Lets talk about How to – Getting Pro features using Third Party Tools in the Windows Home Version. The Enterprise edition and the Professional editions provide some of the most power feature of Windows. But, to use these powerful features it is not necessary to upgrade your Windows to the Professional or the Enterprise editions. Rather, we may use the third party alternatives.
The power features are, using USB stick to run an Operating System, the use of Windows Media Center, altering the group policy’s advanced settings, running Windows XP in a window, encryption of the hard disk, the ability to have the remote access to your desktop, and so much more.
Windows XP Mode
A virtualized Windows XP environment is offered by the Windows XP Mode, on Windows 7. The old versions of several applications which cannot be run on Windows 7 can be successfully run using this feature. Microsoft’s Virtual is utilized, which has a pre packed Windows XP virtual machine for this Windows XP Mode feature.
But what is the alternate of this feature. If you have a working Windows XP disc lying around somewhere, then please do not bother to upgrade to use this feature. Simple install virtualization software, such as VMware Player or VirtualBox, and set up Windows XP in it. This alternative will work exactly as the Windows XP Mode will have to offer you. So, run your old software easily without upgrading to use this feature.
On Windows 8, this feature of Windows XP Mode has been removed, and hence the above method can be used to have that feature back.
Windows Media Center for Windows 8
In the present and the latest Windows 8, the Home edition of the Windows has removed the Windows Media Center. To get this feature back, you may either upgrade your Windows operating system to the Professional version, or go ahead with third party software as an alternative. The best available Third Party Software alternatives for the Windows Media Center would be XBMC, or you may even try Plex as the alternatives.
Drive Encryption – BitLocker
The data of your disk is encrypted using the BitLocker encryption system, which is a full disk encryption feature of Windows. The data is decrypted at the boot time, generally with a password. So, all the files of your system would just seem like a junk to other people, if you have turned off your computer, and hence people cannot access your data, without knowing the exact key or the password. This feature, the BitLocker is available only on Windows 7 Ultimate version, and Windows 8 Professional, not even on the Windows 7 Professional edition. So what to do now?
The third party solution for this feature would be to use TrueCrypt, which encrypts the entire hard disk. You just need to type in the password or the key at the boot time to decrypt the data, before the Windows is loaded. One of the features of TryeCrypt is that the encryption of the while hard disk is not necessary. Rather you may create encrypted containers and encrypt the file, which does not require the full encryption of the hard disk.
Back Up using the Network in Windows 7
Windows require it to be the professional edition to be able to use the Windows Backup feature, which allows you to back up your data to a network location. The alternative solution for this feature on other Windows editions is to use a Third Party Alternative.
A back up tool which works on the Windows 7 is a popular tool named as Microsoft’s SyncToy. SyncToy allows you to create a scheduled task which lets to schedule the backup tasks. Other Third Party Alternative could be FreeFileSync, which is open source, and which works pretty well.
The Windows To Go Feature in Windows 8
A new feature introduced in Windows 8 is, Windows To Go. This feature allows you to run Windows on any computer by creating an installation of Windows 8 on a USB drive. You may simple plug in the USB drive to any other computer system, restart the system, and your Windows 8 environment would be ready to be used on that system. The problem lies with the fact that, this feature is available on the Windows 8 enterprise edition. The Professional edition also lacks this feature.
One alternative for you is to use a Linux Distribution, so that you may install the operating system on any USB stick and you may then take it anywhere you like and run it on any computer of your choice. A software named as UNetBootin may be used to install Ubuntu or any other Linux Distribution on any USB stick. All your personal browser such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome which run on Linux and the desktop can be taken with you anywhere with you, and can be run on any system.
Remote Desktop Server
The ability to get connected to remote desktop sessions is already available with the Home versions of Windows, but they cannot be the remote desktop servers. To access your Windows Home edition operating system desktop remotely, using the Internet or over the network, then you may instead use the VNC. The functioning of VNC is almost similar to that to Remote Desktop feature. You may install the VNC server version on your home computer system, and install the VNC client version and have the ability to access the home computer is an easy manner and remotely. The VNC clients are provided for various platforms, such as Windows, Linux, Mac, and even for Android and iOS operating Systems.
The open source third party alternative, UltraVNC, is a good alternative solution for the above feature. It is inclusive of both the client and the server versions. TeamViewer is another third party solution, which is pretty much for non geeky audience.
Group Policy Settings
The group Policy editor is included in the Windows Professional versions, which allows you to change the advanced setting of Windows operating system in an easy way. Large Networks of Windows PC’s are usually controlled by the system administrators using this feature, to change the advanced setting of such networks in Windows. But this feature is even useful for your personal home computers. There might be times when while browsing you might have read on some web pages which ask you to change some of the setting using the Group Policy. It really provides an easy way to access and change various settings for Windows.
Most of the setting accessed by the Policy editors can generally be edited by using the Windows Registry editors. But the Registry Editors may not seem to be the friendly choice for everyone. The alternative to change the settings which are provided by the Group Policy can be done using the Registry Editors, by searching the web and figuring out the necessary editing in the registry. Though it is a cumbersome process, but this is an alternative.
If you can somehow lay yours hands on a computer system which has the Windows Professional Operating System on them , then you may again determine the registry entries being edited by the Group Policy setting, and successfully apply them on your home computer system.