Your business PC is not your home PC.
I was recently reminded of this particular mistake when I received a call from a document imaging tech, trying to install some software on a client’s PC. The software requires certain features of Windows XP Professional. Unfortunately, the client’s PC had Windows XP Home.
Microsoft makes at least two flavors of its desktop operating systems. XP had Home and Professional; Vista has two Home editions, one Business edition, and an Ultimate edition with all the features. The soon-to-be-released Windows 7 will follow the same trend, with Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions.
Many small and medium businesses buy computers off the shelf, at their local Staples or Best Buy. These retail outlets carry many more home PCs than business computers. There is a price difference between a computer that comes with a home operating system and one geared toward business, so a lot of home PCs end up in offices.
You may wonder what the difference is between a home edition and a business edition of Windows. They look the same, and they even act the same—most of the time.
The simplest answer is the Business/Professional editions are designed to be used in a business environment. They have features (mostly behind the scenes) that help them to work better on a network with other computers.
If that’s the limit of what you want to know, stop reading now and just trust me that business computing is a lot smoother when you have business computers in place. If you want to get a little more technical, read on.
The biggest difference between Home and Business editions is that the home editions cannot join a Windows domain. A domain is a grouping of computers into a hierarchy, controlled by a server. With a domain, security and management tasks are performed once and then propagated to all member computers. This might not be a concern with two or three computers, but once you get more than six or seven, the administration costs start to add up.
That doesn’t mean that small networks should be using Home edition though. The Business editions come with built-in remote control software. They also share files more readily. From the example at the top of this post, they have other features that you don’t know you’re missing until you go to install a piece of software or hardware that was never intended for home use.
Remember, there is a difference between a home PC and a business PC. Some of the differences are in the hardware as well, but that’s another subject, for another post.
For comparisons of the Windows desktop OS features, see the links below.