Windows 7: Versions Aplenty

By  |  Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 10:59 am

Windows 7As my colleague Ed Oswald blogged, details are out about the versions of Windows 7 that Microsoft will make available. Here’s the scoop on the six versions as explained at Geekzone:

Windows 7 Starter: up to 3 concurrent applications, ability to join a Home Group, improved taskbar and JumpLists;

Windows 7 Home Basic: unlimited applications, live thumbnail previews & enhanced visual experience, advanced networking support (ad-hoc wireless networks and internet connection sharing), and Mobility Center;

Windows 7 Home Premium: Aero Glass & advanced windows navigation, improved media format support, enhancements to Windows Media Center and media streaming, including Play To, and multi-touch and improved handwriting recognition;

Windows 7 Professional: ability to join a managed network with Domain Join, data protection with advanced network backup and Encrypting File System, and print to the right printer at home or work with Location Aware Printing;

Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate: bitLocker data protection on internal and external drives, DirectAccess for seamless connectivity to corporate networks based on Windows Server 2008 R2, BranchCache support when on networks based on Windows Server 2008 R2, and lock unauthorized software from running with AppLocker.

In other words, the lineup is mostly similar to the situation with Windows Vista, except that the version that’s called Windows Vista Business will be replaced with one called Windows 7 Professional. But there are, apparently, some subtle differences in emphasis.

According to Geekzone, Windows 7 Starter will be available on netbooks and Windows 7 Home Basic will be for emerging markets. I hope it’s true that Home Basic won’t show up over here, since the existence of Windows Vista Home Basic was a contributing factor to the train wreck that was Microsoft’s “Windows Vista Capable” program. But the news that Windows 7 Starter, unlike Windows Vista Starter, will be marketed in more developed nations is potentially a big deal. Microsoft is presumably doing so in order to get Windows onto super-cheap netbooks that would otherwise run Linux. Will people who buy such machines be happy with an intentionally crippled copy of Windows that can only run three programs at a time? We’ll see, I guess.

Some folks had held out hope that Microsoft might move to a simpler, easier-to-understand lineup of Windows versions a la the one that Apple offers. (There’s only one version of OS X, unless you count the Family Pack as a separate edition.) No such luck, apparently–which is kinda understandable given the far larger universe of people who Microsoft must attempt to make happy. (Apple, presumably, feels no need to figure out how to make Macs appealing to people in the world’s poorest nations.)

According to Mary Jo Foley’s post at ZDNet, Microsoft learned from the customer confusion that resulted from all the Windows Vista versions…but whatever lessons it learned still resulted in a mess o’ Windows 7 versions. That says a lot about Microsoft. Even though the theory is that most people will only encounter Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional.

Of course, there’s one version of Windows that’s not in the new lineup which would sell a lot of copies if it were available. That would be Windows XP. Maybe Microsoft should sneak it in under the name Windows 7 Classic Edition or something…


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Chris Hill Says:

    According to its much different to this.
    Starter – emerging, 3 aps
    Home Premium – home version
    Professional – Higher end home
    Enterprise – volume licensing only
    Ultimate – Same as enterprise without volume licensing

    Everyone will buy either Home Premium of Professional

  2. Tante Horst Says:

    I don’t need any of them 😉