I’m sure this list is out on the web somewhere, but just in case you’ve not seen it in this easy-to-read format before, below is my list of the features of each version of Windows 7. I think this will help you to work out which one is right for your school:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium is the retail version. It doesn’t allow network login (called Domain Join), so it’s unsuitable for school-based computers, and unlikely to be useful for student laptops owned by the school, unless you don’t plan to manage them or connect them up to your school network except via the web. It is also unable to run XP Mode, which might be useful for some of your older software.
  • Windows 7 Professional is the minimum version you’ll need in-school as it has network domain join and XP Mode.
  • Windows 7 Enterprise is the right version if you believe that you should be encrypting any laptops used by staff (this is something I believe strongly!), because it comes with BitLocker and BitLocker To Go. And in addition it also adds AppLocker – which you may want on all of your devices too.
  • Windows 7 Ultimate is in the table below for completeness, but you are only likely to get this version if you buy it in a retail store with it pre-installed (which is an expensive way to get the functionality in Enterprise or Professional edition)

See below the table for my “How to Buy Windows 7” guide

What features are in which version of Windows 7?

Features

Home Premium

Professional

Enterprise

Ultimate

32-Bit and 64-Bit Versions

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Create and Join a Home Group

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tablet PC Functionality

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multiple Monitor Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Document Libraries

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fast User Switching

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Search

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Mobility Center

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Aero, Taskbar, & Jump Lists

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Live Thumbnail Previews

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multi-Touch

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Premium Games Included

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Media Center

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Create & Play DVDs

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Device Stage

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Action Center

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Encrypting File System

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Location Aware Printing

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Remote Desktop Host

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Domain Join & Group Policy Controls

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows XP Mode

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

AppLocker

No

No

Yes

Yes

BitLocker & BitLocker to Go

No

No

Yes

Yes

BranchCache

No

No

Yes

Yes

DirectAccess

No

No

Yes

Yes

Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications (SUA)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Enterprise Search Scopes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Multilingual User Interface Language Packs (MUI)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Licence Rights for 4 Windows Virtual Machines

No

No

Yes

Yes

Virtual Hard Disk Booting

No

No

Yes

Yes

Volume Activation

No

No

Yes

No

Licence Rights for Network Booting of Windows

No

No

Yes

No

How to buy Windows 7 for your school

So now you’ve worked out which version you want, you may want to know the best way to buy the right version!

Existing computers

  • For any existing computers running any version of Windows XP or Windows Vista, you can buy a Windows 7 upgrade on your Select, SESP or School Agreement. If it’s basic Select, the upgrade is to Windows 7 Professional. If you have SESP or School Agreement, or buy a Select licence with the Software Assurance option, you’ll get Windows 7 Enterprise.

New computers

  • For Professional edition, you can either buy a new PC with it pre-installed, or buy a PC with Windows 7 Home Premium, and then add an upgrade.
    It’s worth checking the price of both options, because the second often can often be cheaper.
  • For Enterprise edition, the best way is to buy a new PC with Windows 7 Home Premium, and then add an upgrade licence via a School Agreement, or with the Select licence plus Software Assurance (which gives you the right to keep upgrading, and adds the Enterprise features)

Here’s some links to find out more about School Agreement, SESP, Select Licences and Software Assurance. And the evergreen “How to get the best deal on Microsoft software” post

Your existing Microsoft partner will be able to give you a quote. I’ve just checked on the Pugh site*, and they quote £34 for a Select Windows 7 Professional upgrade.

* Pugh is one of our partners, but there are plenty of others. You can find them all on our website