Now that we have a near-final release candidate (RC) to play with, Rafael and I have been pouring over the licensing policies for the various Windows 7 SKUs (stock keeping units, or "product editions"). Some interesting details have emerged, and I'm pretty sure most of this is all new info.
AAC/H.264/MPEG-2 support will not be provided to Windows 7 Home Basic and Starter customers. That functionality will only go out to Home Premium, Professional, and Enterprise/Ultimate users. But it looks like there will be add-ons made available (free or paid, it's not clear) to users of low-end Windows 7 versions.
MPEG-2 decoding (i.e. DVD playback) and Dolby Digital support will not be included in Windows 7 Home Basic and Starter. But AAC and H.264 decoding *will* be included. So in going through the licensing policies again--which, in my defense, are hard to read--I discovered an earlier mistake. Sorry for any confusion that caused.
Maximum RAM. All 32-bit versions of Windows 7 "support" 4 GB of RAM, of course. But if you go 64-bit, you can add up to 8 GB in Home Basic and Starter, 16 GB in Home Premium, and 192 GB in Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate.
Windows Media Player Remote Media Experience (RME) is not available in Windows 7 Home Basic or Starter. However, all versions can share media over a home network.
All Windows 7 SKUs support 20 simultaneous SMB connections. This works out to 10 users, apparently.
XP Mode (formerly Virtual PC). As we first revealed yesterday, only Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate are licensed to install XP Mode.
I'll provide an update to my Windows 7 Product Editions: Comparison article tomorrow to address these and other bits of info we've found.