With the rollout of Windows 11 last fall, now’s the time for organizations to evaluate whether to migrate to the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system.
But before investing time, personnel, and equipment to deploying the latest OS version, tech leaders need to decide on the right fit for their organizations. To kickstart this process, here’s what you need to know about Windows 11 and its business licensing options.
“Windows is the leading desktop operating system, with more than 72% of the market share worldwide.” Statista
Windows 11 vs. Windows 10: What’s New?
Although Windows 11 has given the OS a facelift, there are no major changes under the surface.
“Windows 11 brings a new user experience, but for now it is mostly still Windows 10 code, allowing for upgrades without any major customer investment in resources or new equipment,” according to Stephen Kleynhans in a Gartner blog post.1
When comparing Windows 10 vs. Windows 11, however, users will notice:
- Refreshed user experience
- Improved performance
- Increased focus on zero-trust security
- The replacement of Skype by Microsoft Teams as the standard collaboration tool
- Removal of Internet Explorer and replacement with Edge as the internet browser
Before planning a migration, IT administrators will have to verify that devices meet the minimum hardware requirements and choose among the different editions of the operating system.
Windows 11 requirements include:
- Processor: 1 GHz or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or SoC
- RAM: 4 GB
- Storage: 64 GB or larger
- System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
- Graphic cards: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
- Display: High-definition (720p) display that is greater than 9 inches diagonally, 8 bits per color channel
The list of Windows operating systems includes:
- Windows 11 Home
- Windows 11 for Education
- Windows 11 Pro
- Windows 11 Pro for Workstations
- Windows 11 Enterprise
But what about the key differences between Windows 11 Pro and Windows 11 Enterprise — two popular business-oriented editions? Here are a few things to consider when comparing Windows Pro vs. Enterprise:
Additional Windows 11 Features
The main difference among Windows editions is the number of features that come with the platform. Some editions have extra features targeting specific use cases. For example:
- Windows Pro is designed for professionals and businesses environments and, for this reason, has features not included in the Home edition.
- Windows Pro for Workstations targets professionals with advanced computing needs, such as data scientists, media editors, and graphic designers.
- In addition to the Pro features, Windows Enterprise has features designed for IT organizations.
Another major difference between Pro and Enterprise editions has to do with licensing:
- Windows 11 Pro can come pre-installed with the purchase of a new PC. Microsoft is also offering a free upgrade to Windows 11 for devices that meet the hardware requirements.
- Windows 11 Enterprise is part of Microsoft 365 Enterprise, which provides productivity and collaboration apps, device management, and security services. This edition of Windows requires the purchase of a volume-licensing agreement.
The Difference between Windows Enterprise E3 and E5
There are two distinct license editions with the Windows operating system:
- Windows Enterprise E3 is designed for mid-size and large companies with comprehensive management and advanced security requirements.
- Windows Enterprise E5 targets organizations interested in having the benefits of a holistic, cloud-delivered endpoint security solution.
Windows Enterprise vs. Pro: Key Features
Here’s a quick rundown of features you can find in Windows Pro and Enterprise editions:
| ||Windows 11 Pro||Windows 11 Enterprise E3|| Enterprise E3 Windows 11 Enterprise E5|
|Mobile Device Management||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Mobile Application Management||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Azure Active Directory||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Azure Virtual Desktop||✔️||✔️|
|Microsoft 365 Defender Threat Protection (Antimalware, Firewall, Exploit Guard, Credential Guard)||✔️||✔️|
|Microsoft Defender for Endpoint||✔️|
|Microsoft 365 apps on Windows||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|BitLocker and BitLocker to Go||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Windows Information Protection||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Windows Hello for Business||✔️||✔️||✔️|
And here’s a closer look at these features:
- Mobile Device Management (MDM) helps to monitor all enterprise mobile devices at once. Admins can configure devices and apply security policies.
- Mobile Application Management (MAM) helps to protect an organization’s data within an application. IT can monitor, configure, update, and secure mobile apps for users.
- Cortana is the virtual assistant loaded in Windows 11. Cortana is compatible with multiple languages and uses voice commands to assist in daily tasks, such as web searches. Cortana enterprise services meet organizations’ compliance and security needs. Admins can configure Cortana and set group policies.
- Support for Azure Active Directory enables single login across Windows 11 and other Microsoft services, making it easier to manage passwords.
- Azure Virtual Desktop is a desktop and application virtualization service managed by Microsoft.
- Universal Print is a cloud-based solution that allows IT teams to manage printers via a centralized hub. Users can print securely from anywhere.
- Remote Desktop lets users unlock and access files, folders, and apps just the way they left them, anywhere and from virtually any device.
- Secure Score is a measurement of a company’s security posture.
- Microsoft 365 Defender is an enterprise security suite with applications that take automatic measures to prevent or stop attacks.
- Microsoft Defender for Endpoint helps detect, investigate, and mitigate advanced threats in enterprise networks.
- Microsoft 365 Apps on Windows are productivity software (such as Word and Excel) available for users, families, and businesses under different plans.
- BitLocker is an encryption feature available in some editions of Windows. Bitlocker to Go is used for removable devices such as USB memory sticks and external drivers.
- Windows Information Protection helps to prevent accidental or intentional data leaks.
- DirectAccess allows remote access to virtual environments without the need for a traditional virtual private network (VPN).
- Windows Hello enables biometric authentication (such as face or fingerprint recognition) to unlock compatible Windows devices.
- Microsoft Store offers applications for download. Microsoft Store for Business — which enables admins to control which apps users download in their organization — will be retired in 2023. Microsoft has linked the Microsoft Store for Business to Intune cloud services.
How to Plan a Large-Scale Windows Upgrade
When migrating to any new operating system or license tier, there are some vital questions to answer:
- Is this a good fit for our users?
- How many users will need to be migrated?
- What kind of devices do we have now and what are their specifications? Are upgrades needed?
The problem is finding the right answers quickly and efficiently to avoid deployment complications, unnecessary costs, and other headaches. With a digital experience management platform such as Lakeside Software’s Digital Experience Cloud, powered by SysTrack, however, IT teams can assess their digital environments and plan a large-scale Windows migration without a lot of guesswork. (In fact, Lakeside will release a kit in Q1 2022 to help organizations fully assess their Windows 11 readiness and streamline the migration process, but more on that in a different post.)
By expanding IT visibility with endpoint data, IT teams can inventory their hardware and software licenses, identify equipment limitations, make procurement decisions based on users’ actual needs, plan rollouts by personas or user groups, and monitor and manage deployments.
So no matter where you are in your Windows journey — or in any other migration project — you have the data to make more informed, cost-effective decisions that move your IT organization forward.
1. Gartner, “Positioning Windows 11 and Preparing to Deploy,” Stephen Kleynhans, 9 September 2021 ↩
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