Upgrade Windows Home to Pro | No Reinstall
When we installed Windows Vista or Windows 7 on our computer, we could choose from a wide variety of different editions. Depending on the use we were going to make of the equipment, and what we wanted to pay, we could choose between an edition like the Home Basic, very simple, or a Ultimate with all the functions and features available to the users. This was often confusing, and for this reason with the arrival of Windows 10, Microsoft decided to simplify things. Now we only have the edition Home, for home users, or the edition Professional for advanced users.
La Windows Home edition it is considerably cheaper than the Professional edition. This is the one that is usually installed by default when we buy a new OEM computer (except in very specific cases), and it is also the one that most users who have gone from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 have by updating the license. It must be taken into account that the majority of end users have the home edition Windows. In fact, for these, at least for almost all of them, this edition is more than enough. However, the needs in this sense vary a bit if we focus on the market and the way of business or more professional use.
In this case, it could be interesting to install and use the Pro, for example. This is largely due to some of the features available in this edition, but not found in the Home. These additional functions that we refer to here are both functional and security-focused.
What Windows do I have installed?
If we have manually purchased the operating system license, or if we have been the ones who have installed Windows, we will surely know which edition we have installed. However, if we don't know, there are several very easy ways to find out. Doubts can enter us, for example, in the event that we have acquired a new PC, either new or second-hand, where the edition of the installed system was not specified.
Therefore, one of the fastest is to look at the sticker on our PC. If your computer came with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 installed, it should be there if you're using the Home version or the Pro version, although sometimes it only shows the Windows version number, and sometimes it can also show the Windows version number. license code, code that gives us no clue about the version of Windows we have installed.
If this is not the case, or if you do not have the sticker handy, the other very easy way to check the version and edition of Windows that we are using is to run the command «winner». This will allow us to see, in addition to the version of Windows that we have installed, the edition to which it corresponds. For those who do not know what we are talking about, comment that this is a command that quickly shows us everything we need to know about the edition and version of the system. This is done through a new window that shows us on the screen. To achieve this that we are discussing, all we have to do is write the aforementioned Winver command, in the operating system's search box.
We can also consult it from the Configuration menu of the operating system. To consult it in this way, what we must do is open this menu (using the Win + I keyboard shortcut), and go to the “System> About” section. Here, within "Windows Specifications", we can see the edition that we have installed, both in Windows 10 and Windows 11.
Finally, in the case of Windows 10 (this method does not work in Windows 11) we can also open the computer properties window to also see the edition, along with other interesting information about our computer.
Differences between the “Home” edition and the “Pro”
Most users probably don't mind using one edition or the other, as the more advanced features may not require them. However, there are important changes between the two versions, and some advanced user may need to resort to some of the following features:
- BitLocker for encryption of hard drives and SSD drives. This function is designed to add a password to the drives that we connect to the computer, drives that are impossible to access without that password, so we must use this function always remembering the access password. The best thing is to use an application to manage them and that is accessible from PC and smartphone. With the release of Windows 11 and the need for the TPM chip, the BitLocker feature is not only limited to the Pro version but is also available in the Home version, removing this feature as a differentiator between the Home and Pro versions of Windows 11.
- Windows Information Protection (WIP). This functionality is being discontinued by Microsoft and is designed to prevent accidental data loss on enterprise devices through apps and services. Furthermore, it also allows users to independently separate their personal and work-related data without the need to switch devices or environments.
- Virtualization of operating systems with Hyper-V. Otherwise, we can use both VirtualBox and WMware, in its free version, two applications that allow us to emulate any Windows operating system, regardless of its type of version.
- Remote Desktop (RDP). This function allows you to connect to other equipment and connect them remotely, regardless of whether they are managed by the Home or Pro version. However, the possibility of turning the equipment into a device to which we can connect is only available in the Pro version, Education and for Companies.
- Functions and characteristics when working in work domains.
With Windows 11, things have been simplified a lot, differentiating the "Home" much more, the domestic one, with the "Pro", for professionals and companies. The only two differences between these two editions of Windows are, on the one hand, the possibility of encrypt the device with BitLocker, something that only users of the Pro edition will be able to do, as well as access to enterprise management and deployment features, such as Azure, group policies, Store and Update for enterprises and more. Therefore, unless we are a company, it makes less and less sense to pay the extra cost of the Pro edition having such a complete Home.
Is it really worth going Pro?
When we buy a new computer, most of the time it comes with the "Home" edition installed by default. This edition is cheaper and allows users to save costs in exchange for limiting the use of certain functions. The Home and Pro edition work, at the level of performance and security, the same. The difference is the advanced options and tools they offer, tools that most home users don't really need.
So in the end, the question to ask before upgrading is: am I really going to use Hyper-V, BitLocker or Remote Desktop? Will I need to access group policies to modify them? Because if we don't need it and we can defend ourselves with free alternatives like VNC, VeraCrypt o VirtualBox we don't have to spend the money on the Pro edition license. A license that, furthermore, is not exactly cheap. But of course, in the event, as we mentioned before, that you are going to make more advanced and professional use of the PC, perhaps this additional outlay is well worth it.
