Windows Vista Versions

For many years, the Windows world was divided into two camps:
the so-called "consumer" editionsWindows 95, 98, and Meaimed at individuals and
home office users, and the "business" editionsWindows NT and 2000aimed at the
corporate market. With the release of Windows XP, Microsoft merged these two
streams into a single code base.

However, that didn't mean the end to having
multiple editions of the operating system. In fact, XP ended up with six major

  • Starter (for users with low-cost PCs in emerging markets outside North
  • Home (individuals),
  • Professional (corporate users and the SOHO crowd),
  • Professional x64 (the 64-bit version for power users),
  • Media Center (multimedia
    users), and
  • Tablet PC (with digital pen support for Tablet PC users).

people found the existence of so many versions of XP confusing, and it certainly
was a head-scratching situation for anyone not versed in the relatively subtle
differences among the editions.

Given this widespread confusion, you would think that
Microsoft would simplify things with
Windows Vista. After all, a case could be
made that the reason so many people did not upgrade to XP was that they simply
were not sure which edition they should purchase. So no one would blame you for
thinking that the road to Vista is going to be straighter than the twisting XP

In the end, Vista will ship with the same number of versions
as XPsix in allalthough Vista's versions will be configured completely
differently than XP's. First, the home market will see two editions:

  • Windows Vista Home Basic -
    This edition will be made available in North America and other developed
    nations, and it represents the simplest Vista option. The Home Basic Edition
    is aimed at individuals using their computer at home who want security
    without complexity. Home Basic includes Windows Defender, Windows Mail with
    its antispam features, Internet Explorer 7 with its antiphishing features
    and protected mode, the improved Windows Firewall, the revamped Security
    Center, and Vista's enhanced parental controls. It will also feature Windows
    Media Player 11, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows
    Calendar, Windows Sidebar, Windows Search, the Games Explorer, partial
    support for the Mobility Center for notebook users, and basic networking
    (wired and wireless). However, Home Basic will not support the new Aero

  • Windows Vista Home Premium
    This edition includes everything in Home Basic, plus the Aero shell, Media
    Center, support for Tablet PCs, Windows Collaboration, Windows DVD Maker,
    scheduled backups, DVD ripping and authoring capabilities, the Mobility
    Center for notebook users, and advanced networking capabilities (such as ad
    hoc peer-to-peer networks and multiple-machine parental controls). This
    edition is aimed at networked household, multimedia enthusiasts, and
    notebook users.

The business market will also see two editions:

  • Windows Vista Business
    This edition is analogous to Windows XP Professional and includes the same
    corporate features as XP Pro: support for domains, multiple network
    protocols, offline files, Remote Desktop, file and folder encryption,
    roaming user profiles, and group. Vista Business also comes with the Aero
    shell, Internet Information Server, Windows Fax and Scan, support for Tablet
    PCs, and the full Mobility Center. This edition does
    not come with Media Center, Movie Maker,
    and DVD Maker. In short, it's a no-nonsense OS for the business

  • Windows Vista Enterprise
    This edition is optimized for corporate desktops. It includes everything
    that's in Vista Business, plus features such as Windows BitLocker (drive
    encryption for sensitive data), Virtual PC Express, Multilanguage User
    Interface (MUI), and Subsystem for UNIX-Based Applications (SUA). It also
    allows IT personnel to deploy the OS in different languages using a single
    disk image. Note, however, that Enterprise Edition will be made available
    only to Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Software Assurance (SA)
    volume-licensing customers. (Or, of course, you can just buy the Ultimate
    Edition, which I discuss next.)

Bestriding the canyon that exists between the home and
business editions is an everything-but-the kitchen sink version:

  • Windows Vista Ultimate -
    This edition comes with all the features of the Home Premium and Enterprise
    editions. It also offers enhanced game performance, access to online
    subscription services, custom themes, and enhanced support.

Here's the sixth Vista version:

  • Windows Vista Starter
    This is a stripped-down edition of Vista that will be made available only in
    emerging markets. It's designed for low-cost PCs and is optimized to run on
    machines with relatively slow CPUs and small memory footprints. This means
    that the Starter Edition won't support features such as the Aero shell,
    networking, image editing, and DVD burning. As with XP Starter Edition,
    Vista Starter Edition will be limited to an 800x600 display and won't allow
    users to open more than three programs or three windows at once.

In addition to these editions, there will be OEM equivalents
for all versions, as well as 64-bit versions for everything except the Starter
Edition. Finally, Microsoft will also make available special versions of Vistaa
Home Edition and a Professional Editionthat are customized for Europe to satisfy
antitrust legal obligations in that region, which means these editions come
without Microsoft's media features, including Media Player and Media Center.