For many revisions of Windows, Microsoft has provided a variety of editions or what are known as Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) to meet the needs of a variety of users in different markets and regions world wide. To date, Windows 7 introduced the most editions (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise, Embedded). Since the release of Windows 8, many of these editions have been consolidated to more specific devices and form factors.
Understanding Windows 10 Editions
In addition to SKUs, Microsoft also provides Windows specific architectures that target the CPU of your PC. i.e. 32 and 64-bit versions. The capability is determined specifically by how much memory your computer is able to address. The more memory, the more programs you can run and the more tasks you can complete at the same time.
In this article, we take a look at Windows 10’s SKUs (editions), architectures, and build numbers. Windows 10 is considered to be the last major release of the “Windows” brand. Microsoft will be moving to a more service oriented model, delivering smaller pockets of features over time when they are ready. So how you will you tell the differences in a version released later this year versus a revision five or 10 years from now? Lets start by answering some basic questions:
What are the Build Numbers?
Build 10240 (stable release for everyone) and for Windows Insiders, at the time of this writing it’s preview Build 10532.
What Does RTM Mean?
RTM means Release to Manufacturing is a milestone in software development. Not specifically relevant to Windows 10, but symbolically in the past, it determined when a build is ready for production environments where it can be deployed and used for everyday computing and preloaded on new computers.
Determining your Windows 10 edition
In older versions of Windows you were able to know the edition of Windows installed from a number of places (start up splash screen, welcome screen, About Windows dialog). As Microsoft moves to the concept of “one Windows” or Windows as a Service (WaaS), the edition takes a back seat to what you have installed. Of course, it is still important to know what edition you have installed, whether for support, or to compare with other editions available. Especially if you want to upgrade to a higher edition with more features and capabilities.
To find your version of Windows 10, hit Windows key+R and type: winver and hit Enter. That will bring up the following About Windows screen where you can see the version and build number.
If you upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 or upgrade Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 through Windows Update, depending on the edition of Windows you have installed, you will be upgraded to that edition. Here’s the breakdown of what you can expect, which we also covered in our article: Your Windows 10 Questions Answered.
- Windows 7 Starter will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
- Windows 7 Home Basic will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
- Windows 7 Home Premium will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
- Windows 7 Professional will be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
- Windows 7 Ultimate will be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
And here is what versions you can expect if you’re upgrading Windows 8.1:
- Windows 8.1 will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
- Windows 8.1 with Bing will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
- Windows 8.1 Professional will be Upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
What’s the Difference Between Home and Pro Versions?
Windows 10 Home within the Windows 8/8.1 family is also known as Core edition which is also simply known as Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 8/8.1 Single Language. This edition does not include certain premium business features such as Domain Join, Hyper-V, Group Policy Editor, Remote Desktop, Language Packs or BitLocker Drive Encryption. See below:
Windows 10 Pro is the premium business edition which supports advance capabilities such as multi-processor support, more than 512 GB of RAM, Domain Join, Network Backup, Group Policy, Remote Desktop and Hyper-V. It is the logical successor to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8/8.1 Pro. The dialog boxes below indicate this edition of Windows 10 can be joined to a Windows Server domain, check out our article for more instructions how to do so.
Find Detailed Information About the Edition
Press Windows key+X and select Command prompt (Admin) from the hidden quick access menu.
At the command prompt, type: slmgr.vbs -dli and hit Enter.
A dialog will appear listing the full name of the edition. Another interesting thing this dialog displays is the channel the operating system is from, whether is OEM, Retail, Volume License Client.
What is a Channel?
- OEM means it’s preinstalled versions of Windows that often come with a new PC (HP, Dell, Acer) or an OEM System Builder license for persons who build new computers.
- Retail versions are sold as a shrink wrapped package you buy in a store or download from the Microsoft Store or a retail website such as amazon.com.
- Volume License Client are for enterprises that are licensed to large businesses who deploy Windows to many PCs in their organization.
Determining Your Windows 10 Architecture
Windows 10 is available in both 32 and 64-bit architectures. What this basically means is the amount of memory your computer is capable of addressing. Some computers might be 64-bit capable, but are limited by the amount of memory that can be installed. Windows 10 Home 64-bit supports up to 128 GB of RAM, while Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise 64-bit support up to 512 GB of RAM. 32-bit versions are limited to 4 GB of RAM. If you buy a modern PC today, more than likely, it includes a 64-bit CPU.
To determine the architecture of your current system running Window 10, go to Settings > System > About. You will find the system type in the right column.
For more, read our article: How to Switch from Windows 32-bit to 64-bit.
Determining Your Windows 10 Build Number
As previously noted, Windows 10 represents the last major revision. Prior versions of Windows came to market every two or three years and Microsoft is changing that with Windows 10. Windows will no longer have identifiable version numbers such as a Windows 11 or Windows 12. And with the introduction of the Windows Insider Program for PC and the Insider program for Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft promises to continue rapidly developing Windows 10. What this means for you, to better identify a release of Windows 10, the build number will be the best place to look.
What is a Build Number, and How Do I Find it?
A build number represents a compilation of the operating system code at a particular point in time. Microsoft compiles a new build of Windows 10 every day and there are many branches and build labs at the company that handles this procedure.
A build number does not determine the quality of the release, this is ultimately dependent on the fit and finish of the code based on a process of engineering a certain feature set and using feedback to help determine the systems readiness for production. Windows 10 recently reached this milestone. The process is normally called Release to Manufacturing (RTM) where the code once determined ready for production usage is delivered to OEMs to preinstall on new computers sold via digital download, USB drives, and yep, still DVDs. With Windows 10. the description is likely to be redefined as ‘Release to Web’.
You’ll find the build number next to the version following the steps outlined earlier. As you can see, the public release build number is 10240.
This should help you grasp the basics of where Microsoft is heading by developing WaaS.