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The company that I work for continuously hires new people, and I'm the one who has to go and purchase new computers. The majority of them, if not all, come pre-installed with Windows Home editions. I'm noticing that the Windows 7/8 Home editions are unable to connect to domains. I'm having to buy the upgrades to the Pro editions. I'm trying to understand as to why the Home edition of the OS is unable to connect to domains?

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Because its not a feature of that version of Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 8? –  Ramhound Dec 7 '12 at 17:25
I know it's not a feature. I'm asking why isn't it a feature? What's preventing it. –  MyCodeSucks Dec 7 '12 at 17:26
If Home Premium had this feature then there would be no reason for businesses to purchase Professional and Enterprise versions. The good news is Windows 8 Professional does support joining domains which should be used anyways in an office. –  Ramhound Dec 7 '12 at 17:30
How are we suppose to know we are not Microsoft –  Ramhound Dec 7 '12 at 17:33
There is no technical limitation beyond the fact it literally does not support doing so. Beyond that discussions which only internal staff at Microsoft can answer are not productive. –  Ramhound Dec 7 '12 at 17:42

7 Answers 7

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Microsoft doesn't allow Home editions of Windows to join domains because they figure that home users won't be connecting to any type of domain. Although that does suck, you do have to purchase the professional version of Windows in order to get that feature.

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It's basically market segmentation by Microsoft. They have decided that the Home editions cannot connect to the domain so they can price and support different products in a different way. You will continue to have to upgrade the Home editions unless you can find a vendor, such as CDW (just what my employer uses), that will provide the business versions pre-installed. Many of these vendors will ship next day, but for a price. It's up to you and your employer if you want to go that route.

Microsoft has also ensured that Home users likely will never use domains with the advent of the home group in 7 and 8, possibly Vista as well, though I'm not sure.

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Home Group does not exist in Windows Vista. –  Alexey Ivanov Dec 8 '12 at 19:57

JustinD is on the right track.

The reason is simply that novice users like “grandmothers” are not expected to need that “advanced” functionality. Home users who check email, use social networks, play games, etc. are rarely going to need to connect to a domain and will rather connect directly to their modem or router.

Domains on the other hand are, um, the domain—pun intended—of enterprises, schools, etc. who need more advanced system administration and gateway-management abilities.

Therefore, Microsoft can put advanced functions like this in a different edition and provide a cheaper version for home users and a more expensive one for organizations.


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A license property doesn't allow it. Only the Professional Editions (pro/Enterprise) or the Ultimate have the license value WorkstationService-DomainJoinEnabled set.

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As was indicated in another answer, this is market segmentation. Home users have no need to join a computer to a domain, but business users often absolutely require it. Economics 101 here.

One option you have is to purchasecomputers that come with a Professional Edition of Windows pre-installed. These do exist, and it's likely cheaper to get your license this way than to pay for the upgrade seperately.

An even better option is to start using volume licensing. If you have 5 or more Windows computers at your business, you qualify for the volume licensing program. This can yield a huge saving over the retail pricing.

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This is news to me as well - yet informative. Thank you. It really does make market segmentation sense (not only for Microsoft but vendors as well). Only catch is that vendors generally will ship the SL /Home version by default (without your knowledge - unless you are the IT guru around).

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First thought:
Exercise your freedom of choice - buy Macs or install some Linux variant on you're new PCs. Windows domains are almost always more trouble than they're worth.

Second thought:
If your company insists on Windows, then your IT group and management must to commit the resources and money to support that choice.

Most hardware vendors offer a variety of Windows editions with their products, make sure you are purchasing from the Business section if you're buying online. Otherwise - go through VAR (Value Added Reseller) like PCConnection or CDW, they'll tailor the offerings to your specific needs.

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"Windows domains are almost always more trouble than they're worth"? Help me out there: what troubles are those? And... What is the domain alternative to Macs? –  Luiz Angelo Dec 7 '12 at 19:03
Active Directory is still, even after all these years, a huge step up over anything on linux. Linux users keep getting stuck with "oh, it's just ldap" and miss how much easier it is to use and how many additional features there are on top of a base ldap system. –  Joel Coehoorn Dec 7 '12 at 22:26
I'm not trying to start an OS war. I use Windows everyday, my primary system is Win7. At work we manage AD, NIS and SAMBA domains. We live in a heterogeneous world where AD is not necessarily the only or best option. Especially with increasing number of mobile smart devices. Joshua says he is responsible for purchasing PCs, so I suggested 2 additional options - try another OS or buy PCs with required version. I don't understand the down-mods. –  joel Dec 8 '12 at 21:02

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