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Microsoft Simplifies the versions of Windows available

Unless you sell the Windows operating system, or know the market and products well you probably have no idea that there are 6 different editions of Windows Vista. Compared to the originally two editions of XP, that some how expanded to 4 near the end of it's shelf life.

In the past Microsoft sold 2 editions of it's desktop software. One intended for home use, and one intended for business use. This is fine and I can understand the marketing, and financial benefits to it. Businesses need more features such as joining domains, database technologies, etc. than a home user will. So Microsoft should be able to charge a little bit more for a business or "Professional" edition. Adobe has done this for years with Adobe Acrobat, by having a Standard and Professional version. Microsoft even did it again with their Office product line, having the individual products, and packages.

However with Vista they just took the idea and jacked it up. Try to keep up with the short list below:

  • Starter Edition - Sold only in "developing" countries and is EXTREMELY basic in functionality
  • Home Basic - A few more features than Starter, but sold everywhere. Usually runs around $200
  • Home Premium - Includes Media center, DVD codec, and Aero interface. Usually run around $260
  • Business - Removes Media center, adds the ability to connect to domains, adds shadow copies, removes DVD codec. Runs around $300
  • Ultimate - This has everything! Plays DVDs, has media center, connects to domains, shadow copies, and includes drive encryption. This runs $320
  • Enterprise - This is just ultimate edition with the ability to upgrade to the latest version when it's released. Sold only to businesses in bulk.

6 Different versions of what is basically the same product. So Microsoft understands that everyone did not like the huge number of editions they made with Vista and decided to simplify it with Windows 7:

  • Starter Edition - They kept this, I assume for export reasons so I'll let it slide. Just like Vista Starter before.
  • Home Premium - Essentially the same has Vista home premium in terms of features.
  • Professional - Adds a new "Windows XP" mode for compatibility with old programs, domain connectivity, and backing up to a server.
  • Ultimate - Again the have everything version. Adds drive encryption, and... support to switch between 35 different languages?

Yeah that's the oddest new feature I have ever seen marketed. The ability to switch between 35 different languages on the fly, acording to what I have read. I thought Windows has always supported this since XP, but I could be wrong. But my real point here, is why not include that feature in all of the versions. Accessibility does'nt care about what you want to do, just that you need to do something. Anyway... I'm getting sidetracked here; They cut the 6 version list down to 4, technically 5 because Enterprise is still offered, but no longer as an "edition" of windows, just a licensing option.

This is certainly a step in the right direction, but I believe they can still drop this whole "Ultimate" edition non-sense, include the language switching in all versions, and put drive encryption in the professional version. Bringing us down to a simple 3 version, and technically 2 since here in the USA we will never see Starter Edition on the shelf. All of this would make it simple to sell, and simple for everyone to purchase with little knowledge of the product.

Are you running a business? No? Well use Home Premium, it's probably what you need! Otherwise if you are use Professional edition, it's intended for business use.

That simple, that's all the marketing effort it takes to tell the consumer the difference between the two. It's worked for the last 12 years, why not for another 3 or more?

Last Updated: 07/13/2009 10:49 AM

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