Windows 7 product editions

Microsoft has announced the product line-up for Windows 7 and those who were looking for something a little simpler than the SKUs we saw for Windows Vista will be sadly disappointed. As with Vista there are several versions planned for Windows 7; however, unlike with Vista, each is a superset of the preceding version (i.e. the features in each version of Windows 7 build upon the one before it so that, as customers move up as version, they gain additional features and lose none).

Microsoft’s recommendations are:

  • For price-sensitive customers with small notebook PCs (e.g. netbooks), some OEMs will offer Windows 7 Starter Edition.
  • For customers in emerging markets, Windows 7 Home Basic will be available.
  • For consumers, Microsoft recommends Windows 7 Home Premium for most customers and Windows 7 Professional for customers who want additional features and functionality useful for small business activities. There will also be an Ultimate Edition of Windows 7.
  • For businesses, Microsoft recommends Windows 7 Professional for most customers and Windows 7 Enterprise for medium-to-large business and enterprise customers that choose to license Windows through Software Assurance.

Whilst I can see why this approach has been taken and I think that making each version build upon the previous one is a a sensible decision, in my opinion this is still too many versions (why do we need Ultimate or Enterprise – surely those features can be rolled into Home Premium and Professional as Microsoft has stated that it intends to focus on these as the primary editions of Windows 7?). Interestingly there is no mention of a version of Windows 7 labled N, K or KN as there was for previous versions of Windows in order to comply with legal rulings in Europe and Korea. The announcement also makes no mention of the differences between 32- and 64-bit editions amd whilst I expect to see x64 versions of the high-end SKUs, I’ll be surprised if the low-end versions are available for anything other than a 32-bit architecture.

In terms of available functionality, the line-up is as follows:

Version Key features
Windows 7 Starter Edition
  • Broad application and device compatibility with up to 3 concurrent applications.
  • Safe, reliable, and supported.
  • Ability to join a Home Group.
  • Improved taskbar and JumpLists.
Windows 7 Home Basic Edition Windows 7 Starter Edition features plus:

  • Unlimited applications.
  • Live Thumbnail Previews & enhanced visual experience.
  • Advanced networking support (ad-hoc wireless networks and internet connection sharing).
  • Mobility Center.

Windows 7 Home Basic Edition will only be available in emerging markets.

Windows 7 Home Premium Edition Windows 7 Home Basic Edition features plus:

  • Aero glass and advanced windows navigation.
  • Easy networking & sharing across all PCs and devices.
  • Improved media format support, enhancements to Windows Media Center and media streaming, including Play To.
  • Multi-touch and improved handwriting recognition.
Windows 7 Professional Edition Windows 7 Home Premium Edition features plus:

  • Ability to join a managed network (domain join).
  • Protect data with advanced network backup and encrypting file system.
  • Print to the right printer at home or work with location aware printing.
Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate Editions Windows 7 Professional Edition features plus:

  • BitLocker data protection for internal and external drives.
  • DirectAccess for seamless connectivity to the corporate network (requires Windows Server 2008 R2).
  • Prevent unauthorised software from running with AppLocker.

Windows 7 Enterprise Edition will only be available through Microsoft Volume Licensing.

Windows 7 Ultimate Edition will include multi-language packs.

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