Finally, Microsoft Confirms Windows Vista Lineup

Taking a cue from its tag line for Windows Vista, Microsoft has finally introduced some clarity about its product lineup for the next major Vista release, which will include eight product editions (or rather seventeen, if you count 32-bit and 64-bit versions separately). The list and product edition feature set corresponds almost exactly with the Windows Vista product edition lineup I revealed last September. It's unclear why the company waited so long to finalize this information, although it has clearly struggled with which versions it should ship.

"We live in a digital world that is filled with more information, more things to do and more ways to communicate with others than ever," says Mike Sievert, the corporate vice president of Windows Product Management and Marketing at Microsoft. "The PC needs to give people the clarity and confidence to handle this 'world of more' so they can focus on what's most important to them. With our Windows Vista product line, we've streamlined and tailored our product lineup to provide what our customers want for today's computing needs."

And apparently what customers want, is indeed "more." More product editions than ever before. More confusion about which features are included in each product edition and about how they might upgrade from one version to the next. This isn't clarity; it's insanity. By comparison, there is only one Mac OS X product edition. When you get Mac OS X, you get all of the features that Apple offers for that system. That seems a bit clearer to me.

Some good news is that one of the product editions Microsoft was originally planning to foist on its unsuspecting customer base, Vista Small Business, has been dropped. This change leaves a wide range of product editions in place. On the low end of the spectrum is Windows Vista Starter (previously Windows Starter 2007), which will be offered only in emerging markets. For home users, Microsoft will offer Windows Vista Home Basic (and Home Basic N for the European Union--EU) and Windows Vista Home Premium. Business users can look forward to Windows Vista Business (and Business N for the EU) and Windows Vista Enterprise, the latter of which will be made available only through volume licensing.

At the high end of the chain is Windows Vista Ultimate, "the edition of Windows Vista that has it all." Windows Vista Ultimate combines all of the features and functions of Vista Home Premium with Vista Business. Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium, Vista Ultimate, and Vista Business will be available as a fully packaged product at retail and on new PCs, Microsoft says.

All of the Vista product editions, except for Vista Starter, will be available for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, although it's still unclear how Microsoft will package those versions (Vista Starter is 32-bit only). All of the Vista editions, except for Vista Starter and Vista Home Basic, will include the new Windows Aero UI.

TAGS: Windows 8
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