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How to upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro

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How to upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro

Introduction and activation key

If you want to use Windows 10 at work and join the company domain (or use Azure Active Directory for PC management), or if you want to use your home PC to remotely access your system at work, or if you want BitLocker whole disk encryption to protect your data, you want Windows 10 Pro rather than the Windows 10 Home version.

If you buy a new PC that comes with Windows 10 Home, you'll have to pay to upgrade to Pro. But if you start with a Pro version of Windows 7 or 8 (that's Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 8.1 Pro for Students), upgrading to Windows 10 should automatically get you the Pro version.

That won't happen if you do a clean install of Windows 10 though, so in that case you'll still have to do the upgrade. You'll need that key to activate Windows 10 anyway, after a clean install, and the upgrade will happen when you fill in the key.

Upgrade in place

Check what version of Windows 10 you have and start your upgrade in Settings

The upgrade happens in place, so you won't be reinstalling Windows or reformatting your PC or even recreating your user account, so you don't need to take more than the usual precautions for applying a major update (make sure File History is turned on, or that all your files are backed up another way, save any open files, then close any apps that are running).

Open the Settings app and under System, you can either choose About, then select Change product key or upgrade your version of Windows, or go directly to Update & Security and choose Activation.

The Windows activation section of Settings also lets you change the product key or buy an upgrade

If you have a Windows 10 Pro product key already, or if you have the product key for one of the Pro versions of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 listed above, click Change product key and type in your key. Don't worry about typing in the dashes or using capital letters Windows will take care of that automatically as you type.

Type in your Windows 10 Pro product key, or the activation key for a Pro version of Windows 7 or 8

If you don't have a product key to type in, click Go to Store (you can go straight to the Store and search for Windows 10 Pro, or even go to Bing and search for 'upgrade to Windows 10 Pro' to get a link to the right page in the Store).

If your PC appears to freeze or hang when you buy Windows 10 Pro from the Store, it may be because you're not seeing the secure screen where you need to confirm that you want to upgrade your system.

Usually you can press Alt-Tab to switch to it and accept the prompt. If not, check the User Account Control Settings in the control panel you can temporarily change them to Never notify, or change back to the default of Notify me only when applications try to make changes to my computer, which should show the prompt normally.

Upgrading and Pro options

Confirm that you're ready to start the upgrade  with a fast internet connection, it only takes a few minutes

Windows will warn you to save your files because the PC will restart; click Start upgrade when you're ready. You'll see a progress bar on-screen you can carry on using your PC but it's going to restart without warning, so you don't want to be in the middle of editing files when that happens.

The progress bar shows that the upgrade is happening but you don't get a warning before it reboots your PC

The upgrade will take about ten minutes and then reboot, which takes another few minutes, again with a progress bar, before you're back at the login screen. When you log in, you'll see the confirmation that the upgrade has completed; this is another UAC notification and you won't be able to do anything on your PC until you close it.

When your PC restarts, you'll be running Windows 10 Pro and Windows will confirm that you've upgraded

New Pro features

Your existing Windows account will be there, complete with files and installed applications, but you'll find the extra Windows 10 Pro features available. For example, you can defer updates in Windows Update, turn on BitLocker, use the Group Policy Editor to change settings and run Hyper-V for virtualisation.

Don't want to install updates straight away? With Windows 10 Pro you can defer them for several months

Depending on what your company has set up, you may be able to connect to your business network using Direct Access (instead of a VPN) with Windows 10 Pro. If you use Azure AD to connect to services, you'll get single sign-on to cloud apps that your company subscribes to and if they've set up their own Store for apps you can use, that will be available. You can also set a Windows 10 Pro PC to run only one application, as a kiosk, if you want; that's called Assigned Access.

Once you've upgraded to Windows 10 you can turn on BitLocker whole disk encryption

There are other Windows 10 Pro features that companies will be able to turn on when they arrive later in the year, like Enterprise Data Protection, which puts every business file in its own encrypted container. Those will need management tools like Intune or System Center Data Protection. If it's your own files you want to protect, turn on BitLocker to encrypt the entire drive.

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