Wednesday, June 27, 2018

4 Features of Windows Versions to Know Before Buying - Part 2

In our last post, 4 Features of Windows Versions to Know Before Buying - Part 1, we discussed two main features you should be aware of before purchasing Windows 10 when considering the Home, Pro and Enterprise versions. These features included adding a device to a network and memory limitations. This week we continue this topic by discussing two additional features and an important bonus feature you should be aware of before purchasing your next Windows license.

4 Features of Windows Versions to Know Before Buying

Bitlocker to encrypt the drive

If you plan to purchase a laptop, or if it will ever be used to hold private information, whether it is your own or someone else's information, it is a good idea to encrypt the drive. Encrypting the drive protects all the data on it if the device falls into the wrong hands, is lost or stolen. Bitlocker, an encryption software, is included in the Professional and Enterprise versions and can encrypt both traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs). 

NOTE: Encryption does NOT protect against misuse of passwords. If you use simple passwords or have passwords written in plain site, encryption will not protect your files!

Auto VPN connector

Devices that connect to other networks, such as those that are used for business, often use virtual private networks, or VPN's, to connect. The purpose of a VPN is to create a private, encrypted tunnel between end user devices and network resources as the data travels across the internet. To use a VPN, a VPN network is created on an end user device with all the required connection and user information. When the network resources are needed, the user connects to the VPN network. The process is similar to connecting to a wireless network. Once connected, all traffic goes through the VPN until the user disconnects from the VPN. This includes internet traffic unless a split-VPN is set up as described in a previous post

However, Windows 10 Enterprise offers an automatic VPN connection feature. For example, when a user requests a file from a mapped drive, and that file exists on a network resource, an existing VPN will automatically connect to provide the requested file without the user manually connecting. This might seem like a small feature, but for mobile workers who often access company information from another location, it is far more efficient.

Bonus feature!

Licenses connected to the physical hardware

When a Windows 10 Home or Professional license is activated, it is connected to the physical hardware it resides on. If the physical hardware changes, the license is technically no longer valid. This means it is not within the license terms to re-use the license even if you are building a replacement because the original device died when using the Home or Professional versions.

For most users this is not an issue as devices typically last 4-6 years. After that amount of time the original operating system has surely been replaced by a newer version. However, if you were to install the operating system on an older device, or a new device was dropped or destroyed, replacing the license can be wasteful and expensive.

With the Enterprise version of Windows 10, the license is not connected to the physical hardware. As such, it is the version that makes the most sense when using virtualization. The Enterprise version easily handles being moved between physical servers as a virtual device and without invalidating the license. It might also make sense to purchase the Enterprise version if it were being installed on a machine temporarily.  

The grid below is a summary of the features discussed in both Part 1 and Part 2 and how they apply to the three main operating system versions.

When choosing an operating system version, consider some of the most important features before making a choice. From the amount of memory supported, to whether the device can connect to a network, to drive encryption, these features may affect your decision. The greater the features the greater the expense, but outgrowing a version and paying for the upgrade is more expensive than starting with the correct version to begin with and will always cost more time.

As always, the more information you have the better the likelihood that you will make the best choice for your unique situation. 

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