Windows 8 Pro: Upgrade Benefits Explained

Dennis Faas's picture

Here's a question we recently received from an Infopackets subscriber in beautiful Montana,

"Dear Infopackets team,

I'm thinking about buying a Windows 8 computer. But I'm not sure if I should buy one with Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro? And what's Windows RT?

Can you please explain the differences to me?

Thanks for the assistance,

Molly C."

My response:

Technically speaking, Molly, those are the three different versions of Microsoft's newest operating system (OS), Windows 8.

Windows RT is a trimmed-down version of the OS specially designed for portable devices with ARM chips. We're talking about tablet computers here, including the new Microsoft Surface.

Most new laptop and desktop computers with Windows 8 are running the standard version of the OS, simply called 'Windows 8,' while some are fitted with a more powerful version called Windows 8 Pro.

The best way to explain the differences is to focus on what you get with a Windows 8 Pro upgrade.

Windows 8 Pro: Extra Features Explained

Arguably the most valuable extra you get with Windows 8 Pro is BitLocker and a portable version of the same program called BitLocker to Go.

BitLocker allows you to encrypt an entire hard drive, making it virtually impossible for someone without your permission to access your files. BitLocker to Go is very similar, but protects files on a portable USB flash drive.

Both are particularly effective in cases where your computer and / or USB thumb drive are stolen. Because the associated drives are encrypted, a thief will have almost no chance of accessing your stored data.

Windows 8 Pro also provides users with Domain Join and Group Policy, tools for business users.

Domain Join makes it easy for a system administrator to grant network users access to special resources within a managed Windows environment.

Group Policy determines how those resources can be used within that Windows environment, and can also be used by IT administrators to manage system passwords.

Windows 8 Pro also supports Remote Desktop sessions.

Sure, any Windows 8 computer can remotely access PCs or servers, but only Windows 8 Pro allows you to let others remotely access your PC.

Boot Into Windows 7 or Windows 8 with Boot from VHD

Windows 8 Pro also features 'Boot from VHD' (Virtual Hard Disk). This program allows you to create a virtual hard disk on your existing physical hard disk. You can use this VHD to contain a separate installation of Windows.

For example, if you own a Windows 7 Ultimate computer and want to test out Windows 8 Pro, you can create a separate, virtual hard disk and install Windows 8 on it. Then you can boot your computer into either Windows 7 or Windows 8, as you prefer.

Finally, Windows 8 Pro gives users the ability to upgrade to Windows Media Center, Microsoft's own multimedia software for watching DVDs and Blu-rays.

For a limited time, owners of Windows 8 Pro can upgrade to Windows Media Center at no cost. To find out more about this offer, click here.

BitLocker, Domain Join, Group Policy, Remote Desktop, Boot from VHD, and Windows Media Center are not needed by every Windows user. But if you can benefit from them, they represent great reasons to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.

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