Many sources are reporting that Microsoft will release at least six different versions of Windows 7, whenever it finally hits the streets. After the customer confusion that ensued following Microsoft's release of multiple versions of Windows Vista, including a consumer class-action lawsuit about low-end PCs that were confusingly labeled as 'Vista Capable' but actually were unable to run the full version, some observers are perplexed that Microsoft seems to be repeating that same marketing mistake as it rolls out Windows 7. It certainly appears that it risks alienating more of its customers by sowing confusion and creating the impression that it's mostly interested in extracting the most money possible out of everyone for this next release, while desperately trying to maintain market share. The six versions of Windows 7 that the Vole has said it plans to release are as follows.
The Starter edition will be available worldwide. As the name suggests, it will be aimed mostly at netbooks and other low-end machines. Users will be limited to running only three applications at a time, not counting background processes. The Starter version will include the new Apple OSX lookalike Windows 7 taskbar, but without the live preview feature, and networking capabilities will be relatively primitive.
The Home Basic version will only be available in emerging markets, and will also target netbooks and lower powered desktop and laptop systems. It will be an analogue of Vista's Media Center edition, having limited GUI features to include the Windows 7 taskbar, with live preview, but without the full Aero Glass interface or windows navigation and touchscreen features. It will also have Internet connection sharing and wireless networking capabilities, plus laptop power management.
The Home Premium edition will be the version aimed at most consumers. It will include the Aero Glass interface with all its eye-candy, windows navigation and touchscreen features, as well as full media format support including streaming. However, it will lack many of the features of the Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate versions.
The Professional version will target most small business users. It will have all the features of the Home Premium edition and will also include an encrypted filesystem capability, a network backup feature, and additional Microsoft networking and printing functions.
The Enterprise edition will only be available to corporate accounts. In addition to all of the Professional version features, it will also include Microsoft's own data and application security, plus corporate networking capabilities to connect to Windows Server 2008 R2.
The Ultimate version will only be available as an upgrade, and will include most of the features available in the Enterprise edition, probably without the corporate networking.
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