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Six Variants of Windows 7 Revealed

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 5 comments
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Late last month we reported that there would be five different versions of Windows 7 shipping. It turns out that the information wasn’t entirely complete -- instead, we will be seeing six different variations of the OS.

The full lineup of Windows 7, from bottom to top, are as follows: Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic (for Emerging Markets only), Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate. This follows the screenshot from build 7025, with the addition of the Professional version.

The SKU confusion from Windows Vista (which also landed Microsoft in some legal headaches) might be a little severe this time as Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte clarified, "We're going to focus on two versions," according to CNet.

We believe that the two main versions of Windows 7, at least within our markets, will be Home Premium and Professional.

As for the other versions, Windows 7 Starter will be quite limited with only being allowed to run three applications at a time, lower screen resolutions, no live thumbnail previews and limited processor support.

Home Basic will only be for emerging markets, and will be missing the Aero interface, multitouch support, DVD playback and Windows Media Center.

Home Premium will be the version targeted at most of the consumer market, and will predominantly be the one shipped with new PCs. It will contain all the features that are aimed at the user’s direct experience.

The Professional version adds on top of Home Premium brings with it more business and network options, such as an encrypted file system and location-aware printing services.

Enterprise is aimed at businesses buying in volume, and contain even more networking and business options. Consumers won’t see this one on the shelf.

Finally, the Ultimate edition contains every single feature of Windows 7 -- both work and play aspects -- and will be one that’s purchasable by consumers.

Interestingly enough, users of any version of Windows 7 will be able to upgrade from one version to any above it without having to reinstall. According to CNet, each install of Windows 7 will contain the complete feature set, with only an upgraded key required to unlock a higher version.

As for the release date of Windows 7, nobody really knows yet. We’re still waiting for the release candidate.

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  • 1 Hide
    LePhuronn , 4 February 2009 04:23
    Woohoo! 6 versions to confuse the average Joe. Didn't Microsoft learn from Vista about this sort of shit?

    They could've at least named things better to avoid confusion: 7 Home for home, 7 Business for business, 7 Enterprise is fine, but why do we need two business version, 7 Ultimate for everything and 7 Express or 7 Lite for emerging markets?

    And who the hell is going to use a version that limits to 3 simultaneous apps? If you have a slow or limited use system surely you'd stick with the OS you have already instead of shelling out for a new one??

    Plus, why the hell do we even need 6 versions? Surely 3 is enough if you want to restrict/focus feature sets: Home, Business, Ultimate. And why not just do ONE version and extend its functionality with market-focused resource kits like they did with Windows 98 and Windows 2000?

    Still, not to worry. If every install is basically 7 Ultimate with bits switched off it won't take long for somebody to crack it and re-enable everything.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 4 February 2009 05:26
    what is the starter version for is it for low powered netbooks or for those one per child like netbooks?
  • 0 Hide
    smalltime0 , 4 February 2009 07:18
    LePhuronnThey could've at least named things better to avoid confusion: 7 Home for home, 7 Business for business, 7 Enterprise is fine, but why do we need two business version, 7 Ultimate for everything and 7 Express or 7 Lite for emerging markets?And who the hell is going to use a version that limits to 3 simultaneous apps? Plus, why the hell do we even need 6 versions? Surely 3 is enough if you want to restrict/focus feature sets: Home, Business, Ultimate. And why not just do ONE version and extend its functionality with market-focused resource kits like they did with Windows 98 and Windows 2000?Still, not to worry. If every install is basically 7 Ultimate with bits switched off it won't take long for somebody to crack it and re-enable everything.

    Yeah, I agree with the crack thing, big mistake for microsoft IMHO, however I suppose the starter will be pretty cheap, so they will probably get some money from people otherwise pirating.

    The three app thing is very odd, even in my Duron days I'd have several applications open, this limit will probably lead to more applications launching as services.

    The 6 version thing (really 5 for most markets) is a bit odd, I agree, 3 is plenty and at most there should be 4. Two business ones is very odd, even if there is a price difference it would probably be negatable against the cost of rollout etc.
  • 0 Hide
    mactronix , 4 February 2009 20:10
    The way i read it they intend home premium ie the most desirable and cost effective version to be OEM only. And the whistles and bells ie most expensive version Ultimate will be in there own words, "will be one that’s purchasable by consumers"

    And as said if every disc is a complete install but needs Keys then they will be available.
    M$ have cocked it up again one version for General use. Premium, one for small buisness use Profesional, and the Enterprise version for big business is all they need. Butthey think they can keep costs down by mass making the full disc and turning some of it off with product keys.
    This could end overtaking Spore as the most downloaded Torrent.
    If it does happen M$ will only have them selves to blame.
    Personally im quite happy with XP still.
    mactronix
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 4 February 2009 21:22
    I'm actually looking forward to 7.

    At work we're running Vista 64 Ultimate on some 8GB 3GHz quad-core editors (finally all working!) and when it's running it's not bad at all really (but given the grunt behind it no wonder), so I can certainly see the benefits of what a lot of MS tried to do with their XP successor.

    Plus I'm going i7 at home in a few months so I don't think I can stick with XP for much longer!