While there will be six editions of Windows 7, the average buyer should face fewer choices. The biggest difference is that the Basic edition will now be exclusive to countries deemed developing markets.
The changes to the line-up from previous versions of Windows aren’t that drastic. Instead, Microsoft is simplifying matters by changing how and where the different versions are available.
In major markets, the only versions available as boxed copies and on most new computers will be Home Premium and Professional. Microsoft is pitching the former as the best option for home users, while the latter is designed for business and remote working. The only major differences are that the Professional version has more features designed for remote working such as networking and presentations.
The only other version that will be available on new PCs is Windows Starter. This can only be used by manufacturers of low-spec machines and can only run three applications at once. It’s unlikely you’ll see this in many retail outlets.
As Dave Jeyes noted, there’s no sign of the rumored ‘netbook edition’. While that could have been a good marketing ploy, it appears Microsoft prefers to make clear that all versions of Windows 7 (unlike Vista) should run on netbooks. Indeed, producing a slimmed-down edition of Windows for such a mainstream use might simply prompt people to wonder if the ‘full’ versions had unnecessary bloat.
Other editions won’t be available through retail outlets in countries such as the US. The Enterprise edition, designed for larger businesses, will only be available for installation across multiple machines. And the Basic edition will be limited to developing markets where less powerful computers are the norm.
The remaining edition, Ultimate, is pretty much a single version of the Enterprise edition. It won’t be available to buy separately and instead will be included on the discs for Home Premium and Professional, with users paying an upgrade fee to activate it.
The pricing for both new purchases and upgrades from Vista is still to be confirmed. It appears Vista users will pay a set fee to upgrade from their edition of Vista to the equivalent edition of Windows 7, and then a separate fee if they then want to upgrade to a more expensive edition.