Help Me Choose: Operating Systems

The operating system is one of the most important programs on your computer.

 - Every PC must have an operating system to run other programs.
 - Operating systems perform basic tasks such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the monitor, keeping track of files and directories on the hard disk and controlling devices such as optical drives and printers.
 - Operating systems also manage how your computer accesses available networks.

In addition to the core features of Windows 7, Windows 8 offers exciting new features such as the Windows Store and touch support.

Choose ...

If you ...


Windows 8

Plan to use a touch-enabled device

  • Windows UI designed for touch input

Want to take advantage of the wide range of new Windows apps designed for Windows 8

  • Windows Store (wireless connectivity is required to access the Store)

Want real-time updates to the information you care about

  • Live Tiles

Want assurance that you always have the latest version of your Windows app

  • Windows Store always has the latest software available (wireless connectivity is required to access the Store)

Want secure boot up

  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) BIOS that intercepts and notifies you of threats early in the boot process

Want to use cloud services to the fullest

  • Windows Store — purchased apps are available on multiple devices.
  • Windows Store — pick up where you left off in a game or app, from anywhere you can access your app (wireless connectivity is required to access the Store).
  • SkyDrive® — Windows 8 apps are more easily integrated with SkyDrive.  (Internet connection required.)

Windows 8 Pro

Want all the features in Windows 8 and:


Plan to take your personal device (PC, tablet) into a domain-joined environment

  • Domain Join

Have a volume license agreement with Microsoft

  • Volume Licensing option

Want to encrypt your entire hard drive to help protect you against loss and theft

  • BitLocker® (TPM required)

Work in a managed environment

  • Domain Join
  • Remote Desktop
  • Group Policy
  • Offline Files 

Want to backup to network locations, DVD or another drive

  • Advanced Backup

Choose ...

If you ...


Windows 7 Home Premium


Plan to create a home network, enjoy multimedia entertainment on your PC or personalizing it with photos and wallpapers

  • Create ad hoc wireless networks
  • Watch, pause, rewind and record TV on your PC 

Windows 7 Professional

Want all the features in Windows 7 Home Premium, and:

  • Are a small or medium organization looking to work from anywhere
  • Location-aware printing
  • Mobility center with presentation settings
  • Remote desktop host
  • Are concerned about safeguarding your organization
  • File system encryption
  • Advanced backup 

Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate with XP Mode installed

Want to move to Windows 7 but concerned that your applications aren’t compatible

  • Windows 7 with XP Mode installed — Windows XP Mode is a new benefit of Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate with additional application compatibility. It allows you to install and run many of your productivity applications for Windows XP directly from your Windows 7-based PC. This option includes all the features and functions of Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, with the added benefit of XP Mode.

Windows 7 Ultimate

Want all the features in Windows 7 Professional, and:

  • Need to manage multiple languages and operating systems
  • Multilingual user interface (MUI) pack
  • Subsystem for UNIX® 
  • Would like to encrypt data on your PC and portable storage devices to help protect against loss
  • BitLocker® and BitLocker To Go® (TPM required)
  • Have remote users who need seamless access to corporate networks without connecting to a virtual private network (VPN)
  • DirectAccess*
  • Want to decrease the time branch office users spend waiting to download files across the network
  • BranchCache®*
  • Prefer to centrally manage what software is allowed to run on users' PCs
  • AppLocker®*