In the article “Pondering the
future Windows Vista product line
,” I talked about the rumors that were
circulating at that time that there were nine different versions of Windows
Vista. They were really only rumors and Microsoft was saying nothing official
on the subject.

However, last week Microsoft temporarily and accidentally
posted a page on its site that appeared to be a test for the online version of the
Windows Vista Help system. The main thing that that grabbed people’s attention on
that page was a list of the various versions of Vista. Although only eight were
listed, news sites that are regularly following the Vista evolution are still
reporting the likelihood that there will indeed be nine versions.

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Of course, the page stirred up the Windows community, and
I’ve seen lots of negative and acerbic comments on forums and newsgroups
regarding the confusing number of versions. I’ve decided
to revisit this topic myself, and see if I can’t make a bit more sense out of it

Separating the wheat from chaff

For the sake of argument, let’s stick with the idea that
there will indeed be nine versions of Windows Vista when the operating system
ships later this year. If your’re in the U.S., you
can eliminate three versions right

  • Windows Starter 2007 is designed
    for emerging markets in countries where Microsoft is trying to reduce piracy by
    providing an affordable, but limited, version of the OS.
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N and
    Windows Vista Business N will be available only in Europe. The versions are
    required by an antitrust ruling.
  • This leaves six versions from which to choose:

  • Vista Home Basic
  • Vista Home Premium
  • Vista
  • Vista
    Small Business Edition
  • Vista
  • Vista
    • Of the remaining six versions, three are for business use
      and three are for home use. Business usersHaving only
      three versions of the Vista OS in each category greatly simplifies
      your decision process. Obviously, the Small Business Edition is specifically designed
      for small businesses that don’t have an IT staff. Windows Vista Business and
      Windows Vista Enterprise are the versions, you would
      most want to research for a larger organization.

      From an IT perspective, if you’re currently running Windows
      XP Professional and are completely satisfied with how it fits into your IT
      infrastructure, then chances are you’ll choose Windows Vista Business. If you
      need more out of a client-side operating system and already are participating
      in Microsoft’s Software Assurance program, then chances are that you’ll choose
      Windows Vista Enterprise.

      Home users

      On the consumer side, general users would be choosing
      between Home Basic and Home Premium, because the Vista Ultimate version fcombines features of both and is specifically aimed at the
      very knowledgeable, high-end PC user. From a consumer perspective, if all you
      want to do is safely use the Internet, create documents, and, play a few games,
      then Windows Vista Home Basic is perfect for you. If you want to want to do
      everything I’ve just listed, but you also want to take full advantage of
      PC-based multimedia entertainment features, have multiple computers in your
      home, and need more advanced home networking features, then you’ll want to
      choose Windows Vista Home Premium.


      So as you can see, once you take some time to break down the
      number of versions of Windows Vista, it’s really not that confusing. However,
      keep in mind that even though Vista’s official release date is slated for later
      this year, some of the information about the various Windows Vista versions may
      change between now and the official release date. As always, if you have
      comments or information to share about the nine versions of Windows Vista and
      the way that I’ve sorted them out, please take a moment to drop by the
      Discussion area and let us hear.