Pro. Or no Pro (Houston we have a problem)

Using a computer for business as well as personal use can leave users with a decision to be made, to go “Pro or no Pro”.

Windows 8.1 is about £99, but 8.1 Pro weighs in at £189 that’s quite a substantial difference for the money, and lots go for “Standard” with the money value saving on costs. Or, is it? It really does depend on your business requirement, but as the article tries to prove, saving a few pounds may actually cost you more (in time and effort as well as money)

The differences

The differences between the two versions should really make your decision for you, if you don’t need them fine Standard is your man. But, if you want the extra features, or like the idea of having them available the choice becomes a little more clouded.

There are three main differences that separate out the versions.

Remote desktop.

Hang on! RDP is available on standard edition. It is but it’s a one way ticket you’ll find that your can RDP out, but no one can RDP into your machine.

This is a bit of a nuisance if you need to get something off your machine at home, or a colleagues and they haven’t saved it on Onedrive. It’s also a swine if you have a problem and you want IT to remote in and have a look at the problem.

Yes there’s alternative solutions services such as Logmein, or software such as Teamviewer, but before you dismiss Pro think carefully. Subscriptions to services are renewable, reliable products like Teamviewer have strict user licence when used professionally, these costs will end up replacing the money you think you’ve saved not getting PRO if you’re not careful.

Bit Locker Encryption.

In my opinion if you have a company laptop that leaves the office with you on your travels it should be configured so that the data is protected by encryption, should the laptop be lost of left. Yes, ITIL and ISO declares that no company information should be saved locally (more on that later). But in reality users do even if it’s for short brief moments and then delete afterward, but “forget”, this has been seen on several machines returned for repair I’ve been involved in.

Bit locker is included in Pro, and like the above scenario there are third party versions available, but again cost in buying, setting up and maintaining, even if not by yourself but by company IT starts adding

The company network (domain login)

Does your machine need to access the company network? A grey area for mobile, out of office workers, but let’s look at some scenario’s.

Email – If you need to use outlook email, it’s a damn sight easier if you’re on the company domain. If you’re not domain, it’s still possible to set up Outlook to get email from outside the domain/network, but certificates need to be added, a few more settings need adjusting, again a cost in time and effort. So much so, some other companies I know have the hard and fast rule of using Outlook Web access only for non domain users, with the point being that no files are stored on the machine, but that means no address books etc too sometimes.

File management – Company structure drives for sales marketing and support, each is dedicated to their own teams, but occasionally marketing may require sales info, or visa versa. The network and domain user can be easily configured to allow this requirement.

But if the user is outside of the network then the woes begin, mapped drives have to be configured and maintained on the remote machine to allow network access (remember you haven’t got RDP so a trip to the office to put the laptop up on the ramps is required). Added to that you have a possible spare key to your data wandering the internet.

As much as I love Onedrive not everyone will want to put or trust to cloud drives, and again the possibility of access to the drive is a threat if the machine is lost.


It’s not an easy choice as first looks, I can’t stress enough that it is down to requirements. For company machines I personally would recommend going PRO as it saves time and effort on IT resources having to configure users machines if they’re remote workers.

A cheap solution is to allow staff to RDP to the works desktop machine (or virtualised machine) and let them do company business on that via a VPN. This is a workable solution to a degree that I myself use frequently, the advantage is that should the connection fail from the remote machine your work is sat on the remote company PC and can be picked up again later. No data is exchanged from your machine outside of the office it’s still kept within the confines of the company domain. The huge risk is that you can VPN in from any machine, and you won’t always know the history of the machine doing the remote (does it have AV?). Again cost in time and effort ensure that the machine is safe and actually up to scratch of doing the work.

For those that think they made the wrong choice there’s a way you can hop on from standard via PRO pack, you also get some nice additional features such as the media centre too (for some strange reason)


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