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How to choose Windows for business?

Knowing the many advantages of Microsoft Windows, you may want to use it in your own company, but feel unsure which of its many versions is most suitable for you. Choosing the best Windows for business can pose a challenge, but we are here to assist you.

Our article will highlight the top three Windows 11 versions for businesses and compare their features. We will also take a look at their advantages for different types of enterprises. This article can serve as a valuable resource to you, if you want to educate yourself before purchasing your new operating system license.

Windows 11: Three Versions Best Suited for Businesses

There is a growing demand for good software in the business world, so Microsoft has developed a few different versions of Windows 11 specifically for the business needs - satisfying small entrepreneurs and corporations alike.

The editions most suitable for business needs are Windows 11 Pro, Windows 11 Pro for Workstations, and Windows 11 Enterprise. There are significant differences between these versions, though. Making sure you know which one is the best fit for you before you make any decision is what we recommend.

Windows 11: Pro vs Pro for Workstations vs Enterprise

Windows 11 Pro is designed to be a cost-effective and efficient solution, and is the most popular option for small and medium-sized businesses. It offers advanced security features, including the strong and reliable BitLocker encryption and Windows Defender Antivirus as a standard. The remote desktop capabilities are higher than in the Home edition (meant for personal use). Moreover, Windows 11 Pro features Hyper-V, a platform that allows users to run virtual machines on their computers.

It is the most affordable option out of the three business-friendly Windows 11 versions. You can always upgrade to another operating system if your business grows enough to necessitate changes.

Windows 11 Pro for Workstations, on the other hand, is built for high-end computers, so it is better suited for companies that use powerful hardware and need something to handle intensive workloads. It includes everything that the Pro version has, but offers higher performance for heavier use with demanding applications and advanced devices, too.

Its advanced processing capabilities make it great for demanding users, like data scientists or graphic designers. SMB Direct allows for faster file transfer and more efficient network usage by utilizing remote direct memory access (RDMA) technology. Hence,enables accelerated file sharing, allowing for faster transfer of large files between workstations within the organization. Also, Pro for Workstations supports newest Microsoft’s file system (Resilient File System - ReFS) which is designed to maximize data availability, scale efficiently to large data sets across diverse workloads, and provide data integrity with resiliency to corruption.

If you run a small business that processes large amounts of data, or if you have to work on advanced graphic design, this version will likely fulfill your operating system needs.

Windows 11 Enterprise has a remarkably wide range of features and capabilities for large organizations with a bigger number of workers. Some of the things only included in this version are, for example, the virtual assistant Cortana, as well as Microsoft 365 Defender for Endpoint (with its multiple security tools).

This version of the system also introduces DirectAccess, which allows smooth and seamless remote access to the organization's network without necessitating the use of a VPN. You can also access Microsoft Office 365 version ProPlus with Enterprise.

It is a financially flexible option for businesses, as its price depends on the number of devices you will want to include in your plan. There are several options available, but the most popular Enterprise ones are Microsoft 365 E3 and E5.

Features and Capabilities of Different Windows 11 Versions

While all versions include the essentials like biometrics support, OneDrive backup, and the Windows Security app, the more advanced Windows 11 editions will offer you extra features that Windows 11 Pro does not have.

For you to have an overview of the core features and capabilities of different editions of Windows for business, we have created a comparison table:

Feature Windows 11 Pro Windows 11 Pro for Workstations Windows 11 Enterprise
Perpetual license Yes Yes No, it is licensed only on a subscription basis
Firewall Yes Yes Yes
Multifactor authentication Yes Yes Yes
Windows Defender Antivirus Yes Yes Yes
BitLocker encryption Yes Yes Yes
Resilient File System (RFS) Yes Yes Yes
Windows Information Protection (WIP) Yes Yes Yes
Handles high workload without issues No Yes Yes
DirectAccess No No Yes
Persistent Memory No Yes Yes
SMB Direct No Yes Yes
Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) access No No Yes
Shared calendar No No Yes
Enhanced file sharing options No No Yes
Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics No No Yes
Azure Active Directory Premium No No Yes

The number of devices on which you can install and use your Windows 11, as well as the number of simultaneous users, depends on the license type. In the OEM versions, the license key is bound to a specific device. It is different for retail and volume licences, though.

What Kind of Windows 11 License Do You Need?

Windows 11 offers a retail license, which is intended for a small number of users and are not bound to particular devices, but rather to users. This means if you deactivate the license on one computer, you can activate it on another. It comes in handy when you have to replace a device but want to keep the operating system you have already paid for.

Volume licenses are an option, too. These are usually used by bigger companies that need to manage multiple installations at the same time. The final price will depend on the number of devices you want to activate the operating system on. 

The license can also be a perpetual one, which is everlasting and can be used without any time limitations, or a non-perpetual one, which is usually subscription-based. As stated in the table above, non-perpetual licenses are only available for Windows Pro and Windows Pro for Workstations. Windows 11 Enterprise is only available through subscription.

Which Windows 11 Version Should You Choose?

One of the parameters that has the biggest influence on the choice is the size of your operations. A large company operating in a busy industry will need something different than a self-employed software developer. Let's take a closer look at what is  the best Windows for business in different scenarios.

Windows Pro for Small Businesses

If you are running a one-person business or have a small team, we recommend Windows Pro. It is an affordable choice that will not only provide you with the essential features but also offer plenty of more advanced options that a Home edition lacks.

A Windows license for small business needs is reasonably priced and offers a good value for the money. Hardware requirements of this version are quite reasonable, and will likely not require you to upgrade your current devices. It will be perfect for home offices and small companies that do not need advanced features and have a smaller budget.

Remember, that you can always scale up and upgrade to a higher edition if your business grows. For example, the subscription activation feature in Windows Pro allows you to transition to an Enterprise edition seamlessly.

Options for Medium-sized Businesses

For medium-sized businesses, there are more variables that come into play when choosing the best Windows 11 version. The number of employees and the IT infrastructure the company already has in place will greatly impact the decision.

While for one medium business Windows 11 Pro might be just enough with its more basic features, another company will require something more robust. Consider the type of industry your business operates in before making the choice.

If you need something that will run well on advanced hardware or will effectively use large amounts of RAM, Windows 11 Pro for Workstation will be a better fit. It is better for companies that have to deal with massive amounts of data, such as financial organizations and research facilities.

That being said, the Pro for Workstations edition is more expensive and may not be necessary for medium-sized businesses that do not rely on very high performance. Consider your financial resources and the specific requirements before making any decision.

Large-scale Businesses: Choose Windows 11 Enterprise

For corporations and large businesses, the choice is easier to make. With its enhanced security, high manageability and cloud integration it is perfect for companies that need the highest level of control and data safety.

This version is the one offering the highest scalability and can easily accommodate a growing number of users. Additionally, it facilitates compatibility with legacy applications, such as inventory management systems and CRMs, which makes it simpler for organizations to continue using older software they want to keep.

With its virtual machine capabilities and advanced networking features, Windows 11 Enterprise is ideal for large-scale operations. It is the most expensive option, but the cost is justified by the capabilities of this system version.

You can always downgrade to another edition if you find Enterprise to be too costly or overwhelming.

How to Choose the Right Version of Windows for Your Business?

Whether you are a solopreneur, a medium business, or a big corporation owner, there is an option for you and your requirements. Once you take all the factors in consideration, making the choice will be easier, but the final decision is yours to make. 

Having the knowledge about the differences between the Pro, Pro for Workstations and Enterprise editions will surely aid you in the process of choosing the best Windows for business like yours.