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We (a small company) have just bought a couple of HP Minis for
mail/web/office tools.
The HP minis were preinstalled with XP Home Edition,
and we are considering XP Professional or Vista Business.
Do you know which extras we get from XP professional/Vista Business compared to XP Home?

Edit: Will stick with Home Edition (and explore Ubuntu)

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good call. Home edition is fine if you're not using windows domains, but good luck with ubuntu, it may be more stable for what you're doing. –  Paul McMillan Jul 23 '09 at 21:40

8 Answers 8

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The big thing with Home is that it cannot be a part of a Windows domain - only a work group. That's basically it - so do you need domain support or not? (Some examples are group policies, fine-grained security on a file-system and user level, VPN/remote connection at log-on).

Differences according to anime-Paul
Differences according to a Technet article

The HP mini should handle Vista fine in my experience of trying it so I would argue not going the XP route if you chose to upgrade - using an eight year old operating system however cool it is isn't recommended if you have other options. But that's the security buff in me talking, you might ignore him at will ^^

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@Oskar Duveborn: Thanks. +1 We do not need domain support and will keep your security buff in mind ;)) –  Kb. Jul 23 '09 at 13:16
    
Then I'd say keep with Home and see how it goes... analyzing the situation in more detail could lead to other answers like if you start to store work-related files locally - but that's outside the scope I think ^^ –  Oskar Duveborn Jul 23 '09 at 13:18
    
@Oskar Duveborn: We use Cisco VPN some times. It seems to work. –  Kb. Jul 23 '09 at 13:22
    
Yes, third-party vpn tools should work. The built-in connector however doesn't seem to be selectable at the Home logon prompt. Small detail, almost not worth mentioning but it happened. –  Oskar Duveborn Jul 23 '09 at 13:24
    
@Oskar Duveborn:Accepting your answer (good links). I think we will stick with Home Ed (and Ubuntu looks interesting) –  Kb. Jul 23 '09 at 13:37

The one big reason to use XP Professional instead of Home: Home cannot join Active Directory Domains.

Vista on a Netbook would be a chore, I don't recommend that. Either XP or Windows 7.

Apart from that, it's only minor stuff like IIS.

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@Michael Stum: Have you tried the Windows 7 on a HP Mini? –  Kb. Jul 23 '09 at 13:18
    
I don't have an HP Mini, but I have an Asus eeePC 1000HE, which also has an Atom processor. Windows 7 is slower than XP, but not much. It's a lot better than Vista and certainly usable. I just don't know if the new taskbar and the small resolution of 1024x600 work well together (I don't know if the HP Mini has the same or a higher resolution). –  Michael Stum Jul 23 '09 at 13:35
    
@Michael Stum: +1 thanks for info –  Kb. Jul 23 '09 at 13:39
1  
Taskbar on the side (right or left) works wonders for a small screen - it's also actually usable that way in Win7, finally. –  Oskar Duveborn Jul 23 '09 at 13:47

Various networking things, development-level servers (IIS, FTP, yadda yadda). In Vista, you additionally get some bloat, a slightly nicer looking desktop and encryption.

If you're really just in it for the web-facing desktop tools (browsers, email, etc) you could do a lot worse than spending a few hours, even a day, playing with Linux and see how that goes for you.

If you've got proprietary apps you need on windows, that obviously isn't an option but otherwise it's something to keep in mind once you're growing and you have to maintain a dozen or more computers. Windows licenses get expensive fast.

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@Oli: Linux on Minis. Tell me more please ;)) +1 –  Kb. Jul 23 '09 at 13:20
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A bootable usb stick with Ubuntu could be a start to play with: ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download-netbook –  Oskar Duveborn Jul 23 '09 at 13:27

As stated by others, the main difference is you cannot join a domain. However, that can be worked around with pGina.

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@Justin Dearing: +1 That was useful –  Kb. Jul 23 '09 at 13:24

Some of the deficiencies of XP Home can be overcome by making it think it is XP Pro, such as joining a domain. The link below outlines how to make the conversion.

http://www.mydigitallife.info/2008/06/13/convert-and-upgrade-windows-xp-home-to-professional-without-reinstalling/

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@DHayes: +1 Good link. –  Kb. Jul 23 '09 at 13:56

I would say "no". You can hack around the restrictions but then you're straying deep into "unsupported" territory. For corporate networks - no matter how big or small - safe and predictable is the way to go every time. Leave the hot-wiring for your personal machines at home.

In your case you may not need an AD domain now, but you might in a year or two down the line. You might also want to set local group policies, proper NTFS permissions and so forth.

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Also, with XP (either Home or Pro) we are very soon nearing end of life for that OS. Which means that no more updates from the Microsoft, even critical ones.

Maybe Windows 7 (when it comes out in few months time) would be suitable, it's actually less taxing on hardware than Vista.

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@ksaunam: Do you know if "end of life" for XP has been published? –  Kb. Jul 28 '09 at 9:42
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Well, according to this page: microsoft.com/windows/lifecycle/default.mspx it is already ended, in fact.. –  ksaunam Aug 3 '09 at 20:25

I've only ever used Pro until I recently was helping my father. We needed to do a quickie backup of some files on his Vista notebook. So I said let's just point Windows Backup (Backup and Restore Center) at the cavernous space available on his desktop over the LAN. Nope, XP Home doesn't allow the necessary permissions to be set on the shared directory. Brain dead!

XP Home network share error

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