What is the difference between Windows XP Professional Edition and Windows XP Home Edition?

A. With Windows XP, the two Windows OS lines merge, so we'll no longer have Windows 2000/Windows NT and Windows Me/Windows 98—just Windows XP. However, we still have two different types of users: the office user and the basic home user with one machine. Hence the two versions of Windows XP: Windows XP Professional Edition, for those accustomed to Win2K Professional/NT Workstation, and Windows XP Home Edition, for those accustomed to Windows Me/Win98.

Although the XP Pro and Home Editions share the same common core code, they don't have the same features. The right version for you depends on the functionality you need. Think of XP Pro as a superset of XP Home. Below is a short list of supported features:

  • Backup—XP Pro has the standard Win2K backup program; XP Home has no backup program.
  • Dynamic Disks—XP Pro supports dynamic disks; XP Home doesn't.
  • IIS—XP Pro includes IIS; XP Home doesn't.
  • Encrypted File System (EFS)—EFS debuted in Win2K and lets you encrypt files on an NTFS partition, a very useful feature for mobile machines. XP Pro includes EFS; XP Home doesn't.
  • Multiprocessor—XP Pro supports up to two processors; XP Home supports only one (as did Windows Me/Win98).
  • Remote Assistance—Both editions support Remote Assistance, which lets someone from a Help desk connect to the client desktop to troubleshoot problems.
  • Remote Desktop—XP Pro adds to Remote Assistance by letting any machine running a Terminal Services client run one Terminal Services session against an XP Pro machine.
  • Domain Membership—XP Pro systems can be domain members; XP Home systems can't, but they can access domain resources.
  • Group Policy—XP Pro supports group policies; XP Home doesn't.
  • IntelliMirror—XP Pro supports IntelliMirror, which includes Microsoft Remote Installation Services (RIS), software deployment, and user setting management; XP Home doesn't support IntelliMirror.
  • Upgrade from Windows Me/Win98—Both XP Pro and XP Home support this upgrade.
  • Upgrade from Win2K/NT—Only XP Pro supports this upgrade.
  • 64-bit Support—Only XP Pro will have a 64-bit version that supports the Itanium systems.
  • Network Support—XP Pro includes support for Network Monitor, SNMP, IP Security (IPSec), and the Client Services for NetWare (CSNW); XP Home doesn't.

For the best list of supported features, see the Feature Guide document (featguid.doc) on the root of the XP CD-ROM.

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