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Microsoft makes it so easy these days to pick the right software.

I use a Mac but need Windows in a virtual machine for some of my specialized development tools. I am currently running XP and am thinking about an upgrade to 7. The problem is what "version" do I need? I need the ability to VPN into work and run Visual Studio (not the specialized dev tool). I like the idea of the Home Premium family pack, but will I be satisfied with that? Will it work for me?

I don't care about the extras, that is what OS X is for. I just want to know what would work best for development.

This will be running in a virtual machine (Parallels) not in Boot Camp.

So really there are three questions:

  1. What version allows VPN (PPTP and SonicWall SSL-VPN)?
  2. What version can run under a virtual machine?
  3. What version works best to run a web development environment?
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Unlike Apple, Microsoft does not put any restrictions on whether you are allowed to run in a VM, as long as you have a license for the VM copy, so any edition will fit that requirement.

You used to want the Professional Edition of Windows for development work because it included IIS, but as of Windows 7 IIS is now available on Home Premium as well. In my mind, the killer feature of Professional over Home Premium for home use is the built-in Remote Desktop server. Remote Desktop is a huge step up from VNC-based solutions like is used on the Mac. But this is hardly necessary for what you are doing.

That leaves VPN. Here, again, I suspect you'll be able to use Home Premium. However, we don't have enough information to say this for certain yet. There are at least 5 different common ways for companies to provide VPN access: PPTP, OpenVPN, IPSec, SSH-based, and Web(SSL)-based. The big vendors like Cisco and Citrix depend on those protocols for their clients. Depending on which of those you use, your IT dept may also require a version of Windows that supports group policy (ie: Professional). Probably not, but it can happen.

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I questioned virtual machines because Windows Vista yelled at me then I tried to run it under a VM. – Mike Wills Jul 19 '11 at 13:38
@Mike Wills Vista runs perfectly well under a VM...if you had problems, it was due to your virtualization software, not Vista. – KCotreau Jul 19 '11 at 15:04

I am not sure if by "one (VPN) that starts with a visit to a web page" that runs in a web browser, you mean an SSL VPN, but even then every version should work.

  1. You can indeed do a PPTP VPN from even home versions (even Starter versions).
  2. Any version will run under a VM. I have done this many times.
  3. Any version will work for development.

The single biggest reason for Pro is to join a Windows domain (not that home users don't want other features). Other than that, based on these forums, the next biggest would be to be able to RDP into the computer. A couple of lesser, but important, reasons would be language packs and bitlocker encryption.

Personally, I hate how they eliminate some troubleshooting and management functionality, like not having group policy editors.

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Sorry, I can't remember the name of the client. But I assumed that one would work fine. – Mike Wills Jul 19 '11 at 18:30

enter image description here

Professional is a more secure version. So as for development and your needs premium should do. Unless you wish to have additonal security features. It seems that professional is the best choice to allow for connecting to a company network (See the link below...)

It also allows for applications to be ran in an XP mode. (Seperate Download)

Have Microsoft help

To break it down

1) Professional for VPN (has more features associated with it)

2) As for Virtual Machine See Here

3) premium will work for dev, but again professional has more features

Image Courtesy of

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Images don't do well in SEO ;) – ChrisF Jul 19 '11 at 13:14
Also doesn't answer my question. Doesn't even mention VPN. – Mike Wills Jul 19 '11 at 13:18
@Mike Wills If you follow the Microfost link there a link on that page that mentions company… – sealz Jul 19 '11 at 13:23
edited answer/broke it down more – sealz Jul 19 '11 at 13:36
@harper89: Professional is not 'more secure' (unless you are referring to EFS encryption). The essential difference when compared to Home Premium is that it can connect to domain networks. – paradroid Jul 19 '11 at 16:01

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