Microsoft has confirmed that there will be six SKUs for the Windows 7 OS. This follows long standing Microsoft tradition of having multiple version of its Windows OS, a practice widely-criticized and mocked for bringing confusion to the marketplace.
- Starter: Available to OEMs on new PCs. Missing Aero UI. Can run 3 applications concurrently.
- Home Basic: For ’emerging markets’. Missing Aero UI.
- Home Premium: Available to OEMs and retail. Includes Aero UI, multi-touch capabilities, media features. Can create home network groups.
- Professional: Includes all of Home Premium features. Adds enhanced networking, Mobility Center and Presentation Mode.
- Enterprise: Available only in volume licenses. Includes all of Professional features. Adds Branch Cache, Direct Access and BitLocker.
- Ultimate: The same features as Enterprise, with limited availability to OEMs and retail.
It appears that Starter will find its way into netbooks, and we will not heard alot about Home Basic since its available in ’emerging markets’ only, whatever that means. For most consumers, the choices are between Home Premium and Professional. It is simpler compare with Windows Vista and more akin to Windows XP options.
Windows 7 Professional is comparable to Mac OS X and is the version of choice if you are running the OS dual boot via bootcamp. It is still early to see which version will run best on VMWare Fusion, Parallel or VirtualBox.
Microsoft has mentioned that there will be uprade version for existing XP and Vista users. There is no information on product pricing and for the upgrade path from old Windows versions. During installation, Windows 7 will upgrade for you if you are running Windows Vista. There is no system upgrade option for Windows XP, you need to install fresh new Windows 7.
What is your view on the same yet many versions of Windows 7? Well, we were hoping one single version of the OS, just Window 7, similar to Mac OS X. If single version is not feasible, then the line up could be simpler. Starter, Home Premium and Professional could be merged into one version, with resource intensive features such as Aero UI disabled automatically during system startup. Ultimate should be dropped, instead make Enterprise version available to OEMs and retail.