Windows 10 IoT Core vs Enterprise – Similarity and Differences

When Windows 10 was formally introduced along with plenty of other things, Microsoft did not talk of Windows 10 for IoT, but it did drop hints at an operating system for tiny, smart devices. It was code-named Athens and now, after almost five years, is ready to give other IoT operating systems, a run for their money. This was neatly visible when we wrote about Contiki vs. Windows 10 for IoT. While working with Contiki, you have to take special care of security and other aspects while Windows 10 IoT has built-in security features that you can use. There are two major offerings from Microsoft for IoT: Windows 10 IoT Core and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise.

Windows 10 IoT Core Features

Windows 10 IoT Core is good for devices that are dedicated to a single task. The devices may or may not have any display. A display is required during programming and end users do not need it always unless they need to see some data.

Windows 10 IoT Core may run on both ARM and non-ARM devices. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise won’t support ARM-based devices as they are built for complex computations such as in ATMs and PoS systems which tend to get hot when exposed to complexities.

Windows 10 IoT Core vs Enterprise version

Devices hooked to the Internet of Things can be divided into two types:

  1. Single app devices
  2. Multi app devices.

Devices that can run only one app or as we can say, devices that are dedicated to only a single purpose, are single app devices. An example can be a temperature controller or a baby camera app. Then there are devices that are tiny but run multiple apps. Take one of the smartwatches for example. You’ll have a temperature controller, a fitness app, baby cam controller, and a few other things like calling and SMS.

From the above, it is evident that there must be two types of IoT operating systems that allow for either one or many apps. Windows 10 IoT Core is the first type. It helps in building a single app (or dedicated app). Windows IoT Core package is tiny but able to run background processes to provide data to the main app for which, the device was built. In other words, it contains only Windows 10 IoT operating system.

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise is an amalgamation of both IoT and full Enterprise version. It allows certain components of Windows 10 (main operating system) to be installed on smart devices. That in turn, allows running multiple apps at the same time. So basically, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise is IoT + Regular Windows 10 Enterprise OS.

Long-Term Service Channel – LTSC

While talking about differences between Windows IoT Core and Windows IoT Enterprise, it is essential to talk about Windows Updates. Windows IoT Core version is basically single app focussed or in other words, a device supposed to perform only a single thing. Such apps don’t require regular updates as they may break the basic app’s functionality. Thus, for Windows 10 IoT core, updates are as few as possible – spread over a long range of time. This goes well also because such devices do not require feature updates. All they need are updates that keep the device secure.

Windows 10 IoT Core is considered for Long Term Service Channel, much like the servers of any multinational that do not get updates too often. In fact, IoT Core gets even fewer updates as it doesn’t need those spring and fall feature updates. This doesn’t mean that the IoT Enterprise version will get too many updates. It too is LTSC and requires only those updates as required. The deployment of these updates (in Enterprise) is handled by the admins or makers of the device.

The above post explained the basic differences between Windows 10 IoT Core and IoT Enterprise. If you have anything to add, please comment.

— Update: 20-03-2023 — found an additional article Windows 10 Pro Vs Windows 10 IoT from the website for the keyword windows 10 iot core vs enterprise.

Technical Articles & Industry Trends

Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise are common business software solutions. Today, Microsoft Windows accounts for almost one-third of the operating systems in the world (See OS Market Share Data).

Windows 10 was released in 2015 and is the latest version of Windows. Before Win 10, there was Windows 8 and 7, which are still in use today, although Windows 7 is now End of Life (read our article about Windows 7 EOL). Before those, there was Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, all the way down to the first version of Windows, which was released in 1985. 

Since then, Microsoft has tailored its different versions of Windows towards different types of users. This article will look at Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 IoT, which are the most commonly used operating systems by Teguar customers and the Industrial market overall.


About Win 10 Pro

Windows 10 Pro, like Windows 10 Home, receives automatic updates from Microsoft. This means you’ll never miss a bug patch or security enhancement. Win 10 Pro is for general use. It comes pre-installed with commonly used apps and it’s the better choice if you’re using the computer for multiple purposes, like data entry in the field and communication with the back office.

Win 10 Pro is a bit more expensive than Win 10 IoT, because it’s a more adaptable operating system. It’s designed to be applicable to lots of different scenerios, with only light or no customizations needed. Win 10 IoT Enterprise is for specific, dedicated applications, where an automatic update could cause serious interruptions in your workflow. Win 10 IoT is built for IT professionals, whereas Win 10 Pro can be more easily used and managed by your whole staff. If you need re-imaging or to re-install the OS with no license headache, Windows 10 Pro is probably better for you.  Licensing on Windows 10 Pro is straightforward as there is a 25 character product key that can be typed in to re-activate the hardware after any re-install.

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About Win 10 IoT

First, know that Windows 10 IoT goes by several names: Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise, and Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC (Long Term Service Channel, formerly called LTSB – Long Term Service Branch, which is the same as LTSC).

Microsoft describes the purpose of Win 10 IoT as the following:

“Windows 10 Enterprise addresses the needs of large and midsize organizations—providing IT professionals with comprehensive device and app management.”

Comprehensive device management is one of the main advantages of Win 10 Enterprise. You can set up the computer to boot into your dedicated application and you control updates. In IoT applications, like digital signage, manufacturing automation, medical devices, and M2M (machine to machine) communication, an automatic update could be detrimental to your operation. With Windows 10 IoT, you can decide to delay updates, install them as in-place upgrades or even skip updates all together.  

Another unique feature to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise is Unified Write Filter (UWF). This protects the data on SSDs in the case of a hard power off  It is a little complicated to setup, but it works well for customers who need stable process with no concern for image corruption. (Learn more about UWF)

Windows 10 IoT Vs Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 Pro Windows 10 IoT Enterprise
General purpose applications such as personal computers       Dedicated applications such as embedded systems
Shorter lifecycle (2-3 years, then forced upgrade) Longer lifecycle (10+ years)
Shorter support time (18-30 months) Longer support time (10 years)
More Expensive Less Expensive
Automatic updates User controls updates
Unique product keys per device Has only one product key

If you’re not sure which operating system you need, our sales representatives can talk to you about your project, make a recommendation, and you test the computer for yourself by requesting a demo.

Request a free project consultation or contact us at [email protected], 800-870-7715, or in the chat box on your screen.


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