Normally to change between one edition of Windows and another it is necessary to format the computer, since the operating system does not allow us to change from one to another to our liking. However, there is a small trick by which we will be able to upgrade from a Windows Home to the Professional version without formatting and without losing our data or configurations.
To do this, what we must do is go to the Windows activation section (within Settings> Update and security> Activation) and enter the new license by clicking on “Change the product key”. By entering the new key, the Pro edition will be activated, and the features of this edition will be automatically unlocked.
Windows Professional requirements
The requirements to be able to use a Pro edition on our computer are the same that we will need to be able to use the Home edition. The features of the operating system are the same, so we shouldn't have any problems using this edition if we're already running any other.
That is, what we must meet to be able to use this operating system is:
- 1 GHz or faster processor.
- 1 GB of RAM for a 10-bit Windows 32, or 2 GB for a 64-bit edition.
- 4 GB of RAM memory in the case of Windows 11.
- 16 GB of hard drive space for 32-bit, or 32 GB for 64-bit on Windows 10.
- 64 GB of space in Windows 11. Windows 11 is only available in 64-bit versions, so if we are thinking of installing it on an old computer that does not include a 64-bit processor, we can forget about it, since in addition, it will also not include the TPM chip or secure boot, other requirements necessary to install Windows 11.
- DirectX 9 or later with a WDDM 1.0 driver.
- Screen with a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.
We are also going to need an Internet connection, since when we go from Windows Home to Pro, the operating system itself will download additional tools and features from the Internet.
How to upgrade from Windows Home to Professional edition
Microsoft allows us to easily switch between editions simply by changing the license key. To do this, all we have to do is open the Windows Settings menu from the start menu and we will go to the “Update and security"> "Activation", from where we will be able to change the key of the operating system.
To be able to change from one edition of Windows to another we will need the license key of the operating system. If we have it written down, no problem. If for some reason we don't have a license key, we can always buy an original Retail key at the Microsoft Store.
We recommend you avoid cheap Windows keys, since they are often illegal and, if we activate our Windows with them, they can stop working at any time. The price of a windows pro is 250 euros. An expensive price, but it is the official one. Otherwise, through those excessively cheap offers that we see on the Internet, we can end up losing the investment. In many cases, for a much lower price, we acquire a license of the Pro edition, but it will only work for a time, despite being promised that it is for life. After that time, when you run out of a Windows license, you probably don't even have anyone to claim.
Once we have our key, on the previous activation screen we will click on «Change product key» to enter the new password.
The Windows activation agent itself will recognize the new key and activate it. A few seconds later, and after restarting the computer, we will already have our system in its Professional edition, with all the functions and features available. And since we have not formatted, all our data remains as is.
This trick is only valid for upgrade from Windows Home to the Professional version of the operating system. Going from Pro to Home wouldn't really make much sense. And, furthermore, we cannot do the same to go to the edition "Enterprise" of this operating system. To do this, we will have to perform a complete format of the computer and reinstall the new version from scratch. With its corresponding license.
VersionSwitcher is an open source program, and completely free, that will also allow us to go from a Windows Home to a Pro without having to buy or enter any password on our PC. This program takes advantage of KMS activation (with Microsoft public keys) to be able to change the edition of our system just by double-clicking on a .bat script.
The changes that this program allows us to make are:
- Home -> Pro, Education VL, Enterprise VL
- Pro -> Pro VL, Education VL, Enterprise VL
- Pro VL -> Pro, Education VL, Enterprise VL
- Education VL -> Pro, Pro VL, Enterprise VL
- Enterprise VL -> Pro, Pro VL, Education VL
This script should work flawlessly on both Windows 10 and Windows 11. However, as it hasn't been changed or updated since 2020, we can't guarantee that it will work well on the latest Microsoft system. However, if what we want is only to change the edition in Windows 10, this is, without a doubt, the easiest way to do it.
And what about Windows 11 Home and Pro?
Microsoft's new operating system is still an updated and improved version of Windows 10. And, therefore, they share all kinds of features, including the differences between the Home and Pro versions.
The main difference between Windows 11 Home and Pro is that Home edition users will now need to be connected to the Internet, and use a Microsoft Account, to create a new user on the PC. This is how we say goodbye to offline accounts, something that will only be available in the Pro editions of Windows.
With the mandatory TPM 2.0 chip in Windows 11, in theory, the BitLocker limitation should have been removed from the Home version, however, Microsoft continues to limit that feature to the Pro version. Although this chip is not really required, having it offers greater security when it comes to encrypting the data on the computer to prevent third parties who can access the storage unit from decrypting the files.
Otherwise, the rest of the differences remain more or less the same. The Pro version is focused on companies, ready to join Active Directory domains, supports Remote Desktop and allows you to use Hyper-V virtualization, functions that are not available in the Home editions of the operating system. However, if we may need them at any given time, we can use third-party applications that offer us the same functionalities and, furthermore, for free.