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What is the Difference Between Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise?

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 3/29/2010

Ever wondered what the difference between Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise is? This article explains each version of Windows, who it is used by, and some differences in features between the two.

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    Windows 7 Professional

    What is the difference between Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise? Windows 7 Professional is a consumer-based version of Windows that is marketed to everyone. Thus, you can go to your local Staples, Best Buy, or even Wal-Mart and pickup Windows 7 Professional. Professional is the middle version of Windows, falling between the other consumer-based versions Home Premium and Ultimate. Notably, Windows 7 Professional has the ability to run Windows XP Mode, use Domain Join, and network backup, which are not features included in Windows 7 Home Premium. Windows 7 Professional costs approximately $199.99 for an upgrade version and $299.99 for a full version.

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    Windows 7 Enterprise

    What is the difference between Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise? Windows 7 Enterprise is a corporate based version of Windows that is marketed to large corporations, medium to large size businesses, and web developers. Thus, you cannot go to your local Staples, Best Buy, or Wal-Mart and purchase Windows 7 Enterprise Edition. However, you can download a Release Candidate of Windows 7 Enterprise Edition here.

    Windows 7 Enterprise Edition has several features that Windows 7 Professional does not. Most notably, Windows 7 Enterprise Edition has BitLocker Drive Encryption, UNIX Application Support, and Multi Language Support.

    The main benefits that come with having Windows 7 Enterprise Edition are corporate benefits that some companies will provide to their employees. In order for a corporation to get Windows 7 Enterprise Edition, they must sign an agreement with Microsoft called a Microsoft Software Assurance contract, or MSA.

    Under this contract, the company can obtain several versions of Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise Edition without paying for all of them upfront. Instead, Microsoft puts the company under a standard payment plan, in which they have several years to pay for the software. Throughout those years, the company also gains the benefit of getting free updates on Windows 7 Enterprise Edition. For example, if a company was under an MSA contract and purchased Windows Vista Enterprise Edition, they would be eligible for upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise Edition.

    Other benefits include free Microsoft training, 24x7 tech support, exclusive rights to free software from Microsoft, extra copies, and more. In fact, certain contracts allow companies to give their employees free copies of Windows 7 Enterprise Edition that they can take home and use.

    Installation for Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise Edition works a bit differently as well. Because several companies have thousands of computers that they need Windows 7 installed on, a universal activation key works much better than having individual activation keys for each computer. Thus, Microsoft may give a company a VLK, or Volume License Key, which is capable of activating several copies of Windows.

    If that company did have to install a thousand copies of Windows onto all of their workstations, they would not get a thousand install discs from Microsoft. Rather, maybe a couple hundred that would be guaranteed to work on multiple computers.