Considering how often I get asked what the difference between Home and Professional versions of Windows XP is I’m not at all looking forward to the release of Windows Vista which will have no less than 6 different choices for consumers to choose from:
• Windows Vista Starter, a bare-bones version for developing countries.
• Windows Vista Home Basic, a basic version for cost-conscious households that do only basic tasks such as e-mailing, word processing and Internet surfing. Because it’s designed for lower-cost PCs, it won’t have advanced graphics features.
• Windows Vista Home Premium, the “mainstream” version for consumers, will incorporate features now sold in the standalone Windows XP Media Center and Tablet PC versions.
• Windows Vista Business, a “mainstream” version for business users, includes special features for small businesses and Tablet PC features.
• Windows Vista Enterprise, available only for companies with multiyear licensing agreements, adds security features, including the ability to encrypt a hard drive, so that data is secure even if the PC is lost or stolen. It also has built-in support for multiple languages and virtualization features that simulate older versions of Windows, so that users can run old applications.
• Windows Vista Ultimate, a new “superset” version that includes all features in all editions. It’s aimed at enthusiasts, advanced users and small businesses.
All but the Starter version will be available for 32-bit or 64-bit processors.
Needless to say the bigger versions will cost more with the Home Basic edition tentatively priced at about the same as XP Home currently ($99 to $199 depending on whether you qualify for the upgrade version). Microsoft seems eager to get gamers to make the switch as well by announcing that Halo 2 will be available around about the same time Vista launches and will require the new OS to run. Expect similar arm twisting of corporate clients to take place as Microsoft was not too happy with how slow a lot of folks were to move up to Windows XP.
If nothing else you gotta give Apple credit for sticking to their one-size-fits-all offering with OS X as it makes figuring out what you should get a helluva lot easier.