Microsoft Announces Six Windows 7 Editions
Feb 3, 2009 5:40 pm
Microsoft has confirmed the existence of six separate Windows 7 versions. That's two more editions than Windows Vista's four, thanks to the addition of a barebones "Windows 7 Starter" and a split of the typical Windows "business" model into both Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise editions.
Confused? Here's a full breakdown of Windows 7 shipped editions, ordered by complexity:
Windows 7 Starter
Lacks: Aero enhancements, the ability to run more than three simultaneous programs at once (?!), HomeGroup creation, full mobility capabilities
Available: Emerging markets only, only installed on OEM-specific machines and limited to certain kinds of hardware
Windows 7 Home Basic
Lacks: Aero enhancements, live thumbnail previews, Internet connection sharing
Available: Emerging markets only (no U.S., Western Europe, Japan, and other developed countries)
Windows 7 Home Premium
Includes: Aero enhancements, multi-touch capability, media functionality for playing movies and burning DVDs, and the ability to create home network groups
Windows 7 Professional
Includes: Enhanced networking features like domain join, advanced backup, location-aware printing, and offline folders, as well as Mobility Center and Presentation Mode.
Windows 7 Enterprise
Includes: Branch Cache, DirectAccess, BitLocker, AppLocker, boot from VHD support
Available: Volume licensing only
Windows 7 Ultimate
Includes: Everything. The whole enchilada
Available: Limited availability
What to get? How to get it?
Microsoft intends for Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional to be the two editions that most consumers are apt to pick up. Your Average Joe should target the latter, whereas small business-themed customers will want to opt for the latter. Microsoft has yet to offer its official suggestions for or hardware recommendations for the operating systems, so stay tuned. However, Microsoft alleges that the various editions of Windows 7 will be able to run on a "very broad set of hardware, from small-notebook PCs (sometimes referred to as netbooks) to full gaming desktops."
Microsoft has yet to announce price points for any of the Windows 7 products. Upgrading from a lesser Windows 7 version to a more meaty variety will be handled through Microsoft's electronic upgrade capabilities. Going from a standard Vista Home Basic or Home Premium install to Windows 7 won't require a reformat of any kind. According to Windows guru Paul Thurrott, the new operating system can be installed right overtop of these Vista editions without complications. Going from XP to Windows 7 will require a clean installation, as will jumping from a 32-bit Windows 7 installation to a 64-bit installation.