For businesses, functionality trumps cost
With increasing frequency, I see organizations—usually small businesses—that have installed Windows XP Home Edition on their PCs. In most cases, this version of the OS came preinstalled on new PCs—typically laptops—that the businesses bought. The organizations save money up front by buying XP Home, and they assume that because the OS is Windows XP, it will meet their needs. However, end users and administrators eventually discover that they need features that are included only in XP Pro, and the organization ends up buying XP Pro anyway to get the missing functionality. Here are 10 important features of XP Pro that you'll sorely miss if your end users run XP Home instead.
10. Domain logon ability—Because it's a home-oriented OS, XP Home lacks the ability to log on to a domain controller (DC). You can use XP Home for workgroup-style file and printer sharing, but it can't participate in Windows Server domains—a big drawback in a business environment.
9. Group Policy support—Since XP Home can't be a member of a domain, it's also unable to use Group Policy. Because XP Home can't receive new Group Policy Objects (GPOs) and updates, you must manually manage PCs that run this OS.
8. Backup—You might find this hard to believe, but the default installation of XP Home doesn't include NTBackup. Perhaps Microsoft dropped NTBackup simply in recognition of the fact that home users rarely back up their data, but systems administrators are likely to be surprised by this omission. You can manually install NTBackup from the \Valueadd folder on the XP Home installation CD-ROM.
7. Roaming profiles—Roaming profiles let you use your network profile to sign on at different computers throughout the network. Only XP Pro systems support roaming profiles; XP Home restricts the use of profiles to the local machine.
6. EFS—XP Home also lacks Encrypting File System (EFS). End users who run XP Pro can use EFS to secure their files so that only they can view them. However, that capability isn't available in XP Home.
5. Multiprocessor support—Although not a concern for most people, XP Home has limited scalability because it can't take advantage of more than one processor. In contrast, XP Pro can take advantage of two-way SMP systems and provides better scalability.
4. Deployment tools—Microsoft restricts the ability to use automated deployments with XP Home. Unlike XP Pro, XP Home doesn't support automated deployment using Microsoft Remote Installation Services (RIS) or Sysprep and doesn't support IntelliMirror. Consequently, administrators must manually deploy all software on systems that run XP Home.
3. Remote Desktop support—Remote Desktop is another feature that's useful in businesses but not available with XP Home. Remote Desktop lets Help desk technicians or other end users remotely control someone else's system across the network. XP Home doesn't support Remote Desktop, although it does include Remote Assistance and can use RealVNC's Virtual Network Computing (VNC) for remote control.
2. Logon groups—The User Accounts tool in XP Home can't create groups or assign users to groups. Rather, all new users are set up by default as members of the Owners group, which is essentially the equivalent of Administrator. In a business setting, giving end users such a powerful account isn't a good idea.
1. File-level access control—Although XP Home uses NTFS and can secure objects in the file system, the OS doesn't provide GUI tools for changing the security for objects. Instead, it uses a much simpler and less secure method called private folders. Ironically, XP Home does include the more difficult-to-use Cacls command-line utility, so administrators have a workaround for setting file-level security.