Buying a new computer these days, chances are, it will come pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium Edition. That makes sense from the vendor’s standpoint, as the license for Home Premium costs less and it still has most of the functionality and features that the average user will want. But what if you aren’t the average user?
Looking to Upgrade? How to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 7 Professional
Some Vendors only offer the Windows 7 Starter Edition, which in my point of view is a sham to make you pay even more money for your computer. Steer away from these offers I say – unless of course you enjoy NOT being able to change your wallpaper – ever again.
Upgrade on Demand
Buying the computer online (from Dell or HP etc.), you can order it with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate – but not without the additional cost; you’ll have to pay for that upgrade (Dell charge from $130-$150 Depending on version). Buying from a store, your upgrade choice is the Anytime Upgrade program ($89.95 for Pro or $139.95 for Ultimate).
Is Ultimate, a “must have” ?
Before you shell out the extra money, you might want to first consider why you want or need the higher cost edition. Is it just that one feature you “need” – then, there might be a less expensive way to get its equivalent while still running Windows 7 Home Premium. Let’s take a look at some of the important features that are missing in Home Premium and how you can add similar functionality without upgrading the OS.
Remote Desktop Service
Home Premium has the Remote Desktop Client, letting you connect your HOME computer to another systems desktop, but you are unable to use the Remote Desktop Protocol.
If you are in dire need of a Remote Desktop, there are several free options to choose from – without paying the extra $80-$150.
- Join.me (The free Remote Desktop App from LogMeIn.com – Our Review)
- LogMeIn.com – full version Remote Desktop Application which has a Free account and several paid account options. http://www.logmein.com
- TightVNC is a free program and versions 2.0 and above run on Windows 7.
- RealVNC offers a free version, but it’s not compatible with Windows 7.
The personal edition does and it costs $30 – still far less than the upgrade to Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate.
Network backup is another desirable feature of the high-end editions that you sacrifice with Windows 7 Home Premium. However, there are a number of options here: you can use software such as GFI Backup Home Edition, which is free and easy to use or you can use something like Microsoft’s SyncToy, which will synchronize files and folders between a local and network drive, effectively giving you a network backup of your data.
Windows XP Mode
If you would like to use the XP Mode Feature, you will have to have the Pro or Ultimate version – Or Do you Now?
What is XP Mode Really ? The XP mode is nothing more than Microsoft’s Windows Virtual PC plus a licensed copy of Windows XP in a virtual machine to run on it.
Same thing can be done using third-party applications like Virtual PC 2007, Windows Virtual PC, VMware or Sun’s VirtualBox. However, you’ll still need to buy a license for XP to run it in the VM. If you already have a licensed copy of XP, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you’ll probably come out better by upgrading to Windows 7 Pro so you can download XP Mode free. The nice thing about the “real” XP Mode is the way it integrates with your Windows 7 desktop.
Encrypt individual files to protect sensitive data (EFS)
Another feature that you get with Pro and Ultimate but not with Home Premium is the Encrypting File System (EFS). This feature allows you to encrypt individual files to protect sensitive data stored on your hard drive. There are of course several options you can choose from, which are free or have different payment options, still less expensive than Upgrading to Pro or Ultimate.
- TrueCrypt, Lots of features, tho a bit less user-friendly than EFS
- BitLocker (Our Tutorial), Encrypts entire disks
- Secret Disk, Creates encrypted folder
- AxCrypt, Open Source File Encryption
To Domain or Not Domain
Ok, so the final argument for going all the way (investing in Pro or Ultimate), is to join a Domain. But do you really need that option ? Unless you want all the flexibility in the world wanting to log in to any of your Numerous PC’s and laptops and receive and send e-mails from any computer, then the ability to join a Domain isn’t all that necessary.
But I want to get access to it all
Your computer doesn’t have to be a member of the domain for you to log into a domain account. Meaning that if you only need to access shared folders, files and printers then Home Premium will work just fine. However, should you need the computer to be managed by domain Group Policy and Active Directory Security, then you need to upgrade the OS.
What do YOU think?
Tell us about your experiences. Are there any features of Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate that you just can’t live without, or have you been able to make do with Windows 7 Home Premium Edition? What workarounds (if any), have you used to “upgrade” your Home Premium Edition?