Windows 7 Home Premium vs. Windows 7 Professional

What are the differences between Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional?

People often ask us which version of Windows they should purchase for their new PC build. Generally speaking Windows 7 Home Premium Edition has everything that most end users would need for normal day-to-day usage of their PC. There is no use in paying extra for Windows 7 Professional Edition if the added features will be of no benefit to you. Here is a list of the major differences between Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional.

Memory support

Home Premium: 16GB of physical memory supported
Professional: 192GB of physical memory supported

(*64-bit editions only.)

Recent tests of a mid range Windows 7 based PC with configurations of 4GB, 8GB and 16GB of system memory have shown only a marginal overall performance benefit between 8GB and 4GB. No performance improvement was evident when moving from 8GB to 16GB, therefore I do not see the 16GB physical memory limitation of Home Edition to be an issue when choosing an operating system.

Backup and restore

Home Premium: Limited to local HDD or DVD
Professional: Local HDD, DVD and Network

The Backup and Restore centre was first introduced in Windows Vista and provides users with the ability to back up files, folders, libraries or even their complete hard drive. Backups can be automatically scheduled by the user to any frequency they like. The only limitation on Windows 7 Home Premium Edition is that it cannot backup data to a network location such as a network-attached storage device (NAS), another PC on the network, or to a network server. Full hard drive backup can be performed by choosing the “Create a system Image” option. This image can be used as a complete disaster recovery option (as long as the image is not stored on your operating system drive). In the event of a mechanical failure or data corruption on the Operating System drive in the PC the “system image” can be restored to a new HDD and your PC can be back up and running in an hour or two, complete with all data and programs intact.

Read More: Windows 7 Review: Windows 7 gets the basics right

Encrypting File System

Home Premium: No
Professional: Yes

Encrypting File System (EFS) enables transparent encryption of files and/or folders, directly from within Windows Explorer, adding a layer of security to sensitive files or folders and preventing access to these files or folders by unauthorised users or programs not in possession of the appropriate cryptographic key. Any files placed in an encrypted folder will automatically be encrypted. Encrypted folders and files will be displayed in green in windows explorer.

Location Aware Printing

Home Premium:
Professional:

This feature is particularly useful for laptops, netbooks or other portable devices which move between different networks. Windows will automatically keep track of the different networks and remember which printers are available on each of them. This saves you the trouble of having to reassign the default printer you wish to use, every time you connect to a different network, as windows will switch to the last default printer you used on any particular network. You even have the option of manually presetting which printer you would like to use on each network.

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Remote Desktop Host

Home Premium: No
Professional: Yes

Windows 7 Professional can host a remote desktop session, basically allowing a remote PC to connect and take control over the host, as if you were actually sitting in front of the host PC and using it. This type of feature is quite handy for instance if you wish to connect to your work PC from home, to continue with some unfinished business from earlier in the day.

Presentation Mode

Home Premium: No
Professional: Yes

Presentation mode is designed to temporarily alter some of the power saving and notification aspects of your normal desktop environment. You can configure the screen saver to not come on during presentation mode. You can use a different desktop wallpaper during presentation mode. (It may be inappropriate to have your favourite movie star flashing up on the screen during your presentation!) You can also preset the system volume to a specific level while in presentation mode. Presentation mode can also prevent any annoying system messages or program popup notices from running.

Joining a domain

Home Premium: No
Professional: Yes

This feature is not necessary for the average home PC. If the PC is a portable device such as a laptop and needs to connect to a large corporate network, it may require the ability to join a Domain, which is a segmented group of computers on a larger network. In this instance Home Premium Edition would not be suitable.

Read More: Windows 7 vs Windows 8: What's the difference?

Windows XP Mode

Home Premium: No
Professional: Yes

This feature allows users to install Microsoft’s Virtual PC application and then install and run a complete fully licensed version of Windows XP SP3 from within the virtual PC environment. This feature was originally developed for businesses to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7, and give them an environment from which to continue using any older non–Windows 7 compatible software. It is not suitable for applications which require 3D graphics or hardware accelerated sound, so gaming or even using your old TV tuner to watch TV are definite no-nos

As you can see from these explanations, the additional features present in the Professional Edition of Windows 7 are focused more on a business style or corporate workplace environment, and are not generally necessary for the average home PC user.

Glenn Howlett is the general manager of DCA Computer Technologies a computer retailer and support provider. Read more articles at the DCA Computers blog, follow DCA Computers on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.