or wish to better secure their information they may want to get the professional edition. Both systems provide the new user interface, stability and new features of Windows XP. However, the following features are only available in the Professional Addition:
  • Remote Desktop 

  • Remotely access your desktop from another desktop or your laptop.
  • Offline Files and Folders 

  • Mark files on a network drive to be available to you offline. This is great when traveling with a laptop and you share files through a common drive on a server or PC.
  • Multiple Processor Support 

  • If you have a high-end computer with multiple processors you must get the Professional Edition.
  • Encrypt your data 

  • Great for further protecting your data without having to buy an additional third party software product.
  • Control access to files 

  • With multiple people using a computer or sharing files on a network, the XP Professional allows you to specify which users can see which files and directories.
  • Centralized administration 

  • Probably won’t apply to most home users. This allows computers connected to a network domain to take advantage of a wide variety of management and security tools.
  • Group Policies 

  • Primarily used on business systems to help simplify administration of groups and users.
  • Automated software installation and maintenance 

  • Used by system administrators to install, configure, modify and repair software used by groups of people.
  • Roaming User Profiles 

  • Allows a person on a network to log on to different computers and have all of their preferences and settings stay with them.
The final deciding factor for some will be the cost. Windows XP Professional will cost about $100 more than the Home Edition. The “upgrade path” will also be important for some people. If you are running Windows NT or 2000 you can only upgrade to the Professional Edition. If you run Windows 98, 98SE, or ME (Millennium Edition) you can upgrade to either version. If you still use Windows 95, you must buy the full version. The suggested retail price for the full XP Professional is $299 or $199 for upgrades. XP Home Edition has a suggested retail price of $199 or $99 for the upgrade. Typically most people will still find that XP Professional is for business use and the Home Edition will meet the needs of most home users. But if you are a road warrior with a laptop or have multiple PCs and want some added protection for your files you should consider getting XP Professional.

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