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.

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.