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I'd like our company to buy me a new laptop, but as I want quadcore i7 720QM, there are a lot of models with Windows 7 Home Premium, and few with Windows 7 Professional. I have looked in the edition comparison table and I can say that I don't need any of the features exclusive to Professional.

The question is: Can I legally use Windows 7 Home Premium at work?

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ake absolutely sure you don't need any of the other version features. For instance remote desktop no one needed until they needed it. – datatoo Sep 8 '10 at 16:15
I wouldn't worry as much about the legality as about whether there are technical reasons not to pick Home Premium over Professional! – Ivo Flipse Sep 9 '10 at 8:20
as I said, I absolutely don't need any features from Professional. Thanks for all of the comments, all of them are correct. – Axarydax Sep 9 '10 at 12:24
up vote 10 down vote accepted

As has been stated by multiple people, there is no legal reason you cannot use the laptop.

That said, you can buy business class systems that will include Windows 7 Pro. Further, you can always use the Windows Anytime Upgrade to upgrade to Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate.

What you DON'T get in Home that makes it more challenging to use in a business is:

  • No Remote Desktop into the system (Remote Desktop Out is fine).
  • No ability to JOIN a domain - you can still access domain resources by providing your password and user name, but the computer cannot be managed by Active Directory and "seemless" access to network resources will not be possible (unless you make your local computer account match your domain account in both name and password).
  • No ability to use XP Mode for compatibility issues with programs.

Other than that, you're fine.

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I have looked in the edition comparison table and I can say that I don't need any of the features exclusive to Professional.

Are you sure about that? You might not think you need them, but your IT staff is likely adamant that you do.

The main sticking point is usually joining the machine to the domain. IT staff use this to do things like set up your user account, control access to file shares (and possibly an exchange mailbox), deploy certain kinds of software to the machine, and generally get their job done. A machine not joined to the domain will require a lot more work for them to keep up with than one that is joined.

While this isn't really a problem on one machine (you can set up work-arounds for most things) it's definitely a problem if there are lots of machines like this; it will cripple their ability to keep systems functioning efficiently. This is the kind of thing where making exceptions creates a slippery slope; once they allow you to get away with it there's suddenly 20 computers to support that aren't connected and all need special attention. Now those extra few dollars you were so happy to save are lost 10 times over because you're paying for an additional support tech.

Additionally, that list you linked to is far from exhaustive. For example, it's missing remote desktop connections, and that's another big one for IT departments.

All that said, there's no legal reason you can't do this.

As a final note, do you really need that fancy Core i7? Where I'm at it would definitely be considered a luxury item and require a pretty solid business case to justify. Anyway, if you really want a fast machine have them spend the money on a quality solid state drive. It's likely to matter more to performance than the fast processor, as even modest i3 is likely to have cycles to spare.

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Accessing networked drives in Home can run really slowly in some contexts, especially when Microsoft Access is involved. – JamesGecko Sep 9 '10 at 2:30
I pretty much self-admin my computer, I solve my own problems, we have a lot of freedom at our company regarding IT policy. I can connect remotely from W7 home, I just can't connect to my machine. I don't care about that, I'll install VPN if I need to. I don't want to join domain, I'll just connect to domain resources (server fileshares) if I need to, that's also possible from W7 home. – Axarydax Sep 9 '10 at 12:24
and about that Core i7 - if it fits into the budget, why not? If a co-worker ordered overpriced Hewlett-Packard notebook with i5, I can get Acer for the same cost, with bigger disk, 2 GB extra RAM and i7. – Axarydax Sep 9 '10 at 12:29
@Axarydax - If they'll foot the bill that's fine, but you'll get more for your "money" (or political capital) by asking for a nice ssd. – Joel Coehoorn Sep 9 '10 at 13:17
thanks for the tip, 64GB SSD for system disk would be a nice link in the performance chain :-) – Axarydax Sep 10 '10 at 13:25

I think you are allowed to use it. You will however not be able to connect it to a domain. But as you said, you don't need to do that.

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Legally?, Yes, there is no law against doing so, unless your company has a policy against using it on their network for some reason.

"Home" does Not mean it can only be used at home....

Why do you need a quad core processor in a laptop? Just curious.


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virtual machines, database server, development, compiling, stuff – Axarydax Sep 8 '10 at 16:34

I was asked the same question on twitter quite some time ago, and I was curious on the same, so I spent some time reading the EULA. Do note that I'm not a lawyer and this shouldn't be considered as "legal advice". Also, this is the part of the EULA which is a reference to anything commercial.

  • SCOPE OF LICENSE. The software is licensed, not sold. This agreement only gives you some rights to use the features included in the software edition you licensed. The manufacturer or installer and Microsoft reserve all other rights. Unless applicable law gives you more rights despite this limitation, you may use the software only as expressly permitted in this agreement. In doing so, you must comply with any technical limitations in the software that only allow you to use it in certain ways.
    • You may not work around any technical limitations in the software; reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the software, except and only to the extent that applicable law expressly permits, despite this limitation;
    • use components of the software to run applications not running on the software;
    • make more copies of the software than specified in this agreement or allowed by applicable law, despite this limitation;
    • publish the software for others to copy;
    • rent, lease or lend the software; or
    • use the software for commercial software hosting services.

The last line is the probably the one which bars anything "commercial" - but the wording says no to commercial software hosting services - it probably means use as a web server or a use as a server in a thin client setup

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it's just about using the software for commercial hosting, which I won't be performing – Axarydax Sep 9 '10 at 12:26

Legally, umm, probably.

There's no law against using it there, but there may be licensing limitations. There used to be restrictions on number of clients that can connect if you do file sharing or whatever. You may want to install software that MS says can only be installed on non-Home Windows. Your installer may check and refuse to install.

The Home/Professional split is a bit arbitrary, trying to squeeze more money out of people with corporate budgets. In NT4, the only changes were literally 2 registry changes between the two, plus some bundled software. There's a good article on pricing from Spolsky, back before his writing skills atrophied a bit. It explains this split somewhat. And is a good read anyway

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Are you actually recommending the license be violated? – Multiverse IT Sep 8 '10 at 16:23
@Multiverse IT, Actually no, the opposite. I am just trying to state that the 'yes/no' question is more subtle than some people state, that though you can run 'Home' at work, there may be other limitations. The pricing statement was just color on why this exists at all. – Rich Homolka Sep 8 '10 at 16:31
do you know any software that refuses to install on Windows 7 Home? – Axarydax Sep 9 '10 at 12:28

You can buy the Home Premium version and upgrade to Professional version with an "anytime upgrade" for only a few dollars if you find that you need the additional networking capabilities of the Professional version(and you probably will). You cannot switch bit rate versions with "anytime upgrade" so whether you start with 32 bit or 64 bit may be an important decision.

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Of Course you can use Windows 7 Home Premium at work. There exists NO LAW that states that you cant use Windows 7 Home Premium for Office Work

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Of course laws would have nothing to do with this. I think you mean the license (EULA), which can restrict particular versions of software to personal/commercial use. – Nick T Sep 8 '10 at 15:32

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