Despite great user feedback to Microsoft to craft one version of Windows 7, Microsoft is continuing down the path it followed with XP and Vista by releasing multiple versions of Windows 7. As Windows General Manager Mike Ybarra has said "We have over 1 billion customers. It's hard to satisfy all of them [with a single version] " He added "There are vocal customers who want every feature, and more regular consumers who say 'I want a version that can grow with me.' "
Windows 7 will be released in 6 flavors,to be precise.But as most users only need to decide between two versions,Microsoft commented that 80 percent of users will be deploying Windows 7 Home Premium (consumers) or Windows 7 Professional (small businesses, remote workers) which is where Microsoft will put most of its marketing power.
Here is an overview of Windows 7 versions -
Windows 7 Starter
This is the bare-bones, 32-bit only version of Windows 7 intended for users in developing countries.It is designed for lightweight, portable netbooks,to serve the most basic computing needs.It will be devoid of the Aero Glass GUI that is included in all other versions of Windows 7 (except Windows 7 Home Basic) and can only run three applications at a time. It will include a revamped taskbar,jump lists, Windows Media Player, the file-sharing feature Home Group and other basic features such as Action Center and Backup and Restore.
Starter will not be available in retail stores, and will only be offered pre-installed on new PCs by Microsoft OEMs.
Windows 7 Home Basic
Home Basic lies somewhere between Starter and Home Premium. It has all the features of Windows 7 Starter and will also only be available through OEM partners in developing countries. Also like Starter, it will not include the Aero Glass GUI.
However it has some new features over Starter : more than 3 applications can be run at once; a 64-bit version; thumbnail previews from the taskbar; and Mobility Center, which allows you to manage the various networks that you connect to with your laptop. This version shares the same features as Windows 7 Home Premium except there are no Aero Glass GUI features and other UI tweaks such as Aero Snap, Aero Peek and multi-touch.Also, This version will not will not legally be available for sale in the United States.
Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows 7 Home Premium has all the features of Starter and Home Basic and then some. This is the mainstream retail version that nearly all consumers will be using. Windows 7 Home Premium will be available worldwide to Microsoft OEMs and sold in retail stores loaded on new PCs.
A step up from Windows Home Basic, Home Premium includes the Aero Glass GUI and new Windows navigation features such as Aero Glass, Aero Background, Windows Touch, Home Group creation, Media Center, DVD playback and creation, premium games and Mobility Center.
Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 Professional combines features of Home Premium with added networking and data protection features for small businesses and those who frequently work at home. Microsoft will be marketing Professional features such as Domain Join to connect to business networks, Encrypting File System for data protection and Location Aware Printing to better connect to printers at work and home.
Windows 7 Professional will not include the more buzzed-about business features such as DirectAccess and BranchCache. They show up in the next version up the food chain, Windows 7 Enterprise.
Windows 7 Enterprise
Windows 7 Enterprise is only available to businesses through volume licensing and will include all the features of Windows 7 Professional plus more security and networking features.
Businesses covered by Microsoft's Software Assurance will get Windows 7 Enterprise at no additional charge. Added features include : BitLocker (encrypts data on internal and external drives); DirectAccess (connectivity to a corporate network without VPN); AppLocker (prevents unauthorized software from running); and BranchCache (speeds up the accessing of large remote files at branch offices).
Windows 7 Enterprise is designed for the corporate world and will only be used by large businesses. It will not be available at retail or by OEMs for pre-installation on a new PC.
Windows 7 Ultimate
Ultimate is the supersize version of Windows, includes all the features of all the other versions. Think of it as Windows 7 Enterprise for consumers. its the most expensive and expansive version of Windows 7 and will be targeted at Superusers who want every possible feature.
Microsoft has said that OEMs will be able to pre-install Windows 7 Ultimate on new machines and that there will be limited availability in retail. Most probably Alienware and gaming PC’s will be preloaded with Windows 7 .
Lets hope that Microsoft’s latest offering will be more appealing than the disastrous Vista.
